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A Test Shell for Developing Automated Commissioning Tools for BACnet Systems



Natascha S. Milesi-Ferretti, Michael A. Galler, Steven T. Bushby


spite advances in building automation technology, many building control systems do not work as intended. Thorough commissioning of control systems can significantly improve operation but it is manually intensive and thus expensive and often neglected. Research in automated commissioning tools and processes has the potential to significantly improve this situation. However, it can be difficult to conduct this research in actual buildings because of the need to maintain comfortable and safe conditions for the building occupants.This report describes an enabling tool designed to advance research efforts to develop and test automated commissioning tools for HVAC systems. The Commissioning Test Shell enables the side-by-side testing and comparison of two or more commissioning tools, as well as the integration of information from multiple tools. The Commissioning Test Shell interacts with building controllers through a BACnet communication interface [1]. It provides an Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) interface for commissioning tools not specifically designed to use the BACnet communication protocol. This permits researchers to develop commissioning tools without the added complexity of communication with the building control system. The Commissioning Test Shell can provide data from the control system to passive commissioning tools. It also supports a scripting capability that can be used by the commissioning tool to actively interact with the control system. The Commissioning Test Shell has been linked to the Virtual Cybernetic Building Testbed (VCBT), which is a whole building emulator that combines simulations of a building and the mechanical system with real state-of-the-art BACnet speaking control systems to provide a hybrid software/hardware testbed.This paper describes the architecture and capabilities of the Commissioning Test Shell. General opportunities to automate the commissioning of air-handling units (AHUs) are discussed. Results from preliminary tests of the Commissioning Test Shell to verify that scripting capabilities and data requirements are met for real-time, active testing of typical air-handling units (AHU) are presented and plans for the future use of the testing tool are described.
National Conference on Building Commissioning


air-handling units, BACnet, building automation and control, commissioning, enabling tools, energy management systems


Milesi-Ferretti, N. , Galler, M. and Bushby, S. (2003), A Test Shell for Developing Automated Commissioning Tools for BACnet Systems, National Conference on Building Commissioning, [online], (Accessed July 21, 2024)


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Created May 20, 2003, Updated February 19, 2017