When you think of smart buildings, BACnet may not be the first thing that comes to mind. As buildings and technology evolve, interoperability (i.e. the ability to play well with others) is essential in enabling new solutions to join existing building ecosystems and expanding smart building capabilities. As the standard communications protocol, BACnet allows building systems and solutions of all ages to stay on the same page; it may quite literally be keeping the lights on in your office. If you want to play in the future of smart buildings, you better speak BACnet.
BACnet: Building Automation and Control Network
A LITTLE MORE
One more time, what is BACnet?
BACnet is a framework and set of standard operations for systems in the building space to communicate with one another. BACnet is used across building automation systems—both hardware and software, made by various vendors—including HVAC equipment, lighting control, security, and others. Think: Smart building playground rules for multiple applications and networks (regardless of system type, maker, or age).
Why was it developed?
SO WHAT DOES BACNET COVER?
Device Interoperability Components:
Do all buildings use BACnet?
No, but there are workarounds. There are still a number of vendor-specific building control protocols, which was the impetus for the creation of BACnet. Some buildings are “Native BACnet,” meaning the BACnet messages, services, and data model trickle throughout the building control system. Most current generations of buildings control equipment are BACnet compatible (i.e. Honeywell, JCI, Siemens, Schneider). There are some systems that don’t speak BACnet natively, such as LonTalk based systems, but in those cases BACnet gateways (think: intermediate/translator boxes) can be used to translate from legacy protocols (non-BACnet) to BACnet, and back again.
Is this concept unique to commercial buildings?
Communication protocols, like BACnet, are found across other industries and communication channels. For example, protocols exist for email, calendaring, and telecommunications. However, unlike other industry protocols, BACnet specifies the entire stack (all levels) of the device communication architecture. Meaning it provides structure and guidance on building system communications, from soup to nuts.
What does BACnet mean for the future of smart buildings?
Buildings have wires in the walls, ducts in the ceilings, and BACnet guiding the systems. As buildings evolve, BACnet allows new technologies and solutions to layer onto the existing building infrastructure, while maintaining central control (and sanity) for building operators. As new technologies and systems are introduced to improve the building experience for the people that work in them, BACnet will be the common denominator for plugging into buildings’ ecosystems.