|Quantum: The Digital Twin Standard for Buildings
Quantum is the industry’s
first true ontology: an existential definition of properties,
behaviors, intent, and interactions between building objects.
Quantum is a new digital twin standard for buildings, developed through
a partnership between PassiveLogic, the U.S. Department of Energy, and
industry partners. Quantum is the industry’s first true ontology: an
existential definition of properties, behaviors, intent, and
interactions between building objects.
digital twins are a requirement for autonomous building systems,
self-assembling data, unified building APIs, and smart city energy
networks — filling a huge gap in the market that has until now been
largely focused on the retrospective effort of tagging and topology
semantics, or creating BIM-like digital twin middleware. The Quantum
standard provides a complete building definition, allowing the
description of everything in and around buildings including thermal
zone connectivity, proxemics, systems, equipment and IoT component
models, IT and data network structures, weather models, and occupant
models. It can also embed the data time series for these features, for
both histories and predictive futures.
Why a New Standard?
do we need a new standard? Previous standards have focused on
communicating point labeling, or the post-hoc descriptions of equipment
linkages. While standards like Haystack provide tagging, Brick adds
taxonomy, and ASHRAE 223p is a formalization of the former concepts —
these primarily define human-to-machine communication, but have limited
utility in machine-to-machine and machine-to-self contexts. As such
they are primarily what we'd call semantic standards.
proposed digital twin prototypes have had many of the same limitations.
Typically designed to be generalizations of BIM semantics or
generalized semantics for data pools, they are still limited by their
low descriptive power.
study of semantics is primarily concerned with labeling or defining the
formal names of things. But it does not answer the questions: “Who am
I?” or “What do I do?” These questions are the province of ontologies,
not semantics. An ontology describes the fundamental nature of being,
while semantics deal in descriptive labeling. And while an ontology can
certainly be serialized into a semantic, a semantic doesn’t have the
framework for expressing an ontology — and exists at the wrong layer in
the stack to retroactively bolt one on. Yet, evolving market needs and
technological advances require more descriptive power and use cases
that emerge from machine-to-self capability.
is concerned with “What it is”, whereas semantic tagging is "How to say
it” in a protocol or disk format. For example a “chair" is merely
tagged as “chair” in English, but carries no inherent meaning. It
fundamentally is not a chair, but a gravity resistor that keeps your
butt from hitting the ground (gravi-keister-limitor). You can translate
the fundamental nature of a “gravi-keister-limitor” into many languages
and protocols, but its existential purpose never changes. More
compellingly, by defining object existentials using their underlying
physics (RForce = Gravity x Massbutt)
we can compute meaningful purpose in context to its application or
control. After all, physics is the most Meta standard for defining
“What”, “How”, and “Why”. So while semantics and existentials are both
useful components of digital twins, it is important to understand the
difference as we set the course for the next generation of control and
the emergence of autonomous building systems.
Actors, Quanta, and Behaviors… Oh My!
the context of building digital twins, Quantum represents a fully
descriptive language for systems, buildings, and the interconnections
between them. It inherits its name from quantum physics, the study of
matter and energy at its most fundamental level. Similarly, Quantum
Digital Twins describe buildings, automation, and IoT using the
fundamental language of physics.
Quantum, the defining physics is classified into meaningful containers.
These containers are easily expressed as small components of purpose.
And unlike the environments of EnergyPlus or Modelica, where physics is
an unstructured bag-of-math, here physics is definitional, composed,
and purposeful. It defines the notion of what something is, how it does
what it does, and the roles and behaviors of building components within
introduces new concepts of actor types, quanta (the currency of
interchange), behaviors, computed properties, and observed properties.
In its entirety a Quantum Digital Twin is an object’s description,
computable AI with introspectable properties, and a transmittable
format. These concepts are crucial in defining autonomous systems,
generalized model based control, and self-describing equipment that
communicates and is acted upon in real time.
Quantum can be used as a complete stand-alone standard, it is also
designed for backwards compatibility. Through a process called semantic
lowering, it can consume tagging standards like Haystack, or protocol
application layer standards like BACnet, KNX, or Zigbee. Similarly it
can import or export Brick, EnergyPlus, GBXML, and IFC formats. Each of
these are lossy exports, covering only a fraction of the descriptive
power of Quantum — but it provides bridging and tooling for other
standards where PassiveLogic’s Autonomy Studio software can serve as a
Why Quantum Matters
is not just an automation data standard, it enables a paradigm shift in
our approach to buildings. It provides a continuous digital asset from
architecture through implementation and into maintenance — enabling an
integrated workflow for the automation market, including hand-offs from
engineers to field technicians. Quantum provides deep context for
building data, and automatically structures this data into information,
generates inferences, and enables autonomous controls to make
actionable decisions at the edge.
contextualizes meaning and intent before a project even hits the
ground, and maintains that information structure, data fusion, and data
graphs throughout its life-cycle. This diverges from the market
approach where you stream low-value data, add post-hoc labeling, and
hope through data mining to eventually strike gold and find value.
Making Life Simple
most importantly, Quantum simplifies project workflow. Because digital
twins are expressible in tangible visual terms, they are amenable to
graphical UIs and generative CAD tools.
PassiveLogic we’ve built the first integrated development environment
(IDE), Autonomy Studio, around the Quantum standard. Autonomy Studio’s
design process replaces the traditional CAD workflow that merely
generates paper plans. Using digital twin components it instead
generates the controls schema from the system drawings, validates the
design against the physics, generates the controls system topology,
commissions the building, and automatically classifies the analytics,
all while preserving the building’s designed intent. No integration or
bridging effort required.
are the largest controlled infrastructure in the world economy, yet our
automation systems are still not equipped with the full picture of what
they are supposed to control. Quantum Digital Twins can address this
gap by providing the automation platform with a complete picture of the
system that can self-introspect, and solve for the ideal optimization
control path in real-time.
Quantum opens up significantly improved building operation that includes greater energy
pinpoint occupant comfort, continuous automated commissioning,
predictive maintenance and alerts, and longer lasting equipment. In
addition, our industry involves many stakeholders on every project, and
this standard allows stronger communication and the preservation of
design intent throughout the life-cycle, preventing information loss.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this series where we’ll discuss how Quantum IS the AI. Part 3 will go into Autonomy Studio in detail.
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