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Embedded Intelligence in Buildings Program


The objective of the Embedded Intelligence in Buildings Program is to develop and deploy advances in measurement science that will improve building operations to achieve energy efficiency, occupant comfort, and safety through the use of intelligent building systems.


Congress has established a national goal of achieving net-zero energy buildings by 2030. Approximately 84% of the life cycle energy use of a building is associated with operating the building rather than the materials and energy used for construction. This program will provide the measurement science to realize energy efficient building operation through integrated cybernetic building systems with distributed, embedded intelligence that can optimize building system performance, detect and respond to faults and operational errors, and enable integration of building systems with smart grid technologies.

This program is closely aligned with the Engineering Laboratory (EL) mission to promote U.S. innovation and competitiveness by anticipating and meeting the measurement science, standards, and technology needs of the U.S. building industry. It builds on the EL core competencies of Energy Efficient and Intelligent Operation of Buildings with Healthy Indoor Environments, and Intelligent Sensing, Control Processes, and Automation for Cyber-Physical Systems. It also aligns with our strategic goal of Sustainable and Energy-Efficient Manufacturing, Materials, and Infrastructure.  

Because a mismatch exists between who invests (manufacturers) and who benefits (public and other end users), public sector involvement is necessary to overcome the initial barrier of developing the measurement science. EL is in a position to leverage its strong ties to industry stakeholders, academia, and standards organizations. EL has the needed technical expertise and an international reputation for excellence in the technical areas relevant to cybernetic building systems as a result of over two decades of technical work and collaboration. EL staff has leadership positions on the key U.S. and international committees that will make use of the program results.

Major Accomplishments:

Some recent accomplishments of the Embedded Intelligence in Buildings Program include:

  • Adoption of the BACnet standard, based on NIST measurement science work, by CEN, ISO, and over 30 countries.
  • Implementation of BACnet by over 600 companies including every major HVAC control system manufacturer as the protocol of choice for integrated building automation systems.
  • Industry adoption and use of ASTM building economic standards, based on NIST measurement science work, for improved decision-making.
  • More than 10 million consumers have been given access to their utility usage information through the Green Button program and utilities have made commitments that will increase the number to 31 million.
  • Fault detection tools for variable air volume (VAV) air handlers and VAV box controls. These tools demonstrated the feasibility of embedding fault detection capability in typical building control products.
  • Disseminated state of the art review on commissioning, including cost benefit, persistence, automated commissioning tools, and needs for zero-energy buildings.
  • Establishment of an ISO Maintenance Agency to fast track changes to BACnet and its companion testing standard in the CEN and ISO standards process. This enables rapid worldwide adoption of changes made to the American BACnet standard.
  • Published OASIS Energy Market Information Exchange standard. This standard, developed with NIST technical input, specifies an information model to support exchange of prices and product definitions in energy markets.
  • Adoption of an Annex F to NFPA 72 covering NEMA SB 30 fire service annunciator displays. This standard provides a uniform interface to aid emergency responders during an incident.