H. Michael Newman, founding father of the BACnet protocol, lived a legendary life and leaves behind a legacy to an industry well served.

In 2014, H. Michael Newman was inducted into the ControlTrends Hall of Fame as "Father of BACnet". He will be sorely missed. (Abb. © ControlTrends)

It is with heavy hearts that the worldwide BACnet community says goodbye to Mike. We would like to send our thoughts and deepest sympathy to his relatives. In BACnet he created a landmark whose significance is familiar to industry experts all over the world. Mike will be remembered by all of us who had the pleasure of knowing him as someone who was extremely sympathetic and an expert in his field. His legacy will be in the continued application of his standard. His initiative and efforts to standardize a data communication protocol for building automation will never be forgotten. With him, we also left a bridge between Europe and North America. May he rest in peace.

In the mid-1970s, Mike Newman took over the operation of the energy management system at Cornell University, Ithaca NY, with IBM Series/7 computers. He wrote:  “That’s when the real trouble began. All the building automation companies started offering DDC equipment – and none of them could communicate with each other. I began to wonder who was working on a standard protocol. It was clear to me that the lack of a standard would ultimately be a major barrier to the widespread adoption of DDC technology.” After IBM introduced its own protocol, he contacted ASHRAE in late 1986 which proved to be the beginning of the ASHRAE protocol. ” BACnet TM ” was registered as a trademark in 1992 ensuring its protection from thereon.

Mike Newman was, among other things, patron of the first German BACnet reference book “BACnet Gebäude-Automation” by Hans Kranz (now in its 3rd, completely revised and extended edition by cci Buch – more information here: https://cci dialog.de/buch/b/bacnet_1_12- 1_19.html

Here are the key facts from Mike's eventful life.

H. Michael “Mike” Newman had a long and distinguished business career. He graduated from Cornell University in 1965 with a bachelors degree in technical physics. In 1966, after an internship at AEG in Berlin, he received a master’s degree in the same field and subsequently worked as a postgraduate in astrophysics at the NASA Center for radiophysics and space research. After ten years as a pilot and flight instructor, assisting in the design and maintenance of electronic aircraft installations, Mike returned to Cornell to work in facility management operations to further develop and install the university’s BACSI (Building Automation and Control System Integrator).

The system controlled nearly 400 buildings with almost 1,337,531 BACnet objects (data points) (Feb. 2020 figures) and was one of the first systems of its kind to combine multi-user and multi-protocol computers in an integrated, vendor- neutral environment. He was head of the building automation systems integration group within facilities services at Cornell University. Mike was also a member of the Association of Energy Engineers of the Cornell Society of Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a leading member of the Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society (ISA).

As a Fellow and lifetime member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Mike was a member of the Research and Technical Committee that oversaw ASHRAE’s research program and its technical committees; he was a member of TC 1.4, the Technical Committee “Control Theory and Application”, until July 2000. He was also the founding chairman of the Standards Project Committee 135P, which developed the BACnet communication protocol for building automation networks, and until July 2000 he was chairman of the subsequent Standing Standards Project Committee SSPC 135, which was responsible for the interpretation and extension of BACnet.

In 2003 he received the ASHRAE Standards Achievement Award and in 2010 the Distinguished Service Award. In 2004, he was appointed head of the XML working group of the BACnet committee that published the BACnet Web Services Addendum, BACnet/WS, and was later made head of the elevators working group. He was a member of the board of directors of BACnet International, the successor group to the BACnet Manufacturers’ Association, and chairman of the ASHRAE Standards Committee, which oversees all of ASHRAE’s standards work, and a member of the Technology Council. Mike was part of the organising committee that set up the Professional Development Seminar (PDS) on “Automatic Temperature Control” and was the PDS spokesperson on “Automation Stations for HVAC Monitoring and Control” for twelve years. He contributed to several revisions of the “Automation” (Automatic Control) chapter of the ASHRAE manual.

In 1999, he was the co-author of the “GSA Guide to Specifying Interoperable Building Automation and Control Systems Using the BACnet ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 135-1995” published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and translated and adapted by Hans Kranz for Germany as the “VDI-TGA/BIG-EU Guide to Tendering Interoperable Building Automation based on DIN EN ISO 1648” and adapted for Germany. Mike Newman was the author of the award- winning reference book “Direct Digital Control of Building Systems – Theory and Practice”. His second book (initiated by Hans Kranz) “BACnet – The Global Standard for Building Automation and Control Networks” was published in 2013. In the opening chapters he described the origins of BACnet and his involvement in it in detail. Link: https://www.amazon.com/Direct-Digital-Control-Building-Systems/dp/0471516961.

Mike Newman was a consultant to the Architect of the Capitol, the National Institute of Building Sciences and NIST in Washington DC, as well as a number of private companies. He was a member of the US delegation to the Advisory Review Board of the International
Energy Agency on the use of microelectronic control systems for energy conservation in
buildings and served as the US expert for ISO/TC 205, “Building environment design”, of the International Organization for Standardization at meetings around the world. He was chairman of the US Technical Advisory Group and the US delegation leaders.

Mike spoke all over the world and as early as the 1990s was a speaker at the “Home and
Building Automation Forum ” in Paris. He actively participated in the foundation of the BACnet Interest Group Europe 1998 in Frankfurt. At the Building Performance Congress at the Light + Building in 2000, again in Frankfurt, he gave a lecture entitled “BACnet – Past, Present and Future”.

In 2001 he was a member of a three-member BACnet delegation to Beijing and
Wuhan/China and in 2002 to Tokyo and Osaka/Japan. He was in Seoul/Korea in 2004 to present a BACnet update to the Intelligent Building Society of Korea together with Hans Kranz; he participated in the foundation of the BACnet Interest Groups Austral Asia in Sydney and Middle East in Dubai/VAE, and spoke at the SHK Moscow 2004. He participated in many ISO/TC 205 meetings in Berlin, Tromsö, Copenhagen, Seoul, Paris, Cairo, Delft, Kyoto, Sydney, La Rochelle, Stockholm and Wuxi. In 2003 he was a speaker at the VDI-TGA conference Building automation – prerequisite for building management in Karlsruhe.

In 1999, Mike Newman was nominated “Engineer of the Year” by the Twin Tiers
Chapter of ASHRAE, and in 2001 he received an award of the same name from the Broome Chapter of the New York State Society of Professional Engineers.

In 2014, H. Michael Newman was inducted into the ControlTrends Hall of Fame as “Father of BACnet”. He will be sorely missed.

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