July 2004
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BACnet Committee Celebrates 17th Anniversary

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ATLANTA – The BACnet committee celebrated the 17th anniversary of its inaugural meeting at the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE) 2004 Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

That first meeting was held in the same hotel on June 27, 1987. At that time, the conventional wisdom in the industry was that the task of developing a consensus standard communication protocol for building automation systems was doomed to fail because it would be impossible to get manufacturers to agree to a communication standard.

"The atmosphere in that inaugural meeting was very tense," Steve Bushby, former committee chair, said. "Everyone in the room was trying to figure out what hidden agendas might be present as well as who was really in favor of developing a standard and who wanted to kill the process."

"People were surprised by the outcome of that first meeting," remembered Mike Newman, who was chair at that time. "The committee leadership had come into the meeting prepared to produce concrete results. A plan had been developed to create a committee structure by forming specific working groups with well-defined and complementary tasks. Enthusiastic and dedicated members had already been lined up to fill the key positions and get things rolling."

It was a long and deliberative process but the standard was eventually published in 1995 and is now a world standard that has been translated into four languages.

A new consolidated version of the standard that includes the most recent addenda has been published as ANSI/ASHRAE 135-2004 and was available for purchase for the first time at the 2004 Annual Meeting.

The tradition of making significant progress at each committee meeting has continued to this day, including several notable accomplishments from the meeting just ended.

The committee voted to recommend publication of proposed addendum a, which clarifies details about the behavior of life safety systems when placed out of service.

The committee also resolved all of the comments received from the public review of proposed addendum b. Addendum b contains 11 new features including event logging, the ability to collect and manage trends of multiple points, extending the number of character sets supported to include all languages in use around the world, and adding dynamic discovery features to MS/TP slave devices.

The committee also maintains a companion standard, 135.1, Method of Test for Conformance to BACnet. The committee made progress toward the development of a proposed addendum to this standard that would add a number of new tests that will be used to verify some of the BACnet features added by recently published addenda such as the newly enhanced Schedule object.

At the end of four days of meetings, the committee took some time to mark the 17th anniversary by looking back at the records of the inaugural meeting in 1987 and reminiscing about the exciting BACnet milestones that have occurred since that time.

This year's meeting also comes with a change in committee leadership. Bushby, who is the only person to have served as a voting member of the committee since its formation in 1987, marked the end of his tenure as chair with a ceremonial transfer of leadership to Bill Swan from Novar Controls.

"It is fitting that my term as chairman comes to an end at this place where we began 17 years ago," Bushby said. “The place of our beginning is now also the place for the start for a new generation of BACnet leadership. The committee is strong and vibrant and will certainly continue the tradition of fine service to the building industry that has marked its past."

"It is an honor to have the opportunity to accept the responsibility of leading an activity that has had such a tremendous impact on the industry," said Swan, the third person to lead the BACnet committee and the first one representing a manufacturer. "The cooperation among manufacturers, users and industry experts from around the world that we have today was unthinkable when this process began. It signals that a bright future lies ahead for BACnet."

ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is an international organization of 55,000 persons. Its sole objective is to advance through research, standards writing, publishing and continuing education the arts and sciences of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration to serve the evolving needs of the public.


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