February 2006

BTL Mark: Resolve interoperability issues & increase buyer confidence
BACnet Testing Laboratories

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Ben H. Dorsey III

EMAIL INTERVIEW - Ben H. Dorsey III & Ken Sinclair

Ben H. Dorsey III, VP of Communications KMC Controls, Inc
and newly-elected Marketing Committee Chair for BACnet International


BACnet International

The New Face of BACnet

We will be a resource to the greater body of BACnet users, product providers, service providers, and building professionals.

New Products
Past Issues

Control Solutions, Inc

Sinclair:  I saw a new look for the BACnet Community at the recent AHR Expo. Can you explain what organizational changes have occurred?

Dorsey:  Just before the opening of the show, members of two former organizations voted to consolidate and rename their collective assembly. BACnet International was born. The two organizations had been known as the BACnet Manufacturers Association (BMA) and the BACnet Interest Group of North America (BIG-NA). The former boards of these organizations have now been combined into a single and smaller board that will reflect the diversity of membership and the agility and responsiveness that will permeate the new organization.

Sinclair:  What brought about the change?

Dorsey:  Some time ago we began to see the limitations of our two organizations, especially in regards to reaching a greater audience of those interested in the implementation of BACnet. The BMA, as its name suggests, was limited to those providing products or services to the industry. And the BIG-NA simply lacked the resources to effectively communicate to the entire community of users. So, we began discussions many months ago to redefine our joint interests and goals. At the BACnet Conference and Expo, held last October, we put the matter before members of both groups as a proposed plan and sought further input. Obviously, there were necessary legal steps and some agreements that had to be reached. Then, on January 22, we voted to formalize the decision.

Sinclair:  What do you hope to achieve as BACnet International?

Dorsey:  We will be a resource to the greater body of BACnet users, product providers, service providers, and building professionals. The new organization will begin to take on the diversity of all interested parties. Education and training will become a major focus. And, because our membership is now open to a greater audience, we expect to grow as well.

Sinclair:  Who is now eligible for membership?

Dorsey:  In actuality, a scalable and flexible membership structure attracts all interested parties. There are different levels of membership for manufacturers and service providers, for example. We also anticipate that some building owners, facility managers, and consulting engineers will see the benefits of membership and join our ranks. We’ve even created a membership for BACnet sites, facilities whose owners wish to receive recognition for the integration or interoperability showcased therein.

Sinclair:  You mentioned education. Can you explain further?

Dorsey:  The educational resource we will provide will vary by the intended audience. At the recent AHR Expo, for example, many wandered into the BACnet International booth simply wanting to learn more about what BACnet is and what it could do for them. Then, there are those seeking product information, or news about the work of the ASHRAE Standing Standard Process Committee (SSPC-135) which maintains the standard. We’ll provide the necessary resources for all such audiences.

Reliable Controls Sinclair:  I’m glad you mentioned the BACnet International booth at the AHR show. I was extremely impressed by the cooperation I sensed there. How was it achieved?

Dorsey:  I’m glad you noticed. Our booth included kiosks for 12 different member companies of the new organization. Quite frankly, we would have had more had the space not limited us. In any event, as you intimated, many of us who were there are direct competitors. Yet, we have become united by a common purpose: to advance the implementation of BACnet. To the extent we do so, all of us will benefit. By the same token, I have been impressed by the level of cooperation I’ve experienced on the marketing committee of the former BMA over the last two years in which I’ve been involved.

Sinclair:  Will there be any changes to the product certifications previously administered by the BTL (BACnet Testing Laboratories)?

Dorsey:  Yes and no. The BTL will continue to represent the mark of quality in BACnet products. And, the BTL will continue to provide rigorous testing for all BACnet device profiles in terms of compliance to the standard and interoperability. What is changing is that the BTL will be governed by BACnet International. In fact, a new test facility partnership is now being established and should be operational in the second quarter of this year.

Sinclair:  Any early indications of how the new BACnet organization is being received?

Dorsey:  Well, if response at the AHR Expo was any indicator, we’ll have bright and busy future. The BACnet International booth was constantly busy. Attendees had lots of questions—some intended for specific vendors and others more general in nature. We secured contact information for about 150 individuals and handed out dozens of applications for membership. What seems clear to me is that the interest in BACnet continues to escalate and that all parties have been seeking a definitive resource for BACnet information. BACnet International is now that resource.

Editor’s note:
A new web site is in development for BACnet International (www.bacnetinternational.org). In the meantime, those interested in further information can call or email the organization (312.540.1200; info@bacnetinternational.org).


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