– Mike Newman and Ken Sinclair
H. Michael Newman, Manager, Building Automation and Control System
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
H. Michael Newman <email@example.com>
"BACnet - The Global Standard for Building Automation and Control
Published by Momentum Press, available from the publisher directly or
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.
Why did you decide to write your new book on BACnet?
For years, basically since the standard was first published in 1995,
people have been asking for BACnet training. While there have been some
face-to-face courses organized by ASHRAE, the University of Wisconsin,
and BIG-EU in Europe, among others, there has never been a
comprehensive book on BACnet in the English language. My good friend
Hans Kranz wrote the first and, up until now, only full-length BACnet
book in 2005 in his native German. It is an excellent work but tends to
focus on doing BACnet jobs in the context of building automation
projects in Germany with all of their particular building codes,
bidding conventions, certification requirements, and the like. I just
felt the time had come to write a definitive text on BACnet in English.
What did you hope to accomplish?
First and foremost I wanted to provide a comprehensive description of
all of BACnet's key features. But I also wanted to give the reader the
kind of historical background and insights that only those of us who
have been involved since the very beginning have. Standards tell you
what you have to do to comply - they don't tell you why a standard is
written the way it is. So I try to give folks a "seat at the table" and
explain what the discussions were like that led to various specific
provisions. There is a reason for everything in the standard and I
think it is helpful to understand why things are the way they are. And,
of course, particularly in the early years, there was a lot of
bloodshed as the various factions fought for their positions. Today,
happily, harmony tends to reign supreme even though there are still
many difficult issues being debated. The main difference is that almost
everyone in the industry, and on the committee, now has a direct stake
in BACnet's success because their products depend on it so there is a
greater incentive than ever before to work together collaboratively.
What parts of the book are you especially happy with?
One of the unique features of the book is the chapter on BACnet's
development and evolution. I figured this might be my last chance to
tell the story before it slips into the mists of history, where it
probably belongs. But for those of us who lived it, it was a gripping
tale with heroes, villains, plots and counter plots - but, in the
end, the good guys won!
Beyond that, I was able to deal with every single BACnet object, every
service, and every networking technology in a way that I hope will be
really useful to the whole range of implementers, system designers, field
technicians, and users. Understanding the terminology is key and I have
tried to explain the terms in a way that makes them accessible to
everyone, recognizing that they are second nature to data communication
professionals but Greek to most everyone else. The book also goes into
detail about the many new features of BACnet-2012, the latest version
of the standard, such as the new alarm and event definitions as
well as providing some information and suggestions about designing and
specifying BACnet systems from the owner's/operator's perspective. I
think there is something for everyone.
What do you think the future holds for BACnet?
When BACnet was first published in 1995, most of us thought the job was
more or less done. We thought there would be a need to answer questions
once in a while or provide an occasional interpretation of something so
we formed a standing standard project committee that could do what
ASHRAE calls "continuous maintenance." Were we ever wrong! The amount
of new and updated material that is constantly being added is
staggering. This is due in large part not to deficiencies in the
original standard but to its success. People keep thinking of
better ways to do things and the supporting computer and networking
technologies keep evolving. In hindsight this is really not too
surprising. We knew that we were going to want to add new building
system extensions so we have added capabilities to support lighting,
access control, and, most recently, lifts and escalators. We have also
added enhanced security using the latest encryption, authentication and
authorization techniques. And IPv6 is probably just around the corner
so we have been trying to figure out how BACnet will make use of it
along with other common IT capabilities such as the Domain Name System,
RESTful web services and the like. The last chapter of the book is
devoted to describing the current set of addenda that have been
proposed with these and other new concepts, many of which are now in
public review. They can all be found, by the way, on the BACnet web
Do you have any plans for another book?
Yes, but it will be in an entirely different area. I am currently
working on a book dealing with aviation safety. As some people know, I
used to make my living as a pilot and flight instructor. Many of
today's high-profile accidents (the Colgan Air 3407 crash in Buffalo,
the Air France 447 crash into the Atlantic, the recent Asiana Flight
214 disaster in San Francisco) can be attributed to basic deficiencies
in flying skills, all of which can corrected through proper training.
As someone who both studied physics and taught flying, I think I can
help pilots understand the fundamentals of airspeed and altitude
control better that some of the resources that are currently in use.
This is an example of where "automation" is a great thing but it is no
substitute for knowing how to hand fly an airplane, particularly when
the automation goes haywire. We'll see!
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