Better information about the practical implications of integrating historically separate building automation systems and improved industry standards are needed to meet the growing demand from building owners and operators to use system integration as a key method for reducing operating costs, improving energy efficiency, and better managing their facilities. This project expands the capabilities and usefulness of NIST’s unique whole building emulation laboratory facilities, creating a testbed for investigating building system integration challenges and providing the technical basis for improved industry standards. It also enables direct engagement in critical industry standards development and supporting policy activities that will drive advancement in industry products and practices.
Objective: To enable the development of a new generation of commercial products for integrated cybernetic building systems and transform industry practices for building operations, through a combination of measurement science research enabled by state-of-the-art testbeds and direct involvement in key standards development and policy activities by 2014.
What is the new technical idea? Testbeds for evaluating controls and fault detection and diagnostic tools have been identified as a key industry need. EL has successfully built a Virtual Cybernetic Building Testbed (VCBT) that combines the flexibility and reproducibility of simulation tools with networks of commercial building automation and control products to create a laboratory environment that realistically approximates actual building performance. The new idea is to expand the capabilities of the VCBT to emulate a wider range of buildings and operating conditions. The result will be a facility that can emulate a variety of building designs in any climate under both normal operating conditions and a range of fault or hazardous conditions. It will be a key resource for developing commissioning tools, fault detection tools, smart grid standards and operating practices, enhancements to the BACnet standard, performance metrics for commercial products, and best practice guidelines for building owners and operators. The products from this research facility, when combined with technical support for key underpinning standards and government policies to encourage adoption of new practices, will drive the needed industry changes.
What is the research plan? This project will enable the development of new integrated cybernetic building system control products and improved industry practices through three components:
 Measurement Science Roadmap for Net-Zero Energy Buildings – Workshop Summary Report, NIST Technical Note 1660, March 2010.
“Enhancement of the Virtual Cybernetic Building Testbed to Include a Zone Fire Model with HVAC Components”, Park, Reneke, Galler, Bushby, Davis, NISTIR 7414, April 2007.
“A Performance Analysis of BACnet Local Area Networks”, Song, Hong, Bushby, HVAC&R Journal, Vol. 14 No. 2, March 2008.
“BACnet for Utilities and Metering”, Holmberg, Bushby, Butler, ASHRAE Journal, Vol 50, No. 4, April 2008.
“Using the BACnet Communications Dynamic Link Library”, Galler, NIST TN1607, August 2008
“The Virtual Cybernetic Building Testbed - A Building Emulator”, Bushby, S. T., Castro, N.S., Galler, M.A., Park, C, ASHRAE Transactions Vol. 116, Part 1, 2010.
“BACnet Data Source Users Guide”, Galler, NISTIR 7825, October 2011.
A fault simulation library with a user interface for selecting and tracking faults during emulation runs to serve for testing HVAC FDD and commissioning tools.
HVACSIM+ type models developed to enable emulation of cooling towers, boilers and chillers.
Creation of a first generation VCBT using control products from seven cooperating companies for HVAC control, lighting control, physical access control, and fire detection. These devices are interconnected using a BACnet internetwork that uses all networking technologies defined in the BACnet standard.
An ISO Maintenance Agency was established to keep the ISO version of BACnet and its companion testing standard synchronized with the ASHRAE/ANSI standard.
A revised version of the BACnet standard was published in 2010. New features included advanced features for life safety systems, improvements to COV reporting, more support for international character sets, backup and restore features, XML data formats for building data, and improved error reporting, network security enhancements.
BACnet standard and its companion testing standard adopted by CEN, ISO and over 30 countries, EN ISO 16484-5 Building automation and control systems – Part 5: Data communication protocol (2010), EN ISO 16484-6 Building automation and control systems – Part 6: Data communication conformance testing (2009).
BACnet has been implemented by every major HVAC control system manufacture in the world and has become the protocol of choice for integrated building automation systems. Over 580 companies around the world make BACnet products.
BACnet interest groups have formed around the world to educate the building industry and promote the use of the technology.
A worldwide BACnet product testing and listing program has been established by BACnet International. Test laboratories are in operation in Germany and India.
The VCBT has enabled successful research in commissioning, fault detection, and first responder information and decision support tools.
Standards and Codes: EL staff is participating in the following standards activities that will be directly impacted by this work:
There is a possible future standard method of test for building control system energy performance that may result from this work.
Start Date:October 1, 2011
Lead Organizational Unit:el
Virtual Cybernetic Building Testbed
Related Programs and Projects:
Commissioning Building Systems for Improved Energy Performance
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