Brick: Unified metadata for buildings

Commercial buildings have long since been a primary target for applications from a number of areas: from cyber-physical systems to building energy use to improved human interactions in built environments. While technological advances have been made in these areas, such solutions rarely experience widespread adoption due to the lack of a common descriptive schema reducing the now-prohibitive cost of porting these applications and systems to different buildings.

Brick is an open-source, BSD-licensed development effort to create a uniform schema for representing metadata in buildings. Brick has three components:

  1. An RDF class hierarchy describing the various building subsystems and the entities and equipment therein
  2. A minimal, principled set of relationships for connecting these entities together into a directed graph representing a building
  3. A method of encapsulation for composing complex components from a set of lower-level ones


E-mission: The first open-source, extensible mobilityscope platform

E-mission is a project to build a mobilityscope, an instrument that allows cost-effective, ongoing, fine-grained observation of individual travel patterns, including trip start and end times, trajectories, modes, transfers between modes, and any incidents that occurred en route, collated across a target population and designed to extensibly enable processes that meet societal goals.


Hamilton: A $10 mote?

With the Storm and Firestorm projects we explored how best to construct a low power 32 bit mote that could simultaneously handle complex tasks, but operate at extremely low power. With the Hamilton project we decided to explore the third dimension in the design space: cost. Can you make a low power 32-bit mote at a price point that makes the technology relevant? Furthermore, can the ancilliary technologies be good enough that the total cost of a securely deployed mote, including labor and maintenance, is reasonable? Under a DOE-sponsored project, we have developed a $10 mote and are exploring technologies for secure and manageable large-scale deployments of wireless sensors in buildings.


Identifying an appliance for interaction in commercial buildings becomes non-trivial as the number of smart appliances explodes. SnapLink is a system for users to intuitively "look up" appliances using image matching-based technique on a pre-constructed and annotated visual model of building interiors.

  • Kaifei Chen
  • Tong Li
  • Jack Kolb
  • Hyung-Sin Kim
  • SnapLink: Fast and Accurate Vision-Based Appliance Control in Large Commercial Buildings. [pdf]
    Kaifei Chen, Jonathan Fürst, John Kolb, Hyung-Sin Kim, Xin Jin, David E. Culler, and Randy H. Katz.
    Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies, Vol. 1, No. 4 (IMWUT Q4 2017).
    2018 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (Ubicomp 2018).

WAVE: A global-scale authorization system with no central authority

WAVE (WAVE is an Authorization Verification Engine) is a global-scale fully-decentralized authorization system that operates with no central authorities yet permits fine-grained management of permissions for IoT devices, services and people. It allows access and control of resources across multiple administrative domains without any of those domains trusting eachother or trusting any external third parties, completely unlike the prevailing authorization systems today. It also permits non-interactive delegation, critical for scalability. The system is built on top of verifiable, horizontally scalable storage, and it uses encryption to protect privacy of authorization.

  • WAVE: A Decentralized Authorization Framework with Transitive Delegation. [pdf]
    Michael P Andersen, Sam Kumar, Moustafa AbdelBaky, Gabe Fierro, John Kolb, Hyung-Sin Kim, David E. Culler, and Raluca Ada Popa.
    28th USENIX Security Symposium (Security 2019).


XBOS-DR: Customer-controlled, price mediated, automated demand response for commercial buildings

The services demanded of commercial building customers—heating, cooling, ventilating, lighting, computing, and plug loads—require significant energy and contribute to peak energy demand. Large commercial customers (1 MW, >50,000 sf) typically have a Building Management System (BMS) that controls building services in order to respond to price signals. Residential customers have an abundance of demand response solutions, communicating thermostats, for example.

Small commercial customers (<100 kW, <50,000 sf), however, typically do not have BMS, and thus cannot easily participate in demand response. This problem has not been addressed because an open source and open architecture enabling platform runs counter to the business model of many companies, who want to maintain a single vendor, proprietary solution.

The proposed open source and open architecture platform, a Demand Response manager based on the eXtensible Building Operating System (XBOS-DR), can interface with multiple hardware devices from different vendors as well as include software applications from various vendors. With its ability to create a virtual BMS for small commercial buildings by networking thermostats and other controllers, XBOS-DR can provide large and small commercial customers with a variety of choices for demand response capability.

The project goal is to improve energy efficiency by enabling effective management and integration of demand response associated with tariff schedules and distributed generation with other building services in residential and commercial buildings by developing a system architecture supporting demand-response message passing and translation between the smart grid and the XBOS-DR building management system.


XBOS-V: Plug-in electric vehicle smart charging in California

This interdisciplinary project focuses on controlling the charging of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) at residential and small commercial settings using a novel and flexible open-source, open-architecture charge communication and control platform.

This software-based platform known as “XBOS-V” (Open eXtensible Building Operation System/Vehicles) will be embedded in the context of overall utility and residential/business electrical and building automation systems, lending itself to potential broad implementation by commercial interests.

The integrated project will also focus on the key issues associated with the development of the open-source platform including assessment of user needs and grid operation and ratepayer benefits, grid security considerations, and the potential for PEV charge control to lead to increased ability to accept intermittent renewable energy for California’s electrical grid.

The platform would be developed to build on previous work for vehicle-grid solutions, including through such protocols as OpenADR, SEP 2.0, Zigbee, SAE J1772, and ISO 15118. The project brings together a group of researchers from the University of California – Berkeley and BMW North America LLC to also conduct an in-depth study that will gather key information learned from the “i ChargeForward” project by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and BMW.

The project will use key insights and observations from the pilot project to inform the development of the Open XBOS-V platform and associated grid and user benefits analysis. Up to 100 participants are expected in the i ChargeForward program for BMW i3 drivers, starting in Summer 2015.