As we slip and slide through the myriad of acronyms and adjectives now surrounding our industry, it becomes necessary for us to invest in the occasional head retread to make sense of what all these changes may mean. We hope that the "State-of-the-Art Capabilities in Building Automation" will serve as a catalyst for you to renew your thoughts on the rapid changes in the building automation industry.

Last month's column provided an outline plus some insight to the sessions and content. An online overview of the sessions is provided at As we gather input for our sessions by discussion, e-mail, and website inspection, it becomes obvious that the media is the message. The acceptance of the Internet as an industry communication standard is maturing rapidly. Every day new uses are being demonstrated by the industry. E-commerce has been widely accepted not only between contractor/vendor and client, but it has become more the business-to-business "B2B" model. Companies are finding that the convenience of 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year access to quoting and ordering products is mandatory to span time zones.

At the time of this writing, over 240 companies are exhibiting automation-related products at the sold out AHR Expo show in Atlanta. More than 90% of these companies listed web addresses.

BACnet and Lon Protocols ... and don't forget the IT Industry!

My speaking partner Dave Branson will update us on new roads to interoperability and how the standards are actually being used on real projects. Dave will talk about BACnet and Lon Protocols, and, of course, the IT industry.

BACnet and Lon are familiar open protocols to the hvac controls industry. The Information Technology industry has spawned an entirely new set of scripting languages and a generation of young workers to write them. With the intent of integration in mind, some development efforts are now blending these protocols and soft technologies together.

In addition, Dave will also talk about developing a logical method by which to coordinate integration of building automation and wireless usage in building automation.

Our sessions will include discussion on:

  • Communication standards. Communication standards have been instrumental in the migration of ddc control as an integral part of most hvac equipment. "The lower cost and increased functionality of combining powerful ddc microprocessors with standard communication protocols is resulting in the componentization of the control for the hvac industry. Field devices that were traditionally supplied by the control vendor are appearing as component controllers, which are part of each hvac device. This trend is just beginning, but is destined to grow rapidly in the next few years." (A quote from my upcoming article to be published in next month's issue.)
  • BACnet and BACnet Manufacturers Association. Several companies displaying BACnet interoperability will be featured at the upcoming show. They are looking for an even larger number of participants in their live demonstration than at the show last year. Demonstrations like this are important to the industry and to prove that standards in networking protocol are real and vital now. The pushing down of the BACnet standard to a field/device level using RS485 and other protocols is greatly increasing its usefulness.
  • The LonMark Interoperability Association membership has increased over 25% in 2000 to over 270. Working together, association members are driving the widespread use of open, interoperable control systems across industries and across the globe using Echelon Corporation's LonWorks(r) networks. The LonMark product catalog of certified devices now contains over 220 products that are eligible to carry the LonMark logo, an indicator that a product has been designed to interoperate over a LonWorks network. Also in the pipeline for certification are more than 45 additional products, potentially bringing the total number of certified products to over 250 by the end of the year.
  • A browser-based presentation of everything will be discussed.

The session on Wednesday morning will let the industry provide feedback for these state-of-the-art sessions for future shows. The sessions were first started at the Dallas meeting and enhanced for Atlanta. The education of attendees at these expositions is important, allowing attendees and exhibitors to get the most out of each show. Please share your feedback with us. ES