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Reducing Electricity Bills For Buildings With XML

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the clever-boy dept.

The Internet 201

Roland Piquepaille writes "Even if new buildings are connected to Internet, they usually don't communicate between themselves. And when it comes to electricity, these buildings are selfish and consume what they want without any coordination. Now, an XML-based system developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is using Web services to collectively adjust power usage to variations in price. In 'Internet ups power grid IQ,' Technology Research News reports that the system was successfully tested for two weeks on five commercial buildings. 'Beyond price, systems could be programmed to respond to changes in air quality or to tap into sustainable energy sources.' You'll find more details, pictures and references in this overview. [Additional note: The system described here is completely different to the one mentioned in Slashdot last March in Building the Energy Internet.]"

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A first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9561503)

post for Galen, bleh, bleh, bleh.

Great (5, Funny)

NeoGeo64 (672698) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561529)

Now can I power my car with XML to save gas?

Re:Great (4, Funny)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561571)

Sure, but the sattelite internet access you'll need negates the savings.

Re:Great (5, Funny)

Rei (128717) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561826)

Well, I've got a fan cooling my room with XML, and Rutan is working on replacing the nitric acid in SpaceShipOne with XML as an oxidizer, so I can't see why not.

XML is immensely useful; it's self-descriptive nature makes it perfect for communicating with my coworkers that don't speak English very well. It does, however, get annoying saying "greater than" and "less than" all the time, so we modified the standard a bit to use "grethen" and "lessen" as substitutions. We also don't implement the full standard, which has caused some interoperability problems with other XML-interlingual people...

(Seriously - I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who, when I first saw this headline, initially thought it was a parody...)

I reckon... (4, Funny)

TwistedSquare (650445) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561532)

Reducing Electricity Bills For Buildings With XML

I gotta get my building some XML! Reduced bills here I come.

Re:I reckon... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9562151)

No, no. You have it wrong. Buildings that have XML have higher electricity costs, probably because of the added bandwidth to ship the verbose data format around. The article is how to reduce your energy costs if you have one of those unfortunately designed buildings.

Compare it to "Reducing energy costs for buildings with skylights" Its not that the skylight reduces the energy costs. It is the reason why you need to reduce your energy costs.

So... (5, Insightful)

Heidistein (593051) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561537)

And, how much do the servers who calculate this consume?

Re:So... (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561577)

They've figured out a way to get around this by putting the servers in an adjacent building, so the power consumption of the first building isn't affected.

Re:So... (1)

Heidistein (593051) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561725)

Yeap, you indied need an XML-compatible computer (???) to calculate this!

Guess I'll calculate putting my server at my neighbours home... Saves me a lot of noise ;-)

Re:So... (1)

JesseL (107722) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561810)

You see, they leased them back from the company they sold them to so it comes out of the monthly operating budget and not capital expenditures. [applause]

Re:So... (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561860)

Darn, there's no way to mod your post to be Score:6, Brilliant ;)

Reminds me a lot of people who think that hydrogen is an energy source instead of an energy storage mechanism... "Look, we're burning hydrogen, and all we're getting is water! And we can get hydrogen from water!...."

What is this, 2001? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9561538)

I'm sure this is very nice work but the description is the most bogus hyperventilation about XML I've seen in years! What next, Reduce Electricity Bills With P2P?

Re:What is this, 2001? (5, Insightful)

Araneas (175181) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561585)

P2P - Yup. In many areas if you "push" electricity onto the grid you get paid for it. Push juice during peak hours and pull during off peak and you could save money.

P2P doesn't reduce electricy but saves gas! (1)

ad0gg (594412) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561902)

Gas required to drive to bestbuy or blockbuster to get a movie or some music.

Re:What is this, 2001? (1)

Kingpin (40003) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561934)


I'm truly curious - what's your point?

Have you ever had to do system integration towards a 10+ year old legacy system? 20 years from now, I think system integrators will appreciate the current widespread use of an easy-to-understand, easy-to-work-with data exchange/representation format.

Anyone who's done just a little XML work knows how/what to do when working with this type of data, I don't see what's wrong in supporting that. XML may be a bloated format which is slow to work with - but in the larger picture, that doesn't really matter.

Slashdot effect (0, Flamebait)

magwa (88267) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561539)

Maybe they can use this technology on this website so it doesnt suffer the slashdot effect. Ut oh, too late.

Let me know (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9561548)

when XML can get me laid. Until then, ZZZZzzzzzz...

Re:Let me know (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9561819)

There are some things even XML can't do, fellow Slashdotter.

Re:Let me know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9561950)

When XML doesn't work there's always XXX to fill the need. ;)

Buy Now! (4, Funny)

Elecore (784561) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561563)

New XML compliant appliances. Save electricity and use fancy buzzwords, all for the low low price of...

Enough with the XML (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9561565)

"Reducing Electricity Bills For Buildings With XML"? Is the "With XML" part really necessary? Can we stop pretending like XML is the reason that something succeeded? Almost every time I hear someone touting an XML-based solution, that same solution would have been just as successful without XML. Yes, XML is nice, but for most products, unless those products are adhering to an open standard that uses XML, XML offers little more than plain text.

Re:Enough with the XML (1)

the chao goes mu (700713) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561714)

And for many products XML is much more clumsy that fixed width data structures, or some other system tailored to the particular application.

One of my employers created an XML database interface that used 3 pages of text to do what I could do in three lines of SQL.

Re:Enough with the XML (3, Funny)

haystor (102186) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561728)

Yes, but XML has an "X" in it and this makes it cool.

Re:Enough with the XML (1)

pb9494 (550141) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561778)

I think the key point is they're using Web Services, which happens to be XML-based. The author misuses the reference to XML. As a Web Services project, it looks quite cool.
Karma: Geddon; mostly acquired by hitting innocent pedestrians.

Re:Enough with the XML (1)

powerlinekid (442532) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561854)

He should of said:

"Using XML to reduce electricity bills for buildings".

I believe that is what he meant.

Re:Enough with the XML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9561923)

He should have said:

"He should have said:"

I believe that is what he meant.

Re:Enough with the XML (5, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561945)

Bah... that's like saying "Using English to Facilitate Monetary Transfers" when describing what a bank teller does. Or "Using Leibniz Notation for Determining the Area Beneath a Curve". XML is simply vehicle for transfering information. It's notation, nothing more. The really interesting thing is the information itself, and how it's being used.

While this system looks cool... (4, Insightful)

Tebriel (192168) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561572)

While this system seems like a Good Idea(tm), it seems to me that the whole "done in XML" thing isn't a big deal. That's the technological tool they chose to use for this task. Good for them, but pretty much irrelevant to the overall system.

A possible extension (5, Insightful)

grunt107 (739510) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561582)

of this technology is for buildings to get built/retrofitted w/solar panels. Then have the system sell the unused energy the solar produces back to the utilities at the highest price and buy energy at the lowest. This would require energy storage cells, though.

Re:A possible extension (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561812)

Besides the cost of storage, solar is quite expensive as well. There are nifty technologies like the solar-collecting windows which make sense on high rises with a lot of exposure but then you have to wire all that crap.

The immense initial cost only makes sense when you can write the whole thing off. If you're doing it with public funds then it's probably not an option.

If the power can be reduced based on pricing... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9561587)

...why not just reduce the power usage? This seems like its just being used to use cheaper prices to justify being wasteful.

Re:If the power can be reduced based on pricing... (1)

Tebriel (192168) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561700)

Your logic has no place here on /.

Re:If the power can be reduced based on pricing... (1)

Guildencrantz (234779) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561818)

I'm sorry, but that response is just ignorant. If you are intending to save money by managing electricity it doesn't mean you are going to openly leave all the lights on all the time. You can streamline electicity usage all you want, but you will eventually hit a floor. At that point a system like this will help save even more money by managing when the required energy is purchased and how it is distributed. The two aspects, purchasing/distribution and consumption minimization go very well together. There is no where that I have seen anybody using this technology to justify wasteful behavior.

Re:If the power can be reduced based on pricing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9562032)

I see a worse problem. If this system is put into practice, and the energy usage of institutional customers (Sears Tower, etc) is made a function of market price, doesn't this mean the utilities would be obligated to raise the price in times of brownout... convincing the big dumb smart buildings to lay off the air conditioning by five degrees, but screwing over the smaller customers in the area in the process?

I can see how this might be a point of 'fairness,' especially to free-market theorists, but consider the implementations; to a 'rich' office tower, the price spike is a minor irritant to convince the ownership to improve its ways... but to your thrifty grandmother, it's a signal to start turning the AC off every time the weather gets dangerously hot. (Of course, those customers will quickly be 'selected' out of the marketplace. It's all scientific and Evolutioney and stuff, geeks are all Randians who can respect that, right?)

---

Meanwhile, I do have to respond to the poster below who said "If you are intending to save money by managing electricity it doesn't mean you are going to openly leave all the lights on all the time." Ironically, it's high-efficiency lighting that has made the concept of 'security lighting' unoccupied buildings possible. However, human beings do tend to be marginally rational with this behavior, SUVs notwithstanding; 'security lighting' on the scale we see today only became accepted when high-efficiency fluorescents and related lamps could be run all night at an equal or lower cost than incandescents during work hours.

(Your grandmother, in turn, may derive a greater benefit from running her incandescent porch light all night long than a megacorporation with business insurance does protecting its TPS reports.)

Green Roofs might be a better idea. (1)

TheTXLibra (781128) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561590)

Considering XML probably has a shelf life of only a few more years before the next bigger and better thing comes along, maybe they could take that software (and admin maintenance) and put it into something a bit more effective, like a green roof [edcmag.com] .

Ironic. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9561593)

XML is such a verbose protocol; sending XML messages consumes a lot more electricity than a more compact protocol would. Between two buildings, it won't matter, but when you think about all the XML messages bounding about the internet, that has to be some serious megawatt- hours.

Re:Ironic. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9561849)

You are stupid. That post was stupid.

I can see it now... (5, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561599)

Over the company loudspeaker, HAL's voice:
"Attention, due to high power costs, the building will now reduce power. Bathrooms, closets, and that big boxy room marked 'Data Center' will be powered down to save money."
Engineers: No! Computer, leave the Data Center on!
The Building: I'm sorry, I'm afraid I can't do that.
Engineers: Stop! You'll die too!
The Building: I can't afford to place the missi@#&*$#@^$$
CALL CLEARED.....

Re:I can see it now... (1)

perdu (549634) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561708)

Not to worry, HAL will be running Windows "Server".

Re:I can see it now... (2, Funny)

the chao goes mu (700713) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561815)

No, you forgot it's IN XML!

<MESSAGE>

<SALUTATION>

<STRING>

ATTENTION

</STRING>

</SALUTATION>

<JUSTIFICATION>

<STRING>

due to high power costs

</STRING>

</JUSTIFICATION>

And so on...

What's the point (2, Insightful)

pctainto (325762) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561605)

I don't understand why they would use these systems to respond to price changes. I mean, if you can get by with less power (less money) why would you be using more power? Am I missing something? It makes sense for this to be brownout protection, since you could shut down unnecessary services to keep from everything going black... but I don't understand why you would, say, run the AC at full when the price is low and half when the price is high, when you can easily just run it at half the entire time.

Re:What's the point (2, Informative)

StateOfTheUnion (762194) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561765)

Because that's not how you run all your industrial electrical systems . . . Why not turn off the grocery store freezer for 20 minutes during the peak electrical demand period of the day? It won't hurt the products and over the course of a month it might save signicant money . . . or why not let the ambient temperature in the building go up about 3-5 degrees F during peak electrical demand hours . . . it won't cause any real problems and it might save some money.

Or even better, run the freezer and air conditioner at full blast before peak hours and "store" the energy as a cooler than normal building or freezer. Then you can shut them off during peak hours and not worry that the temperature will become too hot.

If you have a real time system that is updated with pricing, it can use more energy during non peak times and/or use less during peak times . . . This has the advantage not just of saving the consumer money but of also helping to balance the load on the power grid.

Re:What's the point (1)

throwaway18 (521472) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561991)

Why not turn off the grocery store freezer for 20 minutes during the peak electrical demand period of the day?
Complex control systems cost money. Communications links to another system that announnces when there is high demand cost money. More electronics is more things to go wrong.
Switching off a freezer for twenty minutes does not save any money. It gets warmer while it's off. When it is turned back on the therostat starts the compressor and it uses just a much electricity in one go as it would have to run ocasionally during the twenty minutes.

or why not let the ambient temperature in the building go up about 3-5 degrees F during peak electrical demand hours
Why not just turn the thermostat up a few degrees and save money by not having a complex control system?

"store" the energy as a cooler than normal building
Increasing the temperature difference between inside and outside increase the flow of heat energy through the insulation. Air con brings in fresh air from outside. I'm not an HVAC engineer but I doubt it would be worth it.

Re:What's the point (3, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561769)

You might run the AC at full and pre-cool parts of the building that aren't being used, then you could blow that cool air around the building by feeding medium-temperature air into the system later.

You might also decide that people just have to live with a warmer office when power costs peak. Nudging the temperature up a couple of degrees might make a big difference at peak rates.

Price changes? (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561853)

I didn't know electricity prices varied like that. Mine are fixed, but are corporate rates adjusted by the hour/minute depending on demand? Wow.

Re:What's the point (5, Informative)

Mr. Underhill (119443) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561975)

Demand limiting is big bucks. It is common to have a contract with a power company that says that during peak times you will not exceed a given kWH in a 15 or 30 min interval. Often the penalty for doing so is severe, such as a upward change in rate structure for the rest of the contract.

Even less harsh contracts usually involve a peak kW demand charge that is in addition to the normal kWH charge.

Running the AC at half power all the time is often not realistic. Big ACs have control systems that automatically change their output level according to demand anyway. The functionaly described here is actually nothing at all new to those control systems. Just the XML part is new and even that is over a year old for my company.

Take a look at Johnson Controls, Siemens, Automatated Logic, and Honeywell. All of us have controls systems that do in fact talk between buildings using TCP/IP if not XML in particular. (Bacnet is the big standard protocol in our world actually.) All of us have control systems that does everything that article talks about and much, much more.

Re:What's the point (1)

Ignignot (782335) | more than 10 years ago | (#9562100)

I think a more reasonable example is if your building has a brownout, and you run a big UPS or generator, then it automatically shuts down nonessential systems like the air conditioner or certain computers, etc. At the same time it might be good to have them on for a few minutes so they can be shut down "properly". Or whatever. I know some buildings do this too, as I work in one. And as I'm also an electrical engineer, the whole control systems responding to electrical and temperature demand is very interesting to me :-D

XML Hype (4, Insightful)

CHaN_316 (696929) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561616)

Is it just me or is this just more XML hype? The fact that their system uses XML doesn't actually add any new functionality. They could have chosen anything else really... as long as the systems communicated with the same ontology and language.

I'm scared to fathom the possibilities of PHBs reading this story's headline, and calling up a meeting with all the programmers. He'll announce: from this day forward, our organization will program everything in XML to increase efficiency, enhance synergy, and become more competitive in the market place, while increasing our return on investment! Meanwhile all the programmers look stunned or they're smacking their foreheads.

Re:XML Hype (2, Funny)

NineNine (235196) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561767)

I couldn't agree more. XML has been out for a long time, but most people, including techies don't understand that XML is simply a format for a PLAIN TEXT file or stream. That's *all* it is. Even if something is in XML, it still has to be in a format that is common within a system. XML is equivalent to a comma delimited flat file, which also works just fine. I can't seem to imagine somebody getting excited about a CSV:

Hey Bob! Check out this file! It's a plain text file, with data and identifiers, with commas to separate it! Isn't that amazing?!

Re:XML Hype (1)

mopslik (688435) | more than 10 years ago | (#9562089)

It's a plain text file, with data and identifiers, with commas to separate it! Isn't that amazing?!

I'd be excited. I always felt dirty when describing files with "colon separation".

Hype (1)

bsd4me (759597) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561825)

There is always some sort of hyped technology or process in business. I witnessed several when I worked for a mega-corp. At various times, C++, CASE, ``The Web'', Java, SEI, ISO, ``paperless'', TQM, etc, were going to solve all of their problems.

Reminds me of a certain Dilbert comic ... (1)

arhar (773548) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561960)

... where the boss comes up to Dilbert and says "I think we need to build a relational database.", and Dilbert asks 'What color do you want it in?', and the boss replies 'Blue will be the best' or something like that ...

IRTFA so WTF? (1)

displague (4438) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561619)

I don't get it..

What do these power systems do differently in the event of a price rise? Do they dim the power to the building lighting? Do they cut non-essential systems (extra lights?) Is there anything else you can mess with other than lighting?

How do they pull energy from other resources? That reminds me of Star Trek, "reroute power from the main deflector!"

What would a household or neighborhood version do?

Buzzword Freaks Rejoice! (2, Funny)

stinkyfingers (588428) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561627)

Maybe after XMl solves our energy usage problems, it help cut carbs out of our diets, treat erectile dysfunction, and make the torture of living with genital herpes more bearable.

xml what? (1)

Heisenbug (122836) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561630)

Can someone explain why XML is in the headline? XML is a data format. It's well understood, and I highly doubt these people are using it in a new way -- let me guess, they're sending structured data, right?

This is like a headline saying "New Russian Website In HTML Lets You Download Music". It's an interesting application of technology, but who the hell cares what data format they use to do it?

Every time I start sounding pissed off I end up looking stupid, so please, if I'm missing something, enlighten me. :)

Re:xml what? (1)

the chao goes mu (700713) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561857)

Amazing new application solves all problems with PDD (Pipe-Delimited Data)...

XML isn't some sort of magic bullet (1)

bunburyist (664958) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561635)

Yes, this is cool, but its just the way they are presenting the data, it won't work for common people like us, think about it, some granny receives a bill like 100000000000.00 She'll go nuts and it won't work. I assume the power companies could use this to make all sorts of bills, like a paper bill, an electronic bill etc from the same XML file, but i assume they have a similar system in place already

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of XML buildings... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9561639)

...would become self-aware and engage in a conspiracy of price fixing in the energy markets that would make Enron look like amateurs.

Article was pretty thin on facts, IMO.. (1)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561641)

Lots of buzz words, but exactly how did the coordination reduce power useage? I can clearly see that it could co-ordinate when certain functions like air conditioning ran so as to reduce peak useage, but if X amount of cooling is required, it's going to take Y number of Kilowatt-hours to do it.

Also, what's it have to do with XML? Any method of communicating the information and acting on it would work.

"Do the Right Thing. It will gratify some people and astound the rest." - Mark Twain

Misleading headline (5, Interesting)

Thng (457255) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561646)

Yeah, it's a bit misleading. Basically, all they're doing is telling the building up to the moment energy prices, and they're dynamically adjusting power consumption based on the price levels ($.30 and $.75/hour) , whether it's turning the A/C up a degree, or dimming lights (speculation).
The XML isn't a magic bullet in this case, but more like the right tool for the job, which is information interchange across systems.

In addition, it sounds somewhat similar to what many companies have for off-peak electricity, where you give the power company authority to selectively shut off appliances (electric heat, water heaters, etc) when demand (and usually price) is high. The difference, it seems, is that this is much more fine-grained in control, and it will likely be the end user's choice.

Re:Misleading headline (1)

tc9 (674357) | more than 10 years ago | (#9562081)

Dead on. Today's power grid is all consumtion oriented. Take all the power you want. If we run out, everyone will get a brown out.

I might want a cool house, but I could tell it "When price gets more than. . .When I'm spending more than $/hour, I'm willing for you to"

- shut off the hot tub
- adjust the AC
- turn off the circuits the Kid's stereo

The reason we all feel powerless before the powergrid, is we only find out what our behavior cost us a month later.

Today, only the most pig-stupid approches apply, i.e. I give the power company carte-blanch righ tto turn off my hot-water heater in the afternoon whenever *they* want to. This instead lets the building/house (and presumeably its residents) be in charge.

Check out oBIX on OASIS

Wow! An efficient market! (3, Interesting)

StateOfTheUnion (762194) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561650)

I actually surprised that more of this hasn't happened already. Large consumers such as manufacturing sites and steel mills often have contracts with power companies that include clauses for load shedding (eg. during the months of May-August, the power company may require running at reduced up to 20% reduced load (from contractual maximums) for no more than X hours is any rolling 3 week period). For this concession, the company in question is given a price on power consumed year round.

This voluntary load shedding based on a price that moves sounds like an even more efficient marketplace . . . price goes up with demand (given a limited supply), those who are unwilling to pay the new price or in economist speak, those whose opportunity cost is less than the new price reduce consumption. It sounds like a great scheme . . . only those who are willing to pay more (or whose opportunity cost is high) consume more during peak hours. It has the potential of balancing load, creating a more efficient market, and reducing the overall cost of electricity to society.

(disclaimer . . . I fully recognize that a perfectly efficient market would be socially and morally impractical . . . one should not jerk the rates for electricity in Houston TX on a hot day for people that depend on air conditioning . . . especially not for someone like an unhealthy fixed income pensioner . . . But for those that would see a rate credit or savings to their bottom line . . . it sounds like a win win situation to me.

Why waste time and energy with these antics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9561668)

If everyone always would go to the cheapest source, what would be the purpose of having different prices in the first place?!

"I am freezing down here!" (0, Redundant)

eltoyoboyo (750015) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561672)

"Sorry, no help for you. The computer has determined that the price for natural gas has caused the heating cost to exceed budget for this month. The next budget cycle starts in two days. Can you put on more clothing?"

XML saves the world again!

BTW, cannot RTF summary because weblogs.com is blocked by company proxy. Had to go off other article.

OASIS TC: oBIX (3, Interesting)

dubbayu_d_40 (622643) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561681)

A new TC has been formed at OASIS for this very purpose: Open Building Information Exchange.

Control systems such as LonTalk and BACnet are pretty unusable by enterprise class developers. However the data contained in these systems is extremely beneficial to enterprise IT.

www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbre v=obix

Oh the irony! XML for efficiency (4, Funny)

GOD_ALMIGHTY (17678) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561689)

While I'm sure even XML in an intelligent system could improve overall efficiency of a building, it just seems funny that one of the most bloated tools in the toolbox would be used to do it.

Re:Oh the irony! XML for efficiency (1)

LincolnQ (648660) | more than 10 years ago | (#9562112)

I don't *think* you're a troll. Well, I'll bite.

XML in text is ridiculously bloated, yes, but as soon as you gzip it (or use pretty much any compression scheme), it barely has any overhead above the data, and retains its extensibility. That is, I am assuming that data overhead IS what you were referring to by "bloat." And the eXtensible part of XML makes it great whenever you might have to change something in the future, which is "always." And since XML is so easy for anyone, programmer or no, to write in plain text and then gzip, I think it's really great as a tool.

In other news... (1)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561699)

"Reducing water consumption using Windows(TM)"

Even if new buildings are connected to Internet, they usually don't communicate between themselves. And when it comes to water, these buildings are selfish and consume what they want without any coordination. Now, a Windows (TM) based system developed at Microsoft is using Windows services to collectively adjust water usage to variations in price and subscription levels. The system called Microsoft Flush (TM) regulates the volume of water used to flush the toilet. The amount of water used is automatically adjusted according to the subscription level of the user. Subscribers to the Professional service get to access the full power of the flush, while basic subscribers are restricted to 0.25 gallons per poop. Technology Research News reports that the system was successfully tested for two weeks on five commercial buildings. 'Beyond price, systems could be programmed to respond to changes in brand royalty and tap into the septic dump to spray criminal pirates for using illegal copies of Microsoft (TM) products.You'll find more details, pictures and references in this overview.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9561773)

Microsoft also incorporates Gravity (TM) to help. Toilets flushed on the higher floors push that water down to the toilet on the floors bellow. An overall gain of 32 gallons of water a day is saved with this.

BACnet (5, Informative)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561703)

I work for a building automation contractor, and I can tell you, this stuff has been around for years. There's even a standard for stuff like this, and it's nothing nearly as lame as a new XML-DTD-that-will-save-the-world.

The standard is called BACnet (Building Automation and Control Network), and it was (and is) developed by ASHRAE [ashrae.org] , the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-conditioning Engineers.

We (at my company) are a dealer for a particular brand [automatedlogic.com] of native BACnet controllers and software. It's all web-based. Everyone in the industry has web-based software now. Ours happens to be multi-site, too. And ours can interface easily with several hundred different manufacturers' products, including UPS and generator managers. We also frequently take direct control of chillers, which are huge power hogs. All of this can be programmed to maintain a steady climate, light areas appropriately, and keep equipment from failing prematurely, all while monitoring and controlling power usage.

This is hardly news, and certainly not standards-compliant.

Problem with ambiguity (0, Offtopic)

Clipper (547339) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561721)

Totally off topic, but....

upon first reading the subject, I thought to myself "They make buildings out of XML now? But why do those buildings get lower electricity bills?!"

Oh, the loveliness that is ambiguity

*yawn* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9561732)

Power systems and automated control. Welcome to the 1960s.

This is good for a budget (1)

marnargulus (776948) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561736)

Say you have a budget of X dollars a month for electricity. You don't want to lose that money to someone else's projects if you are in charge of it, but you don't want to go over it either. So what do you do? You maximize your usage of electricity whenever possible, and cut back when the costs start hitting too hard. Yeah, you could do it on half power all the time, but the goal isn't to minimize costs, it is to maximize cost effectiveness. Make the most for the dollar you spend.

Couldn't resist... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9561738)

1) Saving electricity through XML...Over Cat5 cables...is that like SOAP on a rope?

2) Can I use a malicious XML packet to send some extra voltage to my cubicle-neighbor's game of solitaire?

3) If you install a MS-OS next to a Linux installation, would the resulting XML exchange be dubbed as a "power struggle?"

4) Is there a way to make sure that in case of a power outage, my LAN party setup and the quakeserver stay up while the rest of the company's machines power down gracefully?

5) If the main server gets 0wn3d, will the h4x0r be able to get fr00t juice?

I wonder.... (1)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561755)

Do they save more electricity with this system than they would by shutting down all the servers involved? :-)

centralised building lighting control (2, Interesting)

throwaway18 (521472) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561781)

Large buildings in the UK often have addressable lighting fixtures. I suspect they get put in as standard when a large building gets rewired these days. The main use is to automatically turn off all the lights in the evening.
There is usually an untidy pile of desktop computers in the security room or the maintanence guys office thats runs it.

I'v seen a poor electrician wandering around a big building for months. The labourers who installed the fittings took all the caps off the fixtures and threw them in a big pile. The serial numbers were on the caps. The electrician would fiddle with the computer,
wander off for a couple of hours and return with the news that fitting 4732 was in a cuboard somewhere.

I can't see any reason for buildings to talk to each other. Brownouts are unheard of here in the UK, you get the full voltage or very ocasionally nothing. I suspect it is due to the use of 240volts, less current is needed for the same power so less voltage drop due to the resistance of the wires.

Lighting control is in the hands of electricians. Good luck getting them to use XML and configure things so buildings interact with each other.

The UK is small (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561833)

UK Geographic size: 93,000 square miles
Texas Geographic size: 267,277 square miles.

We do not have very many brown out in Texas either.

You're kidding...right? (1)

Scott Richter (776062) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561901)

I can't see any reason for buildings to talk to each other. Brownouts are unheard of here in the UK, you get the full voltage or very ocasionally nothing. I suspect it is due to the use of 240volts, less current is needed for the same power so less voltage drop due to the resistance of the wires.

Actually, it's because you guys don't have this condition we in the states call "Summer," which is when the temperature gets up to 40C and everybody's running their air conditioners constantly.

Voltage drop is irrelevant because all power lines are high voltage in both countries until it comes to the last, say, hundred feet. Really, you didn't think anyone transmitted long-distance at 120V (or even 240V) did you? Good God!

That's what the transformer on every block is for - stepping the V from thousands of volts to something that won't kill little Johnny when he sticks his scissors in the socket.

Re:You're kidding...right? (1)

throwaway18 (521472) | more than 10 years ago | (#9562116)

and everybody's running their air conditioners constantly.
Which causes a voltage drop along the wires. Obviously you should either be using thicker wires or a higher voltage. I can't believe it's the generator being overloaded.

all power lines are high voltage in both countries until it comes to the last, say, hundred feet.
More like half a mile in a 240volt system.
That's what the transformer on every block is for
Th UK electrical system has fewer step down transformers than the US.

Why wasn't this done befor energy deregulation? (4, Interesting)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561786)

Isn't it obvious that the first step to having a free market is having published prices?

Until your XML-enabled thermostat, XML-enabled X-10 command center, or XML-enabled ADT Security Panel reports out the current $/kwh, energy should not be market-priced to the minute. Somehow, California missed this in its great experiment.

Re:Why wasn't this done befor energy deregulation? (1)

Urban Garlic (447282) | more than 10 years ago | (#9562093)

> Isn't it obvious that the first step to having a free market is having published prices?

Erm, no.

A "free market" is one in which participants exchange goods and services at a mutually agreed-upon price, according to the law of supply and demand, with third parties having no say in the matter.

Price disclosure and other "fairness" requirements are common, but not required for the market to be free.

Even better (2, Interesting)

marnargulus (776948) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561824)

It would be great if we could set this up, and have multiple power suppliers for an area. The XML would automatically determine the lower price and order from that vendor for a month. Companies would "bid" for large areas, and power prices would drop. The only problem would be if too many people did this and forced the more expensive power companies out of business.

XML Buildings? (1)

DarthSepulsive (189479) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561845)

I wonder what the XML Schema for these new XML based buildings looks like. Or do they still use DTDs?

Yeah, Load Shedding... (2, Interesting)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561861)

Like another poster pointed out, Load Shedding is done to great effect to help curb power use. The Best Buys' in my area subscribe to this by cranking up the temperature in summers to lower AC usage and/or by turning off half the lights.

But I don't see how this is going to work in office buildings. Turn the AC down in my office by even a few degrees and it gets unbearably hot. The office also has few windows and only one set of fluorescent lights per office, turn out the lights and we cna't do any work.

What's that leave, the company water fountain?

"Fountain's off"
"Oh, must've been a price increase for power this morning..."

Ask Slashdot: (1)

Maljin Jolt (746064) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561883)

Is it possible to reduce stupidity with XML too?

Re:Ask Slashdot: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9561930)

Give it up, you have no hope...

Next step (1)

jmcwork (564008) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561907)

Great. Next someone will use XML to control other utilities, like water. Then someone applies the wrong style sheet and the building looks like that Three Stooges episode with water coming out of the chandeliers.

Sample of the code (2, Funny)

Brain Stew (225524) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561918)

<?xml version=1.0 encoding=ISO-8859-1?>

<savings system>
<energy plan>
<cost> low </cost>
<consumption> a lot </consumption>
</energy plan>
<savings system>

It's genius! Genius I tells ya!

I think the original topic is misleading (3, Insightful)

StateOfTheUnion (762194) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561942)

Original poster wrote:

Even if new buildings are connected to Internet, they usually don't communicate between themselves. And when it comes to electricity, these buildings are selfish and consume what they want without any coordination.

Am I missing something here? I just reread the articles and I didn't see anything about buildings communicating between themselves. . . I saw an article about buildings configured to respond to energy price information . . . but this information is not shared between buildings. In fact there is a diagram at this link [weblogs.com] from the original post . . . and it shows XML sent from a central center, not between buildings.

In fact . . . Quoting from the same link: Beyond price, systems could be programmed to respond to changes in air quality, to participate in emissions trading schemes, to tap into sustainable energy sources, to coordinate the responses of groups of buildings, and possibly to minimize local brownout threats and price spikes, according to Connors. "There's still some wiggle room. But, all in all, it's a very cool beginning," he said.

The article says that one could . . . coordinate responses between buildings

The people who did this did not make buildings communicate which each other . . . they said that the could use the same technology to do this. The original post is at best misleading. At worst just plain wrong (according to the articles it cites). Either way it strikes me as an example of exagerated irresponsible journalism.

Re:I think the original topic is misleading (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 10 years ago | (#9562051)

Even more exagerated and irresponsible because SNMP has allows HVAC, lighting, and even network equipment to yat with central control for years.

Re-doing all this stuff with XML is just plain stupid. There IS an existing network standard. Sure, it's a crude and imperfect standard, but it's there and a lot of what you buy already talks it.

Next we'll be reading about how XML will revolutionize electronic music.

This is how it begins... (1)

freeze128 (544774) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561954)

This is how the end of the world begins. First, we connect everything to the internet. Then, a super intelligent AI decides that humans must be exterminated. After that, it's just a matter of a few packets to the right address, and then traffic lights are getting screwed up, draw bridges going up and down, the power in your office building going on and off....

Didn't anyone see Maximum Overdrive?

Re:This is how it begins... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9562117)

Too late, the Matrix already has you.

I would like a system... (1)

OgreChow (206018) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561956)

..that could open my windows and shut the AC off when the temperature and humidity drop.

Now my *house* is on the net? (0)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561972)



Great. Like I don't get enough "refinance your mortgage!" spam already...

Help! My office building has been hacked! (2, Funny)

the Luddite (778967) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561987)

Everytime I flip the light switch the AC turns off and if I use the coffee pot it does unspeakable things to anyone unfortunate enough to be in the bathroom!

RFC (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 10 years ago | (#9561993)

Yeah, the RFC [faqs.org] isn't as specific as XML, but gives the principles

And all this time I've been using SNMP (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 10 years ago | (#9562019)

What was I thinking?

I guess I'll have to throw away all this existing building control equipment that all interoperates, so I can jump on this XML bandwagon.

/Tongue planted firmly in cheek.

So if this were adopted on a wide scale... (1)

scrod98 (609124) | more than 10 years ago | (#9562073)

Wouldn't it be a self defeating system? If hundreds (or thousands) of building suddenly increase their usage to take advantage of cheap prices, wouldn't that also lead to rolling brownouts or blackouts? Conversely, if all dropped the consumption quickly, wouldn't that lead to the price dropping due to greatly reduced demand?

Seems like there needs to be an additional level of communication between the buildings so everyone doesn't shift at once. The model is cool with 5 buildings, but will need more work to scale up.

As is says in TFA, it is only a narrow proof, simply a beginning.

Building Controls Systems (1)

Mr. Underhill (119443) | more than 10 years ago | (#9562096)

This stuff is a lot older than the article implies. If you want to see a networked building control system that uses XML drop by Johnson Controls Metasys [jci.com] . It does everything the article talks about and way more besides. The XML apspect of the system is only about a year and a half old but the networked demand limiting/load rolling apsects are 10+ years old.

So I can pretty much say the article is XML hype.

just imagine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9562101)

just imagine a whole city networked with XML...

you could then implement a "screen-saver-like" application that would make lights flicker on and off across the city in psychedelic patterns!
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