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Last modified: February 10, 2010
XML and Web Services for Facilities Automation Systems


[Background document in preparation]

At last count, no fewer than 40 major groups were researching and developing applications for XML in the building-automation-system (BAS) field alone. — David Fisher (PolarSoft Inc.) in HPAC Engineering, April 2004.

Standards Activities, XML Vocabularies


"aecXML is an XML-based language used to represent information in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry. This information may be resources such as projects, documents, materials, parts, organizations, professionals or activities such as proposals, design, estimating, scheduling and construction. It is intended to be used as an XML namespace and to facilitate information exchange of AEC data on the Internet." [IAI North America web site]


American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

The goal of ASHRAE is to "advance the arts and sciences of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration and related human factors to serve the evolving needs of the public and ASHRAE members. ASHRAE has some 87 active standards and guideline project committees, addressing such broad areas as indoor air quality, thermal comfort,energy conservation in buildings, reducing refrigerant emissions, and the designation and safety classification of refrigerants."

The Title, Purpose and Scope for a proposed ASHRAE Guideline [20P] "XML Definitions for HVAC&R" was set out in a motion at the ASHRAE Board of Directors Meeting January 28 - February 1, 2001. The ASHRAE Guideline 20P: XML Definitions for HVAC&R was released for 30-Day Public Review: July 26, 2002 to August 25, 2002. The stated purpose of the Guideline is to "establish a common data exchange format for the description of commodity data and HVAC&R information via the standard XML (eXtensible Markup Language) formatting language. [In terms of scope the] data types would include catalog definitions in areas such as, but not limited to, chillers, air-handling units, fans, pumps, fittings, controls, as well as analytical or operations, building performance data..."

ASHRAE Annual Meeting Technical Program . The HVAC industry does not have a formal standard or guideline for the electronic information exchange between equipment and processes. Several ad hoc XML data models have been developed by various entities, such as IAI and FIATECH, and private industry. This seminar provides a comprehensive review of the available XML initiatives, their scope, limitations, applications and relation to ASHRAE Guideline 20P, XML Definitions for HVAC&R. This seminar and a subsequent forum are designed to capture feedback for input to development of Guideline 20P development.


Automating Equipment Information Exchange (AEX)

"The AEX project is developing data exchange specifications for automating the design, procurement, delivery, operation and maintenance of engineered equipment. Phase 1 of the AEX project delivered XML specifications for exchanging data sheet information for centrifugal pumps and shell and tube heat exchangers. The AEX Phase 1 XML Schemas include 24 namespaces and over 90 separate schema definition files. The AEX XML schemas include a complete set of core reusable schemas (10 namespaces) and a set of 14 subject-specific schemas."

Phase 2 is extending this work to support additional types of equipment and is developing pilot implementations with participation by software suppliers and equipment suppliers. The Phase 2 activity includes improving the AEX Phase 1 schemas, developing trial implementations of the AEX Phase 1 schemas, and working with NIST on establishing the AEX testbed. The team is assessing mechanisms for aligning or linking the AEX schemas with other domain models and namespaces. It is also conducting trial uses of evolving eBusiness protocols, e.g., OAGI BODs and UBL, and extending the Phase 1 schemas to support information for additional types of equipment and building systems models. The additional equipment types include: induction motors, air coolers, reciprocating compressors, pressure vessels, centrifugal fan, centrifugal compressors, control valves, storage tanks, relief valves and transmitters..."


Building Automation and Control Networks (BACnet)

"BACnet — 'A Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks' was developed under the auspices of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). BACnet is an American national standard (ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 135), a European pre-standard, and an ISO global standard (ISO 16484-5). The protocol is supported and maintained by ASHRAE Standing Standard Project Committee 135."

A BACnet XML Working Group was formed to work on defining applications of XML relevant to BACnet systems. The WG Convener is H. Michael Newman of Cornell University. "This group had its first meeting at Ohio State in September 2002 and is in the process of defining various application areas for XML technology. Among the 'use cases' discussed were object profiles, EPICS documents, a Device Definition Language specification, Protocol analyzer traces [i.e., what is seen on the 'wire', including timestamps, source and destination addresses, etc], router configuration information, network topology information, and anything that can be 'extended' by a 'vendor', i.e., enumerations..." The BACnet XML Working Group is supported by a Yahoo Groups list.

The XML Working Group is producing an XML Protocol Implementation Conformance Statement (XPICS) as a "machine-readable device description language; this is a first step toward the development of automated configuration of BACnet systems..." [July 2003 announcement]

[February 09, 2010] New BACnet Standard Addenda Support Data Representation in XML ASHRAE Announcement. ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating And Air-Conditioning Engineers) recently announced the approval of XML Addendum to the BACnet Standard. "Arguably one of the most significant addenda in some time, Addendum 135-2008t was approved for publication at the ASHRAE Winter Meeting in Orlando, FL. The base specification is "ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 135, A Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks." In all, eight addenda were approved, and are expected to be available on by the end of February, 2010. The addenda include a specification for a standard way of representing data in XML that will give BACnet new capabilities for communications between a wide range of applications. The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a popular technology in the data processing and communications worlds due to its capability to model complex data and its flexibility to be transformed and extended... The BACnet XML syntax is intended to be the core data representation for a variety of uses: (1) Powerful new Web services that are capable of efficient exchange of complex structured data. (2) An electronic version of a BACnet PICS document, consumable by workstations and other tools, to describe the capabilities of a device. (3) An "as built" description of a deployed device, distributed either as a separate file or as a BACnet File object resident in the device itself. (4) Descriptions of proprietary objects, properties and data types, which may be simple, for basic data sharing purposes, or extremely rich, providing complete descriptions of the meaning and usage of the data in multiple human languages. (5) An export/import format for tools and workstations publish their knowledge of a complete system of devices and networks. (6) An XML version of an EPICS, including the complete test database and other test-oriented data..."

[October 22, 2004]   ASHRAE Releases BACnet Web Services Interface Specification for Public Review.    A public review draft has been released for the BSR/ASHRAE Web Services Addendum to the ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 135-2004 (BacNet). The Building Automation and Control Networks (BACnet) specification is an American national standard (ANSI), a European pre-standard, and an ISO global standard. The BACnet data communication protocol provides a set of rules governing the exchange of data over a computer network. The rules govern, for example, "what kind of cable to use, or to how to form a particular request or command in a standard way. What makes BACnet special is that the rules relate specifically to the needs of building automation and control equipment, i.e., they cover things like how to ask for the value of a temperature, define a fan operating schedule, or send a pump status alarm." According to the ASHRAE announcement, potential uses of the Addendum's Web Services technology include "simplifying access to building energy and performance data for inclusion in spreadsheets and other management reports; accessing equipment run-time data for use by maintenance management systems; allowing tenant control of space temperature setpoints; coupling of room scheduling with ventilation and comfort control, etc." Creation of the new Web Services Interface Addendum was motivated by a recognition that Web services "is emerging as the predominant technology for the integration of a wide variety of enterprise information. The addendum therefore defines a standard means of using Web services to integrate facility data from disparate data sources, including BACnet networks, with a variety of business enterprise applications." The BACnet XML Working Group "is working on defining applications of the Extensible Markup Language (XML) relevant to BACnet systems. It is also working on Web service definitions that will allow data exchange between building automation and control systems and various enterprise management systems. In June 2004, after months of intense effort by the Web Services Task Team of the BACnet/XML Working Group, SSPC 135 unanimously voted to recommend public review of the WS addendum to BACnet-2004.


Continental Automated Building Association (CABA)

"CABA is a not-for-profit industry association that promotes advanced technologies for the automation of homes and buildings in North America. [Its] mission is to encourage the development, promotion, pursuit and understanding of integrated systems and automation in homes and buildings."

In April 2003 CABA announced that it would "establish a committee to work on the creation of guidelines concerning the use of XML and Web services in building automation and control applications. The committee is entitled the Open Building Information Xchange. The creation of the committee will address the application of new communication standards for Web-based communications such as XML, SOAP and Web services within building control systems. Committee members would be encouraged to apply the finished guideline to their products. The guideline would also be provided to standards organizations such as OASIS, ASHRAE, EIA/TIA and others for potential acceptance. The XML/Web Services Guideline Committee is a sub-committee of the CABA Standards Committee..."


Control System Modeling Language (CSML)

The Control System Modeling Language has been presented by David Robin (Automated Logic Corporation) to the BACnet XML Working Group. It offers a way "to represent the configuration and capabilities of control system devices in XML and can potentially be used to solve EPICS and object profile problems." Among the main goals of CSML: "Provide a consistent XML syntax designed for transformability into other formats using XSLT. The syntax design supports strongly-typed definition and instances and dynamically-typed prototype and instances (with safety checks). The single Schema and data model covers published standards and proprietary extensions. Syntax and data model consistency means that every data entity can have 'named values', not just enumerated types. Provide a simple way to overlay new metadata: language packs, protocol maps, UI information, etc. Design flexible mappings into different binary representations for different protocols. Provide comprehensive and consistent inheritance, type/prototype, and instance/value system. There should be enough documentation metadata for a basic UI, and some human readable docs, too..."

From an early design paper by Dave Robin: "Control Systems Modeling Language (CSML) files contain information for modeling control devices expressed in a standardized eXtensible Markup Language (XML) form. CSML files are machine and human readable representations of the implementation of devices, objects and properties within a given device or collection of devices. CSML is both a data definition language and a data instance language. While CSML has an XML schema for validating a CSML file, CSML is itself a schema for a control systems data model. XML schema is adequate for defining the structure of the CSML file, but is not rich enough to capture all the information that is needed to fully define a control system's data structure, presentation, and semantics. Beyond the simple data structure definitions, the meta-data enabled by CSML includes usage, restrictions, protocol encodings and mappings, multilingual documentation, user permissions, default values, etc..." [DR-024-2]

"New innovations including Firewall Friendly routing and BACnet XML/Web Services are under active development and will soon be available for public review," said H. Michael Newman, chair of the BACnet/XML Working Group. The BACnet/XML Working Group has been developing XML/Web services technology for several years. "With the current Control System Modeling Language proposal, we have developed a comprehensive set of XML data definitions for building automation and with the new BACnet Web Services proposal, we are nearing a complete solution to allow IT systems to access building automation data'..." [from a 2004-01 press briefing]


  • See the 'Files' area of the BACnet-XML-WG web site (Yahoo Groups)

Green Building XML Schema (gbXML)

"The Green Building XML schema, referred to as 'gbXML', was developed to facilitate the transfer of building information stored in CAD building information models, enabling integrated interoperability between building design models and a wide variety of engineering analysis tools and models available today. Today, in 2004, gbXML has the industry support and wide adoption by the leading CAD vendors, Autodesk, Graphisoft, and Bentley. With the development of export and import capabilities in several major engineering modeling tools, gbXML has become a de facto industry standard schema. Its use dramatically streamlines the transfer of building information to and from engineering models, eliminating the need for time consuming plan take-offs. This removes a significant cost barrier to designing resource efficient buildings and specifying associated equipment. It enables building design teams to truly collaborate and realized the potential benefits of Building Information Modeling..." [home page]


IAI Industry Foundation Classes (IFC)

"International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI) is an alliance of organizations within the construction and facilities management industries dedicated to improving processes within the industry through defining the use and sharing of information. Organizations within the alliance include architects, engineers, contractors, building owners, facility managers, manufacturers, software vendors, information providers, government agencies, research laboratories, universities and more..."

Industry Foundation Classes (IFC)is an open standard object-oriented data model for the AEC+FM community. The model covers tangible entities (walls, windows, pumps, actors, etc) and abstract entities (spaces, constraints, relationships, etc.) The IFC standard is specified using ISO STEP-EXPRESS technologies, with translation and optimization to XML. XML for IFC2x was available October 2003. The IFC2x release provided definition of property sets in XML as part of the release specification and definition of the IFC 2xML as part of the IFC 2x deliverables. IFC2x2 was made available in November 2003. [from and the IFC2x announcement]

IfcXML. The version 1.02 of IfcXML is the IAI "recommended standard" to convert IFC Releases (IFC2x and beyond) into XML schema specifications. The first version, 1.0, was unveiled publicly on April 25th, in Seoul Korea, and presented again on July 16th, 2001 in Vancouver, BC, at the IAI XML Coordination meeting. (See details at The following IAI-ITM meeting on July 17-18, 2001 had accepted ifcXML version 1.0 for IFC2x as an IAI "recommended" standard. See:

IfcXML2. "The version 2 of ifcXML (short ifcXML2) is the new methodology to publish the IFC Standard as an XML schema definition (XSD). The ifcXML2 methodology is compatible with the current pre committee draft (CD) version of the upcoming standard to convert EXPRESS structures into XML schema structures - ISO10303-28 ed.2. The ifcXML2 methodology has now been approved for the generation of XML schema definitions for IFC2x Edition 2 and forthcoming IFC releases. The first schema, ifcXML for IFC2x2 was unveiled publicly on January 28th, in Paris during the IAI summit. It currently has the release candidate 1 status. After intensive testing it is anticipated that a final recommendation will be officially announced during the next IAI summit in Bath. See:

IFC 2x Edition 2 Unveiled. On May 14, 2003 Lee Chuan Seng, deputy chair of IAI International unveiled "the new IFC 2x Edition 2 release during an Industry Day presentation... IFC 2x Edition 2 brings together the inputs from many international projects into a single consistent model. Every Chapter of the IAI has contributed to this release. IFC 2x Edition 2 is the largest ever increase in the capability of the IFC model and makes interoperability in construction truly possible. The expansion of IFCs to cover structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection and environmental aspects as well as expansion of architectural, cost, construction and facilities management coverage means that lifecycle information sharing can now be achieved. IFC 2x Edition 2 builds on the IFC 2x platform now being supported by leading software vendors. Information exported according to the 2x platform structure is upwards compatible with 2x Edition 2. This, together with new capabilities included means that IFC 2x Edition 2 is easier to implement than previous releases. IFC 2x Edition 2 development has addressed nearly 1000 individual issues to ensure that the quality of both the model and its documentation is assured..."


LonTalk Protocol

"LonTalk, the communications protocol for LonWorks networks, is part of the MAC layer of BACnet. Additionally, all LonMark media types are included. Both LonWorks networks and BACnet will be used cooperatively to meet the needs of the marketplace. LonWorks networks are ideally suited for real-time control with smart sensors, actuators, drives, VAVs, and micro controllers; while the BACnet Protocol is best suited for data acquisition and supervisory control..." [from the Standards Update document]

LONMARK International is a "global membership organization created to promote and advance the business of efficient and effective integration of open, multi-vendor control systems utilizing ANSI/EIA/CEA 709.1 and related standards."

According to the LonMark Interoperability Association, "over 3,500 companies are using Echelon's LonWorks platform to provide systems and solutions for building, home, industrial, telecommunications, transportation and other industries. There are over 24 million LonWorks based devices installed worldwide..."


NIST Product Data Standards for HVAC/R Systems

The purpose of this NIST project is to "continue the development of a standards-based infrastructure supporting the design, analysis, specification, procurement, installation, operation, and maintenance of heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) systems..."

"The first task is to expand the collection of equipment type schemas along with the associated instance documents containing manufacturers' data. The expansion will provide sufficient variety to support various use cases for the repository including: (1) data selection and exchange with applications such as BFRL's CONTAMW software for multizone airflow and contaminant transport analysis as well as BFRL's Virtual Cybernetic Building Testbed; (2) identification and selection of functionally equivalent replacements for HVAC/R equipment that has reached the end of its life-cycle; (3) identification and selection of new HVAC/R equipment during the facilities design process; (4) e-business procurement scenarios wherein customers try to locate, search, and select from available Web-based commodity HVAC/R equipment catalogs; and (5) derivation of semantic mappings between the IFC models and the results of the AEX effort, a companion SIMA project.

The second task is to begin implementing the infrastructure for establishing access to the repository using web services. The deliverable for this task will be a viable method for unambiguous and user-friendly access to the repository, including the retrieval of specific data elements via services. Such retrieval capabilities will not only satisfy the needs of use cases (1) through (4) but will provide an important source of experiential results needed for comparing data exchange methodologies with those being tested in the AEX e-business effort.

In the first phase of this second task, the repository will be ported from a straightforward, static web page to a back-end database management system (DBMS). Clearly, as the variety of equipment types expands and the corresponding number of instance documents grows, a more sophisticated inventory management system will be required. This phase of the task includes pre-implementation analysis of the various DBMS' available for managing XML documents as well as design, development, and testing of the database.

The second phase of this task, spanning the remainder of FY04 and extending into FY05, includes the analysis and implementation of a fully layered web services protocol stack to support: (1) message transport between applications and the database/repository for data access and retrieval; (2) encoding of the messages using, at first, XML-RPC (Remote Procedure Calls) and, possibly as an enhancement depending upon the results of the design analysis, SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol); (3) description of the provided services for the public interface to the repository using WSDL (Web Services Description Language); and (4) a services discovery layer using UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration) to support the discovery and identification of the applicable repository services via the Web, which would greatly improve the functionality of applications seeking out the repository and its services..." [excerpted]


OASIS Open Building Information Exchange Technical Committee

In May 2004 OASIS announced the formation of an oBIX (Open Building Information Exchange) technical committee. The purpose of the oBIX TC is to "define a standard web services protocol to enable communications between building mechanical and electrical systems and enterprise applications. This protocol will enable facilities and their operations to be managed as full participants in knowledge-based businesses. The oBIX specification will utilize web services for exchange of information with the mechanical and electrical systems in commercial buildings." An initial meeting of the oBIX TC was scheduled to be held as a teleconference on June 15, 2004, sponsored by Trane.

Background: "Presently most mechanical and electrical systems are provided with embedded digital controls (DDC). Most of these devices are low cost and not enabled for TCP/IP. They are installed with dedicated communications wiring. Larger DDC controllers provide network communications for these dedicated controllers. There are several well established binary protocols (BACnet, LonTalk, Modbus, DALI) that are used on these dedicated networks in addition to numerous proprietary protocols. While these binary protocols can be used over TCP/IP networks — they have challenges with routers, firewalls, security, and compatibility with other network applications. There is an added challenge in that the industry is split between several largely incompatible protocols.

Because oBIX integrates with the enterprise, it will enable mechanical and electrical control systems to provide continuous visibility of operational status and performance, flagging problems and trends for system analysis or human attention. OBIX provides a technology that enables facilities operators, owners and tenants to make decisions based on a fully integrated consideration of all life-cycle, environmental, cost, and performance factors.

TC Scope: The scope of the oBIX TC is to develop a publicly available web services interface specification that can be used to obtain data in a simple and secure manner from HVAC, access control, utilities, and other building automation systems, and to provide data exchange between facility systems and enterprise applications. In addition, the TC will develop implementation guidelines, as needed, to facilitate the development of products that use the web service interface. Work outside of the above will be considered out of scope for the TC..."


Open Building Information Xchange (oBIX)

"oBIX (Open Building Information Xchange) began its life in April of 2003 as the CABA XML/Web Services Guideline Committee. oBIX then took on a life of its own, with an expanded mission and increased visibility; in April 2004 CABA announced that it was in the process of being transferred to a technical committee at the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS).

oBIX is a focused effort by industry leaders and associations working toward creating a standard XML and Web Services guideline to facilitate the exchange of information between intelligent buildings, enable enterprise application integration and bring forth true systems integration. Based on Standards widely used by the IT Industry, the oBIX guideline will improve operational effectiveness giving facility managers and building owners increased knowledge and control of their properties. Comprised of representatives from the entire spectrum of the buildings systems industry, oBIX includes professionals from the security, HVAC, building automation, open protocol and IT disciplines.

The mission of the Open Building Information Exchange (oBIX) committee is to develop a publicly available web services interface specification that can be used to obtain data in a simple and secure manner from HVAC, access control, utilities, and other building automation systems, and to provide data exchange between facility systems and enterprise applications. In addition, the committee will develop implementation guidelines, as needed, to facilitate the development of products that use the web service interface..." [adapted from the oBIX home page 2004-05-08]


OLE for Process Control (OPC)

"OPC is open connectivity in industrial automation and the enterprise systems that support industry. Interoperability is assured through the creation and maintenance of open standards specifications. There are currently seven standards specifications completed or in development. Based on fundamental standards and technology of the general computing market, the OPC Foundation adapts and creates specifications that fill industry-specific needs. OPC will continue to create new standards as needs arise and to adapt existing standards to utilize new technology... OPC Complex Data is a "companion specification to Data Access and XML-DA that allows servers to expose and describe more complicated data types such as binary structures and XML documents..." [from "What is OPC?"]

Based on Microsoft's OLE (now ActiveX), COM (component object model) and DCOM (distributed component object model) technologies, OPC consists of a standard set of interfaces, properties, and methods for use in process-control and manufacturing-automation applications.The ActiveX/COM technologies define how individual software components can interact and share data. Backed by Microsoft's NT technology, OPC provides a common interface for communicating with diverse process-control devices, regardless of the controlling software or devices in the process. The goal of the standard is Plug-and-Play, a concept developed by Microsoft and a number of other companies a few years ago..." [from "OPC Technical Overview"]

The goal of the OPC XML-DA Specification is to develop flexible, consistent rules and formats for exposing plant floor data using XML. Specifically it is the desire of the OPC Board that this effort initially focus on exposing the same data that the existing OPC interfaces expose today such as Data Access and later, Alarms and Events and that the working group strive to produce a simple, usable first release of the specification in as short a time as possible. It will leverage work done by Microsoft and others on .NET, Web Services, SOAP and other XML frameworks..." [OPC Data Access]


General: Articles, Papers, News

  • [December 16, 2004] "Buildings Become Information Systems." By Daniel J. Weitzner (Technology and Society Domain Lead, World Wide Web Consortium; Principal Research Scientist, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory). From ComputerWorld (November 29, 2004). "The transparent enterprise is characterized by increased data integration possibilities across formerly stovepiped databases. Now, even the buildings that house our transparent enterprises are becoming transparent themselves. In response to the demands of energy efficiency, security, lower operating costs and the need to increase space-planning flexibility, the physical structures in which we work are on their way to becoming more closely integrated with our information infrastructure... In support of these goals, building systems, once the domain of HVAC engineers and security services, are becoming just one more information system. As with our other information systems, the first design requirement is that it be built on open standards for interoperability... As with our other information systems, the first design requirement is that it be built on open standards for interoperability. The International Standards Organization has even released a standard (ISO 16484-5:2003 [BACnet, ISO/ANSI/ASHRAE]) that 'defines data communication services and protocols for computer equipment used for monitoring and control of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration, and other building systems.' The aim of the standard is to facilitate 'the application and use of digital control technology in buildings.' As buildings become more automated, formerly disparate components (HVAC, LANs, security systems and even signage) will become interoperable with one another and with other information systems traditionally considered beyond the boundaries of the building systems themselves... New 'interoperable' building systems represent a dramatic change in design and function from even the most complex systems of the past. The critical change is that today's 'smart' buildings have APIs that allow the buildings' physical systems to be linked, as any other piece of software, to other parts of an enterprise information system. The interface between building systems and the rest of the enterprise information infrastructure will now be defined by a series of SOAP message formats and the exchange of XML-formatted data... The transparent building raises the design stakes for efforts to ensure the integrity, reliability and accuracy of enterprise information systems. Today, system faults may result in a sales order being lost or an employee's paycheck being delayed. Tomorrow, with more transparent and dynamic links between building systems and current information systems, the results could be an employee locked out of the office, power shutting down in a building at the wrong time or embarrassing information being flashed across the building's public information displays..."

  • [September 15, 2004] "2005 XML Symposium Prepares HVAC Industry for IT Convergence. XML and Web Services Still Emerge as Most Vital Enabling Technology for the Future of Integrated and Intelligent Buildings." - "The Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) and Clasma, Inc., announced today plans for the second annual XML Symposium to be held February 9, 2005, in conjunction with the world's largest HVAC/R event, AHR Expo at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. In a non-technical, high-level manner, the 2005 XML Symposium will communicate to the HVAC community the significant role XML and Web Services continue to play in this industry. As the industry witnesses further evidence of IT convergence, these technologies have become the most vital enabling technology for the future of integrated and intelligent buildings. XML and Web Services technologies are primarily utilized in the IT industry as well as many other industry groups that desire to leverage the Internet as a connectivity and automation vehicle. Further goals of the day-long XML Symposium are for attendees to understand how these technologies are driving new types of standards (data as opposed to network), and enabling cooperation between disparate approaches to open systems, an issue the HVAC/R industry has battled for over a decade. Symposium attendees will also hear status updates on XML initiatives including oBIX/OASIS, gain knowledge on specifying projects with XML and Web Services, see how non-HVAC issues are affecting the HVAC space, and leave with a reasonable expectation level of the adoption speed of XML and Web Services, particularly in the HVAC community. 'XML and Web Services continue to emerge as the foremost technology on the path to whole building integration,' Ron Zimmer, CABA president & CEO, said. 'IT convergence is truly upon us and to remain competitive in the HVAC market, it is imperative to understand the impact of XML and how it can bridge the enormous hurdles this industry has battled for many years.' Just as important as what the XML Symposium is, is what it is not. The XML Symposium is neither a training session, a debate on how to implement the technology, nor will it communicate that XML is a replacement technology for BACnet or LonMark. 'The XML Symposium will speak directly to all members of the HVAC community and will address the unique challenges this industry will face when implementing these new technologies,' Anto Budiardjo, Clasma president and CEO, said. 'It is targeted to all capacities in the industry including integrators, contractors, consultants and end users, all the players who must realize that XML and Web Services are potentially the ultimate integration mechanism for buildings and enterprises'..." See also "OASIS Forms Open Building Information Exchange (oBIX) Technical Committee."

  • [May 2004] "The Future of Facility Management: Why the Controls Industry Needs Internet Standards." By Paul Ehrlich (Trane Global Controls and Contracting, St. Paul, MN). In HPAC Engineering (May 2004). "Recently, there has been much discussion of the future within the controls industry. The dialogue has touched on many questions: What does the future hold for controls? What will be the impact of emerging technologies such as XML and Web Services? What will happen to buildings? How will the business of consulting engineers, mechanical and controls contractors, and suppliers evolve? ... customers are seeking ways to combine all of the systems in a building — to not simply control the HVAC, but coordinate security cameras, access control, electrical distribution, and fire protection. These systems not only need to be coordinated, they need to tie in with the information-technology (IT) systems (maintenance management, energy information, enterprise-resource management, human-resource planning, asset-management tracking) at the core of the owner's business. Key to the development of these solutions will be a series of standards that come out of the IT world. Why IT standards? Because they are what owners' databases, business applications, and, increasingly, facility-management systems are based on. These IT-dominated standards are: ethernet connectivity, Internet protocols (often called TCP/IP), and Internet standards — the dominant ones are XML and Web Services..."

  • [April 2004] "XML, Web Services, and the Problems of Enterprise-Level Data Exchange." Control Freaks Column. By David Fisher (PolarSoft Inc). In HPAC [Heating/Piping/Air Conditioning] Engineering (April 2004). "Thanks to international standards such as BACnet, the many technologies used with the Internet, and such widely used technologies as LonWorks and EIB/Konnex, we have many opportunities to access information from a diverse set of BAS sources much more easily. But at the moment, there is no standardized way to provide this kind of information to enterprise systems. On the surface, a standardized enterprise-level interface to building-automation systems may seem to be a good idea. While existing methods of BAS interoperability provide straightforward ways to access information, they are quite different from one technology to the next. When mixing technologies, such as BACnet and LonWorks, considerable expertise is required, as information must be converted to forms suitable for use in enterprise systems. This kind of detail and expertise is outside the mission boundary of enterprise developers. A number of groups, among them the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers' Standing Standards Project Committee 135 and the independent Open Building Information Exchange (oBIX), are looking to solve different aspects of this problem. All are thinking about methods of using XML and, in some cases, the related but different technology of Web Services. A quick survey of proposals being discussed reveals a wide range of opinions about what the problem actually is..."

  • [March 2004] "'X' Marks New Controls Hot Spot: Industry Groups Work to Realize Promise of XML and Web Services to Broaden Access to Building Systems Data." By Rita Tatum and Edward Sullivan. In Building Operating Management (March 2004). See the accompanying editorial by Edward Sullivan. "The software language known as XML has become a hot topic among control system manufacturers. Whether it is a large vendor that touts its proprietary systems, a LonWorks proponent, a manufacturer that specializes in BACnet systems or one of the companies that offer multiple options, major players across the controls spectrum are showing interest in XML as a way of exchanging building systems data with software programs used by different segments of the enterprise... For multibuilding developments — whether that means university campuses, government buildings, medical centers or corporations with buildings scattered in various locations — XML may offer a way to manage operations and share important data via Web services over the Internet or campus intranet system... The building automation industry has two groups working on standardizing ways to use XML for data exchange. One is the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), which developed BACnet. The other group is a CABA committee that is developing a guideline known as oBIX, for Open Building Information Exchange. Formally, the ASHRAE XML group has no liaison with the oBIX initiative, but several members of the ASHRAE committee participated in oBIX discussions and made contributions to its development... Through the XML working group, ASHRAE's BACnet committee is exploring ways to standardize and use XML in representing certain data types that are relevant to BACnet. Among the applications are Electronic Protocol Implementation Conformance Statements (EPICS)..."

  • [February 19, 2004] "Lab Makes Gains on Web-Based Demand Response System." By David Jones. In Today at Berkeley Lab (February 19, 2004). "Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory said last week they have wrapped up a successful trial run of an Internet-based system designed to avoid blackouts and help large electricity users cut their bills — without utility operators or building managers having to lift a finger... The test was designed to 'explore how a utility, an ISO [independent system operator] or the grid might communicate in the future' with customers to manage electricity use in large buildings whenever blackouts or excessive electricity demand threaten the grid, or when high prices might encourage large power users to reduce their energy use, Berkeley lab scientist and project principal investigator Mary Ann Piette said. Working with the company Infotility, the lab used a two-way communications language known as XML to send fictitious price signals through the Web to 'gateway boxes' attached to the different energy-management systems in the buildings — an Albertsons grocery store, a Bank of America office building, a Roche biotechnology facility in Palo Alto, Calif., the University of California at Santa Barbara library and the Ronald Dellums Federal Building in Oakland, Calif. After some initial glitches, researchers succeeded in shedding load at all five buildings in response to price increases. 'We've demonstrated that many different types of systems can listen to a common XML signal and initiate coordinated load control using the Internet,' said Piette, who works in the Berkeley lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division... The XML project was the first to test a technology providing fully automated demand response in large buildings through two-way communications, Piette said. XML sent consistent, fictitious price signals of $.10 per hour to the five buildings for most of the two-week test period. It also checked every five minutes to make sure the signals were being received... The XML system allowed LBNL researchers to follow the load shedding as it occurred. Preliminary figures from the test showed that, altogether, the buildings dropped about 10% of their power loads... The test illustrated the 'potential for flattening overall system load,' she said, which could prove especially useful on hot days when buildings with large air-conditioning systems tend to tax the grid and prices soar..."

  • [February 2004] "BACnet Conference and Expo: XML Takes Center Stage." By Keith E. Gipson (Impact Facility Solutions, Glendale, California). In HPAC Engineering (February 2004). A report from the 2003 event, held October 5-7 on the University of Cincinnati campus. "The convergence of building controls and information technology (IT), BACnet, and Extensible Markup Language (XML) was the hottest topic at the 2003 BACnet Conference and Expo, jointly hosted by BACnet Interest Group-North America and the BACnet Manufacturer's Association October 5-7 at the Kingsgate Marriott Hotel and Conference Center on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. Although vendors and their customers are starting to reap the benefits of open systems, it was clear during the conference that much confusion concerning building-control standards and the application of 'smooth' IT interfaces remains. Open IT standards are a must for building owners and managers. Although BACnet is a great solution, it was not designed for the IT Web environment and cannot be readily integrated with other enterprise business systems... on a technical level, Web Services can handle data much more easily and allow software to communicate more freely than traditional methods using proprietary application programming interfaces (APIs) because the directory function of a Web Service allows users to peruse a list of services, such as GetPointData, CmdPoint, SetSchedule, GetSchedule, etc. This is much easier than pouring through the sometimes cryptic examples and function calls common in traditional programming languages..."

  • [January 2004] "2003 Review." By Anto Budiardjo and Ken Sinclair. From (January 2004). Interview with Anto Budiardjo (President, Clasma Inc). Budiardjo: "2003 was a wake-up call. It should be remembered as the year that the next generation of building systems started to take shape. It was the year that XML and TCP/IP started to be widely used in this industry, although I know some would say it started a few years back... I'm afraid to say that 2004 will be a confusing year for many. There will be several pulling forces in play over the next few months, and to the casual observer it may not make much sense. The battle lines have been drawn. 2004 will be about evolving the standards, technology, products and mind set to move from an HVAC-centric industry into an IT-centric industry... In the past, the controls industry (an extension of the HVAC industry) ruled its own destiny. It created 'open' standards for itself and developed proprietary products, solutions and methodology. This industry has been able to do this simply because there were no driving forces for convergence. The IT community was too busy with their own problems, and they viewed the 'mechanical' nature of HVAC as lowly, unimportant stuff. The world left us alone... Because of convergence, the Internet and the inherent value of data in buildings, HVAC is becoming a part of something bigger. HVAC is now an integral part of how a building and its systems can make a positive impact on the organizations that own and manage them... The role [of LonMark and BACnet] is anything but diminished or concluded. Those two key groups hold a great deal of HVAC and buildings-related expertise, not to mention the vast amount of products, services, installed systems as well as skilled product development and project engineering people. Neither TCP/IP nor XML/oBIX will replace them; I view all of this as complimentary pieces of the puzzle...this one will just need to run its course and it's futile to try and figure out which one will 'win' and which one(s) will go away anytime soon. LonMark, BACnet and TCP/IP-based approaches have a very significant amount of momentum behind them, and so do proprietary systems and other connectivity initiatives such as Metasys, OPC, and Konnex..."

  • [December 2003] "What is oBIX?" By Paul Ehrlich and Ken Sinclair. From (December 2003). Interview with Paul Ehrlich (Business Development Leader, Trane Global Controls Business Unit). Ehrlich: "oBIX stands for Open Building Information Xchange, and it is an industry-wide initiative to define XML- and Web Services-based mechanisms to present building systems-related information on TCP/IP networks such as the Internet... The IT industry is adopting XML and Web Services as a critical technology for connectivity on the Internet as well as on corporate networks. Many significant industries that desire to leverage the Internet are also adopting XML and Web Services as a platform for exchanging information. While the decision of adopting XML/Web Services is a no-brainer, doing so without defining schemas and other cooperation standards does little to enable integration and interoperation in the building industry. oBIX is working to define such a mechanism specifically for the building systems industry... While many debate the strengths and weaknesses of LONMARK and BACnet, it is clear that neither one was designed for the Internet. Both appeared on the scene in the early to mid 90's when the significance of the Internet to buildings was not as profound as it is today. oBIX is working with both LONMARK and BACnet groups to enable oBIX to be THE vehicle that their systems can be taken to the TCP/IP layer in a consistent manner, a vehicle that can also be integrated with legacy/proprietary systems as well as future 'native' TCP/IP control systems... The initial work of oBIX will be to define a set of point data structures that are most commonly used when interfacing systems, with higher level EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) systems and integrated operation functions such as HMI/GUI systems. Such systems typically do not care if the information it seeks comes from a LONMARK, BACnet, proprietary or pure TCP/IP data system. It must be pointed out that this level of integration does not present the rich data structures within each of the systems such as internal PID loop parameters or many of the object properties available in LONMARK and BACnet systems... XML and oBIX will have a very significant effect on HVAC, especially in how HVAC systems are integrated with other systems, into the rest of the building systems, and more importantly with the enterprise systems. Without oBIX, these tasks are difficult to do. With oBIX and assuming the proliferation of XML, these tasks become very easy. Integrators will be able to create richer cross-systems and cross discipline web sites to satisfy users' needs..."

  • [January 2002] "Information Model: Key to Integration." By Eric Craton and Dave Robin (Automated Logic Corporation). From (January 2002). ['There has been much attention paid to the relative merits of various protocols in the Building Automation industry. The key to successful integration lies not in the protocol, but in the information model that it represents.'] "Since BACnet and EIB objects and LonMark functional profiles are information models, and XML is a modeling language, we could express these high level information models in XML and in so doing make them compatible with the emerging Web services architecture. Because of the flexibility of XML and the web services architecture, these high level models could be expanded to include other types of facility-related (but not necessarily building automation-related) information. If each building automation protocol developed its own XML model, however, we would have similar but incompatible system models. Today's problems of translating from one protocol to another at the building controller level would become tomorrow's translation problems at the Web services level. What's needed is a unified system model, in XML, that can be used by any building automation protocol. It should also be mentioned that this push toward Web services architecture should not be interpreted as an end to standard protocols. Web Services are useful as a computer-to-computer or software-application-to-software-application interface, but they are 'overkill' as a device-to-device interface. While it might be possible to expose information as XML at a building-controller level, it would not be practical to do so at a zone or unitary-controller level. Web services should be viewed more as a successor to OPC than a replacement for BACnet, EIB, or LON... XML, TCP/IP, or even Web services alone cannot provide interoperability between vendors. In order for interoperability to occur, vendors must not only agree on HOW they will communicate, but also on WHAT they will communicate. Because they include a high-level abstraction of what information is to be communicated, BACnet, EIB, and LonMark all provide the WHAT component of interoperability. By combining these information models with XML, and expanding the objective to include other non-HVAC related aspects of the facility, Web services can provide an information platform that is high-level, cross-platform, cross-discipline, and multi-vendor..." [alt URL]

  • [May 2001] "Control Networks and Interoperability." By H. Michael Newman (Manager, Utilities Computer Section, Cornell University). In Networked Controls - Supplement to HPAC Engineering (May 2001), pages 17-27. "Interoperable systems for building automation and control applications are easier than ever to implement. The key is the appropriate use of standards that have been specifically designed for the tasks at hand." [alt URL]

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