[BLDG-SIM] Hornet's Next - Policy for Public Investment in Energy Software

Jeff Hirsch Jeff.Hirsch at DOE2.com
Mon Jan 31 02:34:43 PST 2000

First, take a deep breath ... 

The basic ideas Charles expresses are, in my view, on track.  But some of
the details are biased toward his interests.  For example, VisualDOE and eQUEST
have both benefited from substantial support from California utilities use of "Public
Goods Charge" (PGC) funds. Both have had very substantial investment by
their developing companies (Eley for VisualDOE and JJHirsch for eQUEST.)
eQUEST is freeware for users and can be licensed by anyone for further
development without per copy royalty.  VisualDOE, currently, is marketed
as a commercial product.  So, I do not understand; under the policy
proposed is it suggested that eQUEST should be sold for a fee and not licensed
for further development, or that VisualDOE should be treated the same a
eQUEST - freeware and source licensed to anyone, or that neither should
have been funded in the first place?

Policy can treat private funded projects differently from Government funded
projects but for the policy to work it must treat different Government funded
projects similarly and different private funded projects similarly.

Obviously the key here is that both VisualDOE and eQUEST would not exist without
the combination of public and private investment; the partnership that Charles' paper
describes.  In both cases, I believe, the public funding should "extract" some
public benefit - such as the basic product being freeware (or very cheap) for
end users and the source being available (cheap) for developers - but the
private funding should provide some advantage to the developer as a "reward"
for their private investment.  I think the "reward" is that the private developers
get a head start, they retain copyright (so have an advantage over open source
in being able to do private products based on the starting point), and they gain
the internal know-how/experience from the project.  Future such public-private
partnerships should allow the developers to continue to retain ownership
of the copyright, but require that the "starting point" which is developed using
the public funds be placed out as open source under a Mozilla-like license; the
developer could, however, continue on with their original source copy to develop
private version licensed in any way they see fit.

The California investor owned utilities (and EPRI), when deciding to support
QUEST development "extracted" the public benefit but other California utilities,
when deciding to support VisualDOE, Cool Tools, and other related projects,
did not "extract" much that is yet seen.  This later case should change.  A similar
problem exists with California Public Interest Energy Research (PIER)
funding; they are spending millions on software tools in this field, but have
not published the terms to be used in the licenses for the resultant software.

When the support for the software comes ENTIRELY from public funds - be it
DOE, CEC/PIER, etc. - the ENTIRE resulting work should be made open
source under the BSD-like license so that anyone can run with it in any way.
Such software should not use the Mozilla-like open source license, as that format
was intended for use when the posted source contains substantial private 
investment; the Mozilla format "rewards" the copyright holder by leveling the
playing field for all but him/her who decided to make their private work open.

For EnergyPlus, Energy10, DBA, Radiance, Superlite, Window-4, BLAST,
CalERDA-1 through DOE-2.1C, and all the many such fully publicly funded software,
the route to take is clear: BSD-like license so that anyone can run with it in
any way on a level playing field.  However, I also believe that we don't need full
packaged commercial products from 100% government funds using 100%
directed procurements (sole source contracting); full products, if needed, should
be bid out as open procurements with a requirement for real cost-sharing.
If no bidder is willing to put up private money (not just another pot of public funds)
it is doubtful the product is needed.  If a full product is needed, it is best developed
within the private sector by companies who will, in the end, need to market it and
support it and who probably also understand the customer needs better than the
US Government, National Labs, or other public funding sources.

That said, however, I am 100% in favor of Government funding of basic algorithm, 
model and technology development; as I have said before, many advancements
in this field would not exist without this funding.  EnergyPlus the LBNL/UI
commercial product - NO; EnergyPlus the BSD-like open source simulation
toolkit maintained by LBNL and UI (and hopefully others in the future) - YES.
Energy10 the NREL commercial product - NO; Energy10 the BSD-like open source 
toolkit copyrighted by winning bidder XYZ company (and the private by-product
being XYZE10+ enhanced $1000 version) - YES.  VisualDOE the commercial
product - NO; VisualDOE the Mozilla-like open source toolkit copyrighted
by winning bidder Eley Associates (and the private by-product being Eley
VisualDOE+ enhanced $1000 version) - YES.  eQUEST the commercial
product - NO; eQUEST the Mozilla-like open source simulation and interface toolkit
copyrighted by winning bidder JJHirsch Associates (and the private by-product
being JJH eQUESTpro enhanced $1000 version - well, we pass on that one for
now, but reserve the right to do it) - YES.  

DOE-2 is a good example - we used several million dollars of private money 
in addition to several hundred thousand of public money (DOE and CA PGC
funds) to do our part of DOE-2.1D, DOE-2.1E and DOE-2.2.  We could
not have done this if the DOE-2 portions supported by DOE had a royalty
attached or had licensing that restricted redistribution (like Mozilla or like
the proposed, even more restrictive licensing for EnergyPlus) since we
could not have demonstrated to our private funders how THEY would
benefit.  DOE "extracted" from us royalty free DOE-2.2 distribution to the
public; even though US Government contracting of software development to
small businesses requires no such license grant for the privately funded
portions, DOE felt this DOE-2.2 license grant was required to fulfill their
public interest responsibility (though they have chosen, so far, not to
use that license grant to distribute DOE-2.2 to the public.) This is also
why I raised the question: does the user/developer community believe
we should move to open source licensing for DOE-2?

The policy should not be to say that US public money should be spend on engines but
not interfaces; the policy should be - if the need exists, the priority is high enough,
and the private sector cannot do it well enough or fast enough alone, plus 
US public funds are available, then do it all ... but do it in a way that partners with,
enables, and enhances the competitiveness of US companies in the world market.
Jeff Hirsch
James J. Hirsch & Associates
Building Performance Analysis Software & Consulting
12185 Presilla Road
Camarillo, CA 93012-9243 USA
phone: (805) 553-9000
fax: (805) 532-2401
email: Jeff.Hirsch at DOE2.com
web: http://DOE2.com

You received this e-mail because you are subscribed 
to the BLDG-SIM at GARD.COM mailing list.  To unsubscribe 
from this mailing list send a blank message to 
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.onebuilding.org/pipermail/bldg-sim-onebuilding.org/attachments/20000131/676eac13/attachment-0005.htm>

More information about the Bldg-sim mailing list