A BACnet Module for Drupal

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A new project unites technology of two of the world’s leading “open” communities; ASHRAE - in the form of the BACnet [1] open communication protocol and Drupal [2] - in the form of its open source content management system. The coupling of these two technologies and training of the user base can go a long way towards incentivizing efficient energy use patterns at commercial buildings that use BACnet compliant devices to manage such building systems as heating, cooling, dehumidification, utility metering, and ventilation.

The Drupal BACnet project [3] embeds dynamic energy data as energy dashboard type features on Drupal based websites. The features include “real time” displays of dynamic text, dials, graphs and charts. The BACnet module for Drupal [4] greatly simplifies the deployment of “Energy Dashboards” by linking data from BACnet systems directly to Drupal based websites. The BACnet data is displayed as energy dashboard “features” in existing or new websites. The project enables mobile ready websites to easily display relevant energy data thru mobile devices to user communities.  Accurate timely information can increase user engagement to positively impact behavioral change. Behavioral change can in turn be captured as efficiency gains through smart energy use, conservation, and active demand response behavior at commercial facilities worldwide. To facilitate all this, the BACnet module for Drupal is made freely available through the project's web page on drupal.org (d.o).

The BACnet communication protocol is an American national standard (ANSI), a European standard (CEN), a national standard in more than 30 countries, an ISO global standard and is utilized in all building sectors. The BACnet Community consists of hundreds of vendors, and many thousands of users worldwide.

The Drupal CMS is open source, GPL licensed software, which has become the web platform of choice for government and industries worldwide. The Drupal Community, at the time of this writing, is “1,045,856 people in 230 countries speaking 181 languages and has many conferences and user group meeting throughout the year”.

By coupling these two technologies, this project has the potential to impact all building sectors on a worldwide basis. In a partnership between the DC Government and the US Green Building Council National Capital Region chapter, energy dashboards [5] have provided the focal point for public schools in Washington, D.C. to reduce their electrical consumtion in the range of 10-30%.  

The deployment concept for this project is two fold. The BACnet Group – Drupal [6] will form as a user group focused exclusively on the demonstration of energy dashboards and training for a consortium of colleges, universities and industry partners to save money. The website will serve as the primary focal point to coordinate training and education events for both the Drupal and BACnet communities. It is hoped that training events will eventually culminate in annual energy competitions coordinated and advertised among such groups as student chapters of ASHRAE, energy/facility engineering offices, and energy conservation intitiaves for governments worldwide.

The present Drupal and BACnet communities are among the most active, talented and successful community of volunteers impacting the world today. The BACnet Community is part of ASHRAE (founded in 1894, it is a building technology society with more than 54,000 members worldwide). BACnet® International is an organization that encourages the successful use of BACnet in building automation and control systems through interoperability testing, educational programs, and promotional activities. 

This project hopes to leverage forums in both the Drupal Community [7]  and the BACnet Community [8] to conduct workshops and training events for Facility Engineers, Drupal Developers, and student groups. Drupal is used by some of the biggest sites on the Web, like The Economist, Examiner.com and The White House. It has become a worldwide phenomena and is the CMS of choice for many federal agencies [9] and educational institutions [10]BACnet will connect commercial buildings to the Smart Grid. [11] LEED buildings earn points for installing energy dashboards as kiosks and BACnet energy management systems are required by energy efficiency codes all over the world. Market interest in both BACnet and Drupal is substantial.

Ideal project sites exist in every large community in North America and developed nations around the world. Federal buildings especially are targeted as project sites so they can lead by example. Any owner, institution or building that has installed BACnet compliant devices to manage heating, cooling, dehumidification, utility metering, ventilation, and/or any type of renewable energy system is an ideal project site. If the institutions are presently using Drupal and have BACnet systems installed then no additional devices or equipment are required. 

The Drupal BACnet project consortium teaches how-to install, configure, and setup both BACnet and Drupal systems for best results. Everyone (students included!) has free access to Drupal, including the new BACnet module for Drupal. This consortia will demonstrate how community energy competitions between groups on different floors, buildings, or sites can be developed at no cost.

Thanks to Function1 for sponsoring development of this project to facilitate joining together these two brilliant communities and help train an army of students and professionals. 

This project describes a free and secure mechanism to achieve substantial energy savings using existing ‘mobile ready’ technologies! It seeks to equip students and professionals with the tools they need to develop energy competitions within their own domains and achieve substantial savings. Finally, it demonstrates the need for Drupal developers to integrate energy dashboards into great websites. Since the project encorages deployment of Drupal as an Energy Conservation Measure (ECM), market uptake can be rapid and further transformation of the energy management industry.

References:

1. "BACnet" is the ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 135-2012 “BACnet – A Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks”. https://www.ashrae.org/resources--publications/bookstore/standard-135

2. "Drupal" is the open source content management platform powering millions of websites and applications. It’s built, used, and supported by an active and diverse community of people around the world. http://www.drupal.org 

3. The "Drupal BACnet project" is BACnet Vendor ID 751.  It is the work being done by members of the Drupal community to develop Energy as a vertical market for Drupal using BACnet.  http://www.bacnet.org/VendorID/BACnet%20Vendor%20IDs.htm

4.  The "BACnet Module for Drupal" is an energy management tool, allowing easy real-time monitoring of energy related data across a team within an intranet or other Drupal website. https://www.drupal.org/project/bacnet

5. "Energy Dashboards" are a focal point of electricity conservation contests run by the Department of General Services (see http://www.dcgreenschoolschallenge.com and http://dgs.dc.gov/release/langley-es-wins-dc-green-schools-challenge).

6. The "BACnet Group - Drupal" is a non-profit organization (in development) to promote the use of Drupal as an energy conservation measure.  http://www.bg-drupal.org

7.  The Drupal Community -  is well developed but diverse.  It is best defined by considering the question "Where is the Drupal Community?". https://www.drupal.org/community

8.  The BACnet Community is comprised of members of ASHRAE (https://www.ashrae.org), the BACnet Committee (www.bacnet.org), and BACnet International (www.bacnetinternational.org).

9.  Federal Agencies that use Drupal --> www.doe.govwww.house.govwww.dhs.gov, etc.

10. Educational Institutions that use Drupal --> www.colorado.edu, www.cu.edu, www.harvard.edu, www.psu.edu, etc.

11. BACnet and the Smart Grid -->  http://www.bacnet.org/Bibliography/BACnet-Today-09/Bushby_2009.pdf

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