Archive for the ‘Web-accessible control system (WACS)’ Category

ZigBee Smart Energy Certified Products

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

As the industry leader, only ZigBee offers an established, competitive marketplace providing the core technology for monitoring, controlling, and automating the delivery and use of energy and water. ZigBee Smart Energy is the affordable and easy way to improve energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact.

The following ZigBee Smart Energy Certified Products were tested to ensure they meet all of the Alliance’s strict specifications and perform as promised. These products represent solutions across the entire efficiency ecosystem – energy services portals, meters, displays, thermostats and load controllers. Each product may wear the ZigBee Certified logo and the green ZigBee Smart Energy icon so that they may be easily identified in the marketplace.

Alektrona offers embedded communications engineering design services. Our specialization is in systems that leverage IP network and wireless ZigBee\ISM band connectivity. As a core member of the ZigBee Gateway group, Alektrona is an active participant in the design and specifications within the Alliance. Our team focuses on engineering high reliability solutions emphasizing system level design with a business level approach. Alektrona Engineering Expertise Includes: ” ZigBee networking and Gateway product design ” ISM band wireless ” Embedded Systems and Microcontroller Hardware ” Firmware and software design ” Sensor and control networks. ” NMS, SCADA and BMS integration ” Internet appliance design ” End to end embedded product design and manufacturing Please contact us at: solutions@alektrona.com 401-228-2962
Z-Aperture ZA07-200-ESP
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Alektrona’s Z-Aperture™ ZA07-200-ESP is the first broadband Energy Service Portal and Internet Gateway to receive ZigBee Smart Energy Golden Unit certification.
Aztech Associates, Inc.
In-Home Display
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Aztech’s In-Home Display communicates directly with smart meters.
Computime International Limited
CTW200
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CTW200 is a thermostat which monitors, controls and displays energy consumption and rate information for ZigBee-enabled residences.
CTW300
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CTW300 is an In Home Display with a large dot matrix screen for users to monitor energy rate and consumption information in residences supporting the ZigBee Smart Energy profile.
Comverge is a leading provider of clean energy solutions that improve grid reliability and supply electric capacity on a more cost effective basis than conventional alternatives by reducing base load and peak load energy consumption
DCU
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Comverge DCU offers a wide range of functionality – from individual addressing to adaptive algorithms
PowerPortal
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Comverge PowerPortal® IHD is an easy to use, AMI ready display that allows consumers to closely track their electricity consumption and receive messages or alerts from their utility provider.
SuperStat Pro
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Comverge’s SuperStat™ Pro is a state-of-the-art “smart” thermostat.
Control4
EC-100
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The EC-100 is an easy to use energy controller that empowers consumers and utilities to better manage energy use and costs.
Cooper Power Systems, Inc., with revenues of approximately $1 billion, is a division of Cooper Industries, Ltd. (NYSE: CBE). Cooper Power Systems is a global manufacturer of world-class power delivery and reliability solutions for the electrical and industrial markets. Cooper Power Systems manufactures distribution transformers, distribution switchgear, reclosers, capacitors, protective relays, voltage regulators, automated switches, cable accessories, surge arrestors, transformer components and dielectric fluids, fuses and tools and it provides engineering services for the electrical and industrial markets. Through its Energy Automations Solutions group, it is also a leading provider of software, communications and integration solutions that enable customers to increase productivity, improve system reliability, and reduce costs. For more information visit www.cooperpower.com or www.cooperpowereas.com.
UtilityPro ZigBee
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Cooper Power Systems – The ZigBee®-enabled UtilityPRO™ is a Honeywell touchscreen programmable thermostat designed for utility-sponsored demand response programs and is equipped with a Cooper demand response module.
Digi International is the leader in device networking for business. Drop-in Networking solutions include ZigBee/802.15.4 embedded modules, stand-alone adapters, extenders and environmental sensors, plus wireless mesh gateways that collect and transport data from the ZigBee network to an IP network via cellular, Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Reliably network-enable devices and sensors where no wired networking infrastructure exists, where network access is prohibited, or when laying cable is impractical or cost-prohibitive.
ConnectPort X2 ESP
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Digi’s ConnectPort X2 ESP enables energy service providers to deploy HAN devices that are completely managed by the Digi gateway over a broadband or cellular connection, allowing Smart Grid services to be deployed in areas not covered by Smart Metering networks.
Smart Energy Range Extender
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Digi’s XBee Range Extender is a certified ZigBee Smart Energy device.
ecobee�s mission is to help homeowners conserve energy, save money and reduce their environmental impact. Our green automation platform sits at the convergence of energy conservation, green technology, the networked home and consumer electronics. Our products automate energy conservation, making it easier to save on energy costs without sacrificing comfort. ecobee targets the large markets of heating, cooling and ventilation, utility demand response and green automation.
Ecobee Smart Thermostat
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ecobee’s green automation platform sits at the convergence of energy conservation, green technology, the networked home and consumer electronics.
Energate Connecting Conservation with Comfort Energate lets you take your smart grid strategy beyond smart meters, to where demand is rooted — in the home. Energate’s home energy management solutions let consumers and utilities manage energy use and reduce peak demand without sacrificing comfort and convenience. Building upon over 25 years of HVAC industry experience, Energate smart thermostats offer industry-leading equipment interface technology and comfort control algorithms.
Pioneer Z100
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Energate Pioneer Z100 – Energate has expanded its Pioneer series of smart thermostats to support the Smart Energy Profile.
Pioneer Z107
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Energate Pioneer Z107 – Energate has expanded its Pioneer series of smart thermostats to support the Smart Energy Profile. Incorporating next generation technology beyond the features found on today’s most sophisticated thermostats, Energate’s Pioneer Series of smart thermostats provide unparalleled performance with an exceptional user interface to meet your current and future needs.
Founded in 2005, Energy Aware Technology is a Canadian company focused on demand side management products that increase awareness of resource consumption and help people save money. Energy Aware’s first product, the PowerTab, is an in-home energy display designed for deployment with smart metering infrastructure.
PowerTab / PowerPortal
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Energy Aware’s PowerTab is an in-home display that uses the Zigbee Smart Energy profile to allow consumers to closely track electricity consumption and costs. The PowerTab’s attractive design and user-friendly interface encourage energy conservation and facilitate increased data flow to end users. The PowerTab’s features include a 100 mW radio, a magnetic backing, and three colour LEDs to indicate tariff rates.
Itron Inc. is a leading technology provider to the global energy and water industries. Itron Inc. consists of Itron in North America and Actaris outside of North America. Our company is the world’s leading provider of metering, data collection and utility software solutions, with nearly 8,000 utilities worldwide relying on our technology to optimize the delivery and use of energy and water. Our products include electricity, gas and water meters, data collection and communication systems, including automated meter reading (AMR) and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI); meter data management and related software applications; as well as project management, installation, and consulting services. To know more, start here: www.itron.com.
Open Way Gas Module
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Itron – OpenWay Gas Module accurately measures natural gas consumption and supports two-way communication with the Itron
OpenWay
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Itron® OpenWay™ is an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) solution built around OpenWay
In Chinese, Jetlun means literally “save energy”. Jetlun is building the last mile to the Smart Grid and providing an integrated energy network management solution for residential and commercial markets using standard-based network technologies that maximizes the use of a building’s existing wires and wireless networks for total coverage and connectivity. The Jetlun Intelligent Management solution (“JIM”) is a family of energy network management products that provides granular energy usage information– by whole-home, by phase, by circuit, and by appliance– enabling a homeowner or property manager to pinpoint areas that are consuming the most power.
JIM Gateway Pro RD75606
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The JetLun Gateway SE (model RD75606) is the world’s first integrated ZigBee and HomePlug® enabled gateway that collects.
JIM Gateway Pro RD75607
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The JetLun Gateway (model RD75607) is the world’s first integrated ZigBee and HomePlug® enabled gateway that collects, stores and displays real-time energy consumption information and helps you manage and control- both onsite and remotely- your energy usage through a simple user interface on any web browser or any web-enabled phone, such as the Blackberry® or iPhone®.
JIM Gateway Pro RD75609
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The JetLun Gateway Lite SE (model RD75609) is an ZigBee® to IP enabled gateway that collects, stores and displays real-time energy consumption
KDN is providing high-tech total electric power IT service in entire processes of electric power system, such as from power generation to transmission, distribution and sale. As such, KDN is largely contributing to achieving efficiency and advancement in electric power business by establishing IT system. Furthermore, KDN, by securing international competitiveness in international power IT market, will grow into a global specialist in power IT.
KDN Smart Meter
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KDN Smart Meter Single-Phase and Poly-Phase Smart Meters produced by Korea Electric Power Data Network Co.[KDN] are highly accurate, intelligent, and fully featured electricity meters with integrated communication modules. The Smart Meters have special features such as two-way communication via standard-based ZigBee and PLC(Power Line Communication) technologies, two-way measurement, Power Quality measurement(Sag and Swell), Tamper detection and Remote connect/disconnect. IEC standards (IEC 62052, IEC 62053, and IEC 62056) are applied to Smart Meter.
Landis+Gyr is the leading provider of advanced metering, energy efficiency, and infrastructure communication systems to electric, gas, and water utilities worldwide. Landis+Gyr’s proven record of customer satisfaction and value creation is supported by over 20 million customer advanced metering end points in production or under contract worldwide. Landis+Gyr supports its 500+ customers with a staff of over 700 professionals located in offices across the United States.
Landis + Gyr E35C-A
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Landis + Gyr E35C-A is a high performance 2.4GHz ZigBee transceiver that is supplied loaded with ZigBee Smart Energy firmware. The unit is fully certified and works with Landis + Gyr E350 U-Series meters.
The EcoMeter Energy Monitor
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The ecoMeter energy monitor is a critical component in the final delivery of the benefits of the smart grid to its energy end-users; and an integral component in Landis Gyr’s Smart Grid solution – Gridstream. The ecoMeter P250 is the means for energy consumers to become fully informed and directly engaged to their energy consumption; and is the tool of choice to empower consumers to manage energy better.
The Landis Gyr Focus AX
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The Landis Gyr Focus AX endpoint is a ZigBee-enabled advanced metering endpoint that provides two-way communication with the utility, meter and home-area networks.
LS Industrial Systems has been leading the industrial electric controls and automation field in Korea with the advanced technology for decades. Providing top quality products, LS Industrial Systems set the long term goal as “Superiority over quality and product development”. To set the standard of digitalization which will drive the future of the industry, LS Industrial Systems provides Total Solution found on abundant industrial knowledge and technology in electric control, automation, tube & pipe and the new business area.
LK Meter
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The LK Series Single-Phase and Poly-Phase Electric Meters are intelligent, fully featured revenue-grade energy meters with integrated communication function. These solid-state meters feature two-way communication via plug-in type communication modules using standard-based ZigBee® and PLC (Power Line Communication) technology. Each meter complies with IEC 62052, 62053, and 62056 standards.
LS Research is a leading design firm specializing in providing turnkey RF and wireless design services. A perfect match for OEM customers looking to develop high performances low cost short range wireless solutions based on 802.15.4 radio and the Zigbee stack. A sister company, LS Compliance, is an FCC-certified and A2LA-approved EMC testing laboratory offering comprehensive EMC testing and consulting services. L.S. Research and L.S. Compliance W66 N220 Commerce Court Cedarburg, Wisconsin 53012 USA Phone: (262) 375-4400 Fax: (262) 375-4248 E-mail: sales@lsr.com www.lsr.com
RS-SE-24-01
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RS-SE-24-01 – The RATE$AVER is an In-Home-Display device capable of communicating with ZigBee Smart Energy Profile Compliant Energy Service Portals (ESP) withn Utility Meters displaying energy usage data.
OpenPeak Inc. creates, designs, and develops innovative systems and devices that enable simple control of home energy usage, VoIP telephony, digital media, Internet content, and consumer electronics on a single touch screen device. OpenPeak allows utilities to deliver service updates to users on demand today, and provides a platform for the deployment of future energy applications as they are developed. Through the OpenPeak App Shop, the same device can deliver a complete communications package including news, sports, weather, social networking, and instant messaging and is compatible with a variety of communication standards, including ZigBee and Wi-Fi. For more visit www.openpeak.com.
OpenFrame 7EZ
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OpenPeak’s OpenFrame 7E – touch screen device provides an engaging way for consumers to take an active role in managing their energy consumption. By integrating home energy management with on-board multi-media functions, the same device can deliver a complete information and communication experience including news, sports, weather, social networking, music, and family photos.
PRI Limited
Customer Information Panel
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Home Energy Controller (HEC) monitors and displays electricity and gas consumption and cost information on a customer friendly display. Using the ZigBee Smart Energy Profile, it can read any meter that meets the standard and display the data in tabular and/or graphical format to encourage consumers to reduce their energy consumption through better information.
Horstmann S23 Meter Interface
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Single and Poly Phase Multi Rate Meters – ZigBee Smart Energy Certified meter interface can be fitted to PRI and Horstmann electricity meters to provide consumption data to other Smart Energy devices on a network. The meters conform to IEC 62052-11 and are available with optional load control switches, as well as a variety of power ratings to suit any market.
Rainforest Automation makes products that enable residential energy management, and allow utilities to rapidly deploy Smart Grids that are less expensive and more reliable. Our products include EMU™, a utility targeted in-home display (IHD) designed with simplicity and high-volume deployments in mind, and Orchid™, an energy services platform that serves as a low-cost gateway between the utility and the consumer.
Energy Monitoring Unit
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Rainforest Automation’s EMU™ – Energy Monitoring Unit is an In-Home Display designed specifically to meet the technical and budget requirements of utility deployments. The EMU™ has a simple user interface, runs on standard AA batteries, and displays real-time usage, accumulated statistics and provides a peak pricing “traffic-light”. With its 2-way link to the smart meter, EMU can support custom features such as pre-payment, opt-out, and messaging response.
Silver Spring Networks, the leader in IP networking, connects utilities with their customers over a two-way, IP based network, enabling innovation and change. Utilities can enhance the way they interact with customers. Customers are empowered to manage their energy more efficiently. Using this IP-based network, utilities can deploy a scalable, reliable infrastructure from the substation to the customer premise and implement advanced metering, demand response and other applications at a fraction of comparable costs. An open, IP -based network lowers not just capital costs, but total cost of ownership. When planning the network of tomorrow, it helps to partner with a company that makes it available today
Interactive Energy Management
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The Silver Spring CustomerIQ web portal by Greenbox delivers near real-time data on their energy efficiency programs, including consumption and pricing
Telegesis develops and manufactures advanced wireless products to provide low cost, high performance solutions. Telegesis ZigBee ready Module and Development Kit is based upon Ember Corporation’s meshing technology and is the first in a family of products, others of which are already at prototype testing stage. Our low cost Development Kit enables an out-of-the-box mesh network in less than half an hour. Telegesis range of ZigBee products will aid rapid development and integration into OEM products through the provision of complete ‘plug-in’ modules. Telegesis AT-style command line interface software further speeds and facilitates the building of total solutions.
ETRX2USB & ETRX2USB-PA ZSE IHD
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ETRX2USB ZSE-IHD In Home Display – The Telegesis ETRX2USB ZSE-IHD is a high performance 2.4GHz ZigBee transceiver in USB stick form which is supplied loaded with ZigBee Smart Energy (ZSE) IHD firmware. The unit is a fully certified In Home Display and can be supplied with Certicom test or full certificates. An AT command layer on top of the ZSE IHD firmware allows a host application to easily control the stick.
Range Extender & Range Extender-PA
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Telegesis Smart Energy Range extender – The Telegesis Range Extender and Range Extender-PA are fully certified ZigBee Smart Energy (ZSE) units which enable increased distance between nodes in a ZigBee Smart Energy network. If the distance between nodes is too great for communication to be established. By adding one or more Routers in-between an extended ZSE mesh network can be formed.
Tendril focuses on network operations and deployment – the next big stage of the Wireless Sensor and Control Network industry. Our software allows companies to access, deploy, monitor, manage, and integrate networks into the real world. This approach allows Tendril to address the macro trends of energy efficiency, security and life expectancy.
Tendril Insight
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Tendril Insight is an in-home display that communicates with networked smart devices, such as thermostats, electricity meters and outlets, and displays information about consumption levels and energy rates. Empowered with real-time information, energy customers can potentially save money, while utilities can reduce customer service incidents and improve overall load balancing and demand response capabilities.
Tendril Relay
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Tendril Relay is a ZigBee device router that plugs into a standard household outlet. The Tendril Relay extends the range of a smart energy network, making it easier to access and connect devices in large homes and hard-to-reach places, like garages and sheds.
Tendril Transport
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Tendril Transport is an IP gateway that opens a new channel of interaction and collaboration between consumers and their utilities. The Tendril Transport delivers two-way information to consumers and utilities, providing insight into household energy footprints. With the Tendril Transport, customers gain more access to energy-related information and more control over energy consumption decisions. Utilities can better manage supply, demand response and load control scenarios, and costs.
Volt
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Tendril Outlet is a 3-prong, ZigBee Smart Energy electrical outlet that can be plugged into a standard home outlet to monitor and control the energy consumption of any electrical appliance or device. Multiple Tendril Outlets in the same home can be tracked individually or as a group over the Internet or from a local Tendril Display device. The Tendril Outlet gives the consumer unprecedented insight into and control over their household energy footprint, improving their overall energy efficiency.
Volt
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Tendril Volt is a three-prong, standards-based smart electrical outlet that can be plugged into a 110Volt/15A AC standard wall power outlet to turn off or on any connected electrical appliance or device. When used in conjunction with the Tendril Insight or the Tendril Vantage web portal, multiple outlets in the same home can be managed individually or as a group over the Internet, giving consumers unprecedented insight into and control over wasted energy and their household energy footprint.
Trilliant Networks, Inc. is the industry leader in open solutions for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), demand response, and grid management. The company is focused on delivering ANSI and IEEE standards-based AMI, without vendor lock-in, enabling choice of meter, network and IT infrastructures. Trilliant brings over 20 years’ experience solving AMI needs for utility customers through the legacy of its Nertec brand founded in 1985. Additionally Trilliant is the originator of the first ANSI tools for development, simulation and compliance now used by most meter manufacturers and AMI companies to develop and test ANSI meters as well as meter communication products. Trilliant has more than 100 utility customers including Baltimore Gas & Electric, Duke Energy, Hydro One, Hydro Quebec, Milton Hydro, Northeast Utilities, OneOK, Public Service Electric & Gas and San Diego Gas & Electric.
SecureMesh Micro Access Portal
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Trilliant SecureMesh™ Micro Access Portal is independent from the meter and can be embedded in any end-point device including thermostats, in-home displays, appliance controllers or meters. Trilliant’s SecureMesh AMI Network is based on the same IEEE 802.15.4 standard as ZigBee providing an end-to-end fully standards-based solution for energy applications.

The Convergence of Building Controls, IT (IIT)

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Varying perspectives of usefulness of increasingly common practices

For more than a decade, many in the buildings industry have been envisioning a day when building-automation systems (BAS) would become fully integrated with communication and human-interface practices and standards widely employed for information-technology (IT) networks. With the number of those individuals growing and their dream coming closer to reality, five-question survey with the intent of gathering the varying perspectives of a control-system designer, a controls manufacturer, a controls integrator, and an advanced controls user on practices becoming increasingly common in development BAS.

The Survey Participants

THE DESIGNER
A senior partner of New York-based Lehr Consultants International and a member of HPAC Engineering‘s Editorial Advisory Board, Valentine A. Lehr, PE, FASHRAE, is noted for innovation in high-rise construction, hotel design, and master planning of complex projects. He has led design efforts for numerous award-winning environmental projects.

THE MANUFACTURER
The vice president of sales and marketing for Reliable Controls Corp., the Victoria, British Columbia-based designer and manufacturer of Internet-connected building controls and green building-automation controls, Tom Zaban, P.Eng., has a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Waterloo and a family-business background in electronics manufacturing.

THE INTEGRATOR
As the vice president of sales and marketing for Delta Controls Inc., the Surrey, British Columbia-based developer and manufacturer of building-automation systems, Brian Dutt is responsible for the company’s product-strategy, marketing-services, and global-sales teams. He has an MBA from Simon Fraser University and a diploma of technology in electronic engineering.

THE ADVANCED USER
H. Michael Newman manages the energy-management-and-control system at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. The system extends to some 150 major buildings, includes equipment and communication protocols from more than 10 suppliers, and incorporates several thousand field devices and hundreds of thousands of sensors, actuators, and data points.

Following are the questions and the responses they elicited.

1. In this age of universal graphical user interfaces (GUI), is there any reason to continue using a BAS manufacturer’s graphics instead of Web-browser-type operator interfaces?

“In general, no,” the survey’s designer participant, Valentine A. Lehr, PE, FASHRAE, a senior partner of New York-based Lehr Consultants International and a member of HPAC Engineering‘s Editorial Advisory Board, said.“There is no reason for the manufacturer’s graphics.”

The survey’s advanced-user participant, H. Michael Newman, manager of the Utilities Computer Section at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., agreed: “If by ‘manufacturer’s graphics’ you mean a client GUI application used for the run-time operation of a BAS that must be installed and maintained on every potential workstation, as opposed to an application used for BAS setup, configuration, or commissioning, then the answer clearly is no. The software tools available to GUI designers for BAS, such as JavaScript and other scripting languages, supplement HTML (HyperText Markup Language) display technology to permit controls, such as buttons, scroll bars, sliders, and other user-input devices, to be displayed and actuated, thus, allowing operators to interact with the BAS through a Web browser with nearly the same look and feel of traditional client GUI.”

One should not be so quick to dismiss the value of manufacturers’ graphics, the survey’s manufacturer participant, Tom Zaban, P.Eng., vice president of sales and marketing for Reliable Controls Corp., said.

“Just because browser-based technology is ubiquitous does not mean that content (i.e., graphics) no longer is needed …, Zaban said. “The more people go online, the higher their expectation for quality information becomes.”

As the survey’s controls-integrator participant, Brian Dutt, vice president of sales and marketing for Delta Controls Inc., explained: “Manufacturers often create higher-quality interfaces for use with their products. It is quite simple for a manufacturer to create additional properties and functionality within their controllers that go beyond those defined by open standards. This added functionality … is available to the end user only when utilizing the manufacturer’s software interface.”

One could argue, Zaban said, that: “Theoretically, there are enough image assets on the Web to make any manufacturer’s library redundant …, and maybe in time that could become true, but good luck. Try putting that into practice today. You would have to cope with the lack of images and the inconsistency in colour, texture, camera angle, and resolution — all necessary to deliver a professional-looking end product. I would expect for the time you would spend piecing together a functional public-domain library you could hire a team of pimply faced kids to make a new library from scratch and do it cheaper with a better result. Then, you will need the animations. Forget it — game over.

“There is an intimate tie-in to each manufacturer’s product and the behavior of any animation of modest complexity,” Zaban continued. “The frames of the animation are ‘coded’ to behave according to the bits set within the object, which, in turn, are based on values/states measured and/or calculated by the controller or derived by direct operator input. There is no consistent standard in the industry describing that relationship that I am aware of. … The nature of animations is just too creative to nail down to a standard that would cover a wide variety of cases.”

Summary. There seems to be agreement among the survey participants that the industry is moving toward browser-based graphics. Because such graphics require special objects and support features developed by direct digital control (DDC) system manufacturers, the creation of generic graphics is seen as expensive.

2. Is there a good reason not to consider using multiple vendors’ products in a single system?

“There are several reasons to avoid mixing and matching, although the technical barriers essentially have been eliminated in recent years through the development and widespread adoption of standard networking protocols …,” advanced user Newman, who chaired the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ BACnet committee from 1987 to 2000, said. “The most significant impediment would be the need to become proficient with the configuration, programming, commissioning, operation, and maintenance of equipment from different manufacturers. This involves training, documentation, the need to have spare parts for each system, and so on.”

That does more than increase cost, controls integrator Dutt said.

“Developing intimate knowledge of a single manufacturer’s product is spread across multiple individuals within a value-added reseller’s (VAR’s) technical team,” Dutt said. “If the VAR chooses to support multiple manufacturers, it typically will develop knowledge specialists for each product family. This increases the risk to the organization should the specialist choose to leave the organization. It also causes risk to the service and support of the project longer term.”

Varying perspectives of usefulness of increasingly common practices

In the absence of operation-and-maintenance personnel with the requisite level of knowledge and skill, “You would need to be sure that you have the necessary support from the different suppliers to avoid finger-pointing in the event the systems don’t cooperate as expected and required,” Newman said.

Summary. Despite improved capabilities for developing multivendor networks, the survey participants urge caution.

3. Is it practical to remove GUI development from a controls contract and employ someone who specializes in developing GUI using standard server-based tools?

“Yes, that is the preferred approach …,” designer Lehr said. “We are using it on larger projects.”

Controls integrator Dutt sees it as practical only in situations in which an owner is seeking competitive bids.

“If the owner is happy with the current solution they have, then it is better to leave the interface and controls to be supplied from a single vendor,” Dutt said. “In my experience, most building managers are looking to work with controls contractors they can trust to do a good job.”

Manufacturer Zaban said he can think of only one case in which it would be practical: “A university has multiple vendors supplying various automation systems to its campus. The contracts call for basic graphics to be created and commissioned. Then, after the job is done, the university retains a different company that re-uses the graphic annotations of the base contract, but slides in a completely new graphic and gussies things up using the tools of that specific vendor so that the final graphics are very consistent with all of the previously completed buildings on campus. The university gets the value it wanted in the graphic (a relatively intuitive collection of dynamic data on one screen), but tosses out the base image because it is not worth the money and time fighting the original contractor because they used the wrong shade of gray.”

The tools used to create the content of interactive Web-accessible displays are almost entirely manufacturer-specific, advanced user Newman said.

“Some suppliers use commonly available software, such as Microsoft Visio, (Lonworks) to develop their system graphics, while others use entirely proprietary applications,” Newman said. “Even if the format of the graphic is ‘standard,’ the display of real-time data, archival trend data, or other database information requires manufacturer-specific ‘callback’ routines to collect the data and present it to the server. If, as is common, the graphic is stored in a proprietary format, it is the job of the manufacturer’s server to interpret the graphic file, render it into Web-displayable form, and ship it to the browser. All of this is not to say that there are not contractors who are competent with vendor XYZ’s GUI-development tools. If your server is from XYZ, you certainly do have the option of hiring a third-party contractor to develop or extend the GUI.”

Summary. The survey participants have mixed opinions as to whether it is preferable to have the manufacturer supplying the controls for a project also provide the graphics because proprietary display-development tools will have to be employed no matter how a graphical interface is procured. The opinion appears to be that there is rough equivalency among the capabilities of various manufacturers’ graphics software.

4. How far down into control-system architecture should designers push to replace specialized HVAC control components with more-standard general-purpose IT products?

“There is some argument to say the marketplace should determine this issue,” designer Lehr said. “However, in response to the question, if pushed, it should be down to the router (Ethernet) level.”

Because of current building practices, replacing specialized HVAC components with more-standard general-purpose IT products is practical only to the building-controller level, controls integrator Dutt said.

“Most application controllers are required to be commissioned before the end of a project,” Dutt explained. “This makes it difficult to cost-effectively deploy IT-based controls at the application level. If the owner of the project is a stakeholder in the IT-based solution, then it is possible, but it will take a significant amount of effort to ensure the design survives the construction phase. Currently, it is cost-effective to deploy IT networks to the building-controller level, as this network typically can be installed during construction and can be used during system commissioning.”

Manufacturer Zaban believes: “We’re already ‘all the way down’ from an architecture perspective. … Most designers just don’t know it yet.

“Now that we have a decent standard open protocol — ‘decent’ meaning well-defined, popular, and, most importantly, extensible — we can go ahead and write BIM (building information modelling) algorithms that would fully specify all aspects of building controls,” Zaban explained. “That means controller profile, network, sequence, interoperability, database, alarm, commissioning, wiring, documentation, service information, and even part numbers.”

A BIM BAS model is a “pet project” Zaban said he has been “threatening to do … just to shake up the industry a bit. …

Varying perspectives of usefulness of increasingly common practices

“It would represent the Holy Grail of DDC implementation …,” Zaban said. “It also would put a lot of frustrated consultants out of their misery because it would minimize their exposure to the technology. … The means already is there; you don’t need to ‘push’ any further. … We have general programmable controllers that can be applied to highly specialized applications, and the protocol provides deep integration into IT models.”

Summary. It appears there are no restrictions as to where a BAS network can be connected to a larger building or campus IT network. Indeed, on some projects, a stand-alone BAS network is connected to an IT network for local- and remote-operator oversight, while on others, components down to terminal-unit controllers are connected directly to a standard IT network. How a BAS network is configured in association with an IT network largely is determined by physical access, bandwidth, and network integrity/responsibility.

5. Should designers promote Web-enabled access for multiple buildings?

“Yes, this is an excellent approach …,” designer Lehr said. “The only limitation is reluctance to add cost.”

In the building-management industry, an increasing number of people are being asked to do more with less, manufacturer Zaban said.

“For example, one health-care manager I know who is doing a great job at tracking his facilities’ energy performance is facing a significant expansion of the hospital, but there is no budget to hire additional resources to keep up with the additional paperwork,” Zaban said. “Another property manager I know who is responsible for several large properties in downtown Vancouver is happy his company is growing. But they just acquired a new significant property downtown, and he does not have additional staff to delegate fuel purchases, energy tracking, and comfort-tracking reports to.”

The bottom line, Zaban continued, is that, “Property managers must become more efficient and organized to cope with their expanding workload, and we need to be there to help them.”

That may not necessarily be through a Web-accessible control system (WACS), controls integrator Dutt said.

“The designer should first understand the true needs of the building owner and then, based on his past experience, make a recommendation that will suit that particular situation,” Dutt said. “While most facilities can easily justify a WACS, there may be situations in which individual platforms and operators make business sense.”

Advanced user Newman sounded a word of caution regarding Web-enabled access for multiple buildings: “If the GUI servers are from different manufacturers, the operator will end up being in different operational environments for each system. That means the operator will have to learn different ways of performing the same function on each of the systems. The steps to access and change a temperature set point, for example, may be very different from one system to the next. Still, having to maintain only one operating system and browser at each operator site is a big advantage over the old days.”

Summary. The survey participants seem to agree that multiple-building access is a reasonable expectation, although it must serve a basic need and employ a common interface platform to be truly useful.

CONCLUSION

The responses of the four experts surveyed for this article indicate that the future of BAS lies in building-system components with on-board digital controls integrated into WACS with standard network connections. There are differences, however, about how open or selective the platforms used to integrate building-system components will be. Whatever developments occur, the buildings industry generally seems to have embraced standards employed in IT networks to the point multi-manufacturer digital control networks can be supported. What happens next, as one of the survey’s participants noted, is a matter for the market to determine.

The question of operator interfaces continues to vex many in the industry. That problem may be solved with building-system components with not only on-board controls, but on-board graphics, trends, and other features that can be integrated into standard Web front ends. If, however, data required for day-to-day operations need to be stored in servers, then, as another of the survey’s participants pointed out, the different operational features and environments could make such networks unmanageable.

In any case, the march toward standardization appears more robust than ever. Not long ago, building-automation graphical interfaces employed almost no Web-browser techniques and technologies; now, Web approaches are the basis of many such packages. How close we are to a complete convergence of BAS and IT is difficult to tell, but it is not too much of a stretch to say that when the convergence is complete, there may be nothing to distinguish one from the other.