43 min read

🎧 #116: Integrating "Smart" Into the Construction Process with Charlie Buscarino

“In the beginning of their journey to a smart building, many of our clients are wondering what they need to buy to check the box.

We've flipped that so that the conversation looks at the experiences, outcomes, and capabilities that are meaningful to the organization. Then we can look at the technology."

—Charlie Buscarino

Welcome to Nexus, a newsletter and podcast for smart people applying smart building technology—hosted by James Dice. If you’re new to Nexus, you might want to start here.

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A quick community announcement: Now that Cohort 5 of our Foundations course is launched, I want to make sure everyone knows that we also do private cohorts. All of you do onboarding when you hire new people… think of this as industry onboarding. We host teams of 10 or more and teach the smart buildings industry to them in a private setting. Hit us up to get on our schedule.

Episode 116 is a conversation with Charlie Buscarino, the leader of a smart buildings consultancy called The Clarient Group.


Charlie’s team has a unique process for integrating the concept of a smarter building into the construction process, which has a long and storied history of creating dumb buildings. How do they do it? We go deep into it in this episode of the Nexus podcast.

A message from our partner, Montgomery Technologies:

Cybersecurity, change management, remote access, and data integrity across 8-10 siloed systems per building presents a significant challenge for CRE operations. Just knowing where everything is, how it is connected, and where it is connected can be too much for thinly-staffed corporate IT departments, whose primary function is to oversee the corporate network.

🎥 Watch this quick explainer video to learn how a converged network fills this gap, solves for all the above, and is the first step to enabling a Smart Building.

  1. The Clarient Group (7:09)
  2. Division 25 (22:51)

You can find Charlie on LinkedIn.



  • Charlie’s background (2:43)
  • Asking the smart building question (9:04)
  • Use case scoring and prioritizing (15:45)
  • Division 25 (22:51)
  • The device layer (27:51)
  • IDL platform marketplace (35:05)
  • More on division 25 (40:34)
  • Case study (50:18)
  • Carveouts (55:14)

A message from our partner, enVerid Systems:

Improving indoor air quality (IAQ) with optimized ventilation and air cleaning need not conflict with building decarbonization and climate resilience goals.

Read enVerid's new white paper, How to Achieve Sustainable Indoor Air Quality, to learn how a four-step Clean First approach can be used to design and operate low-energy, high-IAQ, climate resilient buildings of the future.

👋 That's all for this week. See you next Thursday!

Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways Nexus Labs can help you:

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Music credit: Dream Big by Audiobinger—licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.

Full transcript

Note: transcript was created using an imperfect machine learning tool and lightly edited by a human (so you can get the gist). Please forgive errors!

[00:00:33] James Dice: Our first sponsor on the show had to be Montgomery technologies. Their COO Joe grasper, Doni is easily. The number one fan of the show. No offense, of course, to any of you, other hardcore listeners out there, but Joe listens to every episode sometimes more than once. And then he gives me his feedback via email. Good, bad, or otherwise.

Joe as a podcast host dream. And I think you've made me a much better interviewer. Jonas team liked to remind all of you of [00:01:00] the importance of the network layer and the smart building stack. Technology installed in buildings placed a heavy burden on commercial real estate operations teams.

Cybersecurity change management road, access data. Integrity across all the different siloed systems in the building presents a significant challenge, just knowing where everything is, how it is connected, where it is connected can be too much for thinly staffed, corporate it departments. Their primary function is to oversee the corporate network, not all of these systems in the network.

So learn how a converged network fills this gap. By clicking the link in the show notes, it shows how a converged network solves for all of the above and is the first step to enabling a smarter building.

All right. Let's kick off this episode with the nexus community announcement cohort, five of the nexus foundations course launches next week. So whether you're new to the industry or just new to smart building tech, this course, and the entire experience we've developed was designed to shorten your learning curve and give you a community of like-minded Changemakers to learn with.

So check out nexus lab online [00:02:00] slash foundations to enroll or sign up for the waitlist.

This episode is a conversation with Charlie booster, Reno leader of the smart buildings consultancy called the Clariant group. Charlie's team has unique process for integrating the concept of a smarter building into the construction process, which has a long and storied history of creating dumb buildings.

So how do they do it? We go deep into it on this episode of the nexus podcast.

Charlie. Welcome to the podcast. Can you introduce yourself?

[00:02:27] Charlie Buscarino: Hey, I'm Charlie. Buscaino. I'm the CEO of the declarant group. James. Good to see you again. Yeah. Great to see you. Where are you calling from? So I'm in my home in, uh, Millington, New Jersey. So east, east coast, east coast. Mm-hmm

[00:02:42] James Dice: nice. Cool. So gimme a little bit about your, your background.

You've been doing this for a long time. Let's hear, you know, maybe go all the

[00:02:49] Charlie Buscarino: way back. Long, long time. I've been, I, I started in, uh, the design and construction when I was 17. Okay. So, you know, my father worked for a company called Entin associates and, you [00:03:00] know, weekends and evenings, I would, you know, and during school breaks and whatever, I would go there.

Then I went to school in Hoboken, uh, school called Steven's Institute technology. Okay. And, you know, being in New York enabled me to work through weekends and make my way through college and so on. Um, and then when I graduated, I actually started working for a company called Hazel team corporation, which was a military.

Subcontractor designing microwave landing systems. Okay. Interesting. Which was really, really, really cool. Um, and so I was responsible for the, the hardware that went in the towers, but it kind of cut my teeth on, you know, uh, fiber optics and modems and membrane switches and print circle boards and all the meat and potatoes of, of data transport and so on.

Um, Then the, you know, I'm old, so that's when the bell companies started to break up. Okay. Okay. And so now the, the old firm I was working for was now getting into communications. You know, the, the bell [00:04:00] companies weren't handling that as much anymore. Um, and so they pulled me back in and I, you know, I was able to do electrical design and then started onto the, uh, the, the technology and cabling infrastructure in those pieces.

Okay. Um, so I was there for 18 years. Um, created their it group a V it security and so on. Um, then met some really cool people doing the time Warner center project. Okay. Um, and that, that was particularly interesting where, um, we were, we were doing all the technology designed for that. Um, but I met what ultimately became, you know, a partnership of five partners.

Okay. And one partner. Was all about experience. What's what's the emotion that you feel when you walk into a property? Is it as excitement? Is it subdued? Is it creativity? Is it curiosity? There was another one who was, came outta the real estate world and he taught me if you wanna have a conversation with a developer, you do it in a spreadsheet.[00:05:00]

Okay. You know, if you, if you can't have that conversation in the spreadsheet, there's nothing more to talk about. If you do, then you can kind of go on and continue the conversation. Okay. Um, there was another one who was around medium broadcast. So if you're gonna create a destination property, you wanna tell your story, you wanna build excitement, you wanna get it out there.

How do you do that? And then there was another one who ran operations. Obviously you have this destination location, you wanna activate it, you gotta keep it going. You gotta keep it profitable, et cetera. And I was a technology guy. Okay. Um, but over that period, um, not only did I, I, I learned all these other pieces, but I, I became run operations.

Right. So I really had, you know, immersed myself in what these, these elements were. And then the net takeaway was, and I love technology. It's not about the technology. It's never about the technology. Mm-hmm okay. It's about reducing capital costs, reducing operating costs, generating revenue, [00:06:00] or creating this superior customer experience.

So that group was the foundation of the CLAT group. Gotcha. Which we went on and they've moved on and now it's just me. Um, but that became who we are and what we do. And so we leveraged technology as a tool. But it really jumpstarted us into this concept of experience. What is the experience? How do you leverage technology to create these experiences?

Got it. Um, and so along those lines, um, when, and, and we had always taken the trajectory. If I'm doing your AV, your, it, your security, your network, two-way radio, et cetera, cetera, to some extent, I almost owe you bringing those pieces together. So that one on one equals three. Okay. That that's, I, I felt that was my obligation and that was the value that I can bring that others may not be able to bring based on the breadth of what I was unable to deliver to a project.

And then we decided to go further and said, listen, it's not because [00:07:00] it's not about the technology. Not only do how do I bring them together, but how do I bring 'em together in a meaningful way, so to support experience and so on. Cool.

[00:07:08] James Dice: Cool. And when

[00:07:09] Charlie Buscarino: did, when did the CLAT group start? So we were 2000 and.

So we're celebrating our 20th year anniversary. So we've been, we've been holding on pretty well yeah.

[00:07:21] James Dice: Yeah. And, and so fast forward today, what types of projects and clients and buildings do you

[00:07:26] Charlie Buscarino: work on? So we're, I mean, look, we're very fortunate that we get to work in a multiple verticals. Okay. Um, and I would say that, you know, we really have true to what I was explaining before two sets of offerings that are complimentary.

Okay. We have the traditional design services. Structure cabling, AV security, et cetera. And then we have this digital ecosystem component, um, and how you kind of breathe life into a, into a property. Okay. Um, and I, and I, even on the digital ecosystem side, I, I really put it into, I almost, even that I kind of divide up and I [00:08:00] say, you know, when I one thinks of smart buildings and, and James, I say, look, we're gonna go into this, visit the smart building.

Um, And I use that term generically. Mm-hmm you you're gonna think it has, you know, it's, it's, it's, it's got fault detection, it's energy efficient, it's optimized, et cetera. Mm-hmm and to some extent, you know, I expect that, you know, good engineering should give me some of that. That's somewhat table stakes, not to the extreme, but I should have some of that mm-hmm but then the next piece is, well, what does it mean for me?

How's my experience gonna be different. How does that enable me to be more efficient? You know, how does it help me find my friends, order food, whatever. And so that's the part where CLA has really focused on. Okay, so there's the traditional side, but then how do we, how do we deal with this? Um, This immersion in a, in a, in a smart building project.

Got it. And they both feed each other. When I, when I know what the smart building wants, be the design and [00:09:00] vice versa. Mm-hmm .

[00:09:01] James Dice: Yeah. And I wanna dig into that, those two sides a little bit with you. Uh, first, first, I'm wondering, before we hit record, you were talking about having a lot of clients right now that are asking the smart building question.

What, what is the smart building question for some of your clients right now?

[00:09:18] Charlie Buscarino: It's, it's, it's really interesting. So. The nature of the conversation is typically what are other people doing? What's the technology that I should be looking at. Mm-hmm where do you see the market going? Um, and that was the, that, you know, because it, it typically tended to be a product mentality.

Okay. Right. What, what do I need to buy in order to check the box that I have a smart. Yeah. And when we were looking at this and we were hearing these questions, we, we really needed to change the dialogue. Hmm. Right. Um, and it's real. It really is about what is unique to your firm. You know, what is, what is [00:10:00] your, the experiences that are meaningful to this particular firm that we're talking to?

And there are common elements that traverse multiple firms, but anyone, you know, anyone who's had clients know that each firm that we deal with has a certain persona. Okay. A unique persona. Um, and one could say, it's their secret sauce. So we started flipping that conversation to say, we really need to look at the experiences and the outcomes and the capabilities that, that are meaningful to your organization.

And then we'll show you what the technology is because that's what we do. Um, and generally our conversations have nothing to do with technology when we start. Yeah, we don't, frankly, we don't want them to be it's really, what are those outcomes that we wanna focus? Got it. Got

[00:10:44] James Dice: it. And so for them, the smart building question might be, um, starting there.

And then now where does it go to after that? Mm-hmm once they, once they decide, okay, these are the outcomes I wanna pursue.

[00:10:58] Charlie Buscarino: Where does it go to then? [00:11:00] Well, it's kind of, it's interesting in that, even that conversation about what are the outcomes, um, when we were having those, when we have those conversations, when we were exploring this and, and maturing it, um, What we realized is, and we, we focused around use cases, right?

And I'll define a use case as what do I wanna be able to do? Where am I doing it? And what's the technology that is facilitating that action. Mm-hmm . And certainly there's an emotional tie to that. And, and more often than not, we found that, you know, I could have 50 use cases. But 10 of them, are they? Wow.

If you can do that, that's cool that we want that's meaningful. Okay. Um, but when ends happens, we also found that use cases aren't equal, right? So there's, there's that emotional connection, the desirability and so on, but it's also how many people does it touch? Does it touch just the guy in the loading dock or does it touch everybody who comes in?

How many systems [00:12:00] do I need in order to deliver that use case? Do I need. That I need to integrate or do I have six mm-hmm do I already have the technology? Right. If I have it, you know, then I'm good to go, frankly, what's the cost. Everybody always wants to know cost. Um, and then even our values, you know, wellness, ESG, other other pieces, how do they contribute?

So we ended up creating these use case scores. Mm-hmm that focused on the most impactful use cases. That now provided guidance to the team to say, yeah, that's right. And we did it in a way in which we could engage all the major stakeholders in the, in the project without making them part of the project.

So we had these surveys, we have, we have these surveys that we can put out to HR and facilities and marketing and leasing and so on. So everybody feels that, and, and they are being heard. Okay. And contribute to, um, you know, this ranking as well as I would say, maybe mitigating a little bit, [00:13:00] the senior staff that might, you know, the senior vice president who white, when he speaks in the room, everybody shuts up and that's what we end doing.

Mm-hmm which may or may not be the right answer. Right. Right. So we kind of get this, you know, collaborative feedback. Look back to your original question. Well, what's the next step? Well, based on what we described before, If I know the use cases, I know the technology that's required to deliver them. So now not only do I have the most impactful use cases, I have the most impactful technology.

So it helps guide that, that progression in a way in which I'm still not talking technology. Right? So all the participants can be engaged because they are also the drivers of the outcome. And so now I understand the mechanism which that happens. Um, what gets really interesting is when I know the technology, now I can now measure it against what I already have in [00:14:00] the project.

Hmm. And I'll, well, I'll put into three buckets, right. So I know all my, you know, I know all my enabling technologies that I require to deliver these use cases. Mm-hmm well, I'll say green, I. Use cases already in the budget are already in the that's. What I need to do. I'm good to go. Yellow is I have it, but I may not have all the elements of it.

So I may have security cameras, but I may not have analytics for people counting. Right. So I need to a new to do an increment on that. The last one is I don't have it. Right. So if I have a budget in mind, What I'm willing to spend on smart buildings. And I have an understanding of my most impactful technologies and so on.

Well, I also have a, a Delta in cost on my yellow and my red. So now I can, you know, I know what those numbers are. I add them up. I start to sort this around. I draw my lines. All right, this is what we're gonna do. And I can now really define, but the, the, the beauty of that [00:15:00] approach is. Not only do I know what I'm gonna do for my day one, but I master plan day two.

Totally. So those might be operational costs or phase, you know, increases or whatever. And the interesting thing is I, I ranked them based on most impactful use cases, but the same technologies that are in the most impactful may also be in the ones that weren't impactful, but their bonus. So I can also identify those totally.

Um, the beauty of doing this in the design phase is I can give clear direction to the team. It's not a performance spec. It's not a, you know, hope for it. I know exactly what I gotta deliver. Mm-hmm and the team knows what they're getting. Totally.

[00:15:46] James Dice: So. I've seen these use case lists and spreadsheets and, you know, PDFs, whatever you want to, like, I've seen a lot of them in the past, right?

It's like we start with this blue sky [00:16:00] thinking and we, you know, ideate to all these, you know, ideas. Um, we end up having hundreds of use cases. I'd love to hear more details about how you guys prioritize and assign value to each of them. Sure. Um, so it sounds like you're adding costs to them on the back end, but like, how do you, if, if you're trying to get an ROI, how do you get to where you have quantified and prioritized all these different use cases?

[00:16:26] Charlie Buscarino: So. Basically where, where we start is, you know, we certainly start with a persona and I'll just say, it's, it's the tenant. Okay. Or if it's a commercial office building, it's the, you know, it's the, it's the associate. Yeah. Um, and we go down the, this day in the life journey. Okay. What do I wanna be able to do before I leave my house?

What do I need to be able to do when I arrive? Um, when I concentrate, when I collaborate, when I refresh. And then, you know, different activities to the day. And then when I leave, right. And that frankly, any of us who've been in building or work [00:17:00] for a company, we can contribute to that. Mm-hmm then we take this other criteria that I was describing before to elevate those and separate them into, you know, um, again, what I described is the most impactful mm-hmm, what we have found.

And, and this is where it gets, it does get squishy. Right? So you can almost apply the, the JLL 3 30, 300 rule. But this really goes into the, the human element, the, the reducing friction, the improvement of, of, of, you know, engagement and functionality and so on. And it's, it's a little soft. Okay. But there are elements about there that are, um, Have their own value for arguments sake.

Like, you know, what is my visitor management process and, and how do I make that? Or what's the, you know, can I let my associates know? So they're not waiting around by their desk because I can ping them and say their visitors arrived, or how do I find my peers or hot desking? You know, I don't know that I can put a hard number on that.

But when you [00:18:00] look at well, what would I do if I didn't have that? They become self-evident. Hmm. If that helps me pick the technologies. The critical technologies that are necessary for those core capabilities. Okay. And again, many of them I already have in the project. Yeah. I have my security system. I have my visitor management.

So even that's not a heavy lift then when we start doing our pricing and what our budget is willing to be really, it's a value pricing to say which one of these things are gonna improve my organization as opposed to what's my ROI. And you can run it all the way up to zero. Look, I don't feel value or anything, but usually it's somewhere in.

With the ability to evaluate it as you go and improve on it and then expand as you choose. Okay. So it's, it's it's yeah. It's not so much about a hard number per se. I mean, I, I think there's studies that you can see that, you know, better engagements will give, you know, um, better outcomes, but it goes back to the, the [00:19:00] identity of the company.

Um, I, I certainly on the operational side of what we do, that's, that's more tangible mm-hmm okay. Um, but on the experience side, it's softer. Got it. Got it.

[00:19:10] James Dice: Okay. So you have these prioritized use cases. How do you get from there to design packages for all the different people that are working on the projects?

[00:19:21] Charlie Buscarino: So the nice thing about having the use cases and the outcomes and the technology, I know exactly what I need to deliver. Right. And. And, and there are projects in which this is, has paid dividends. Right? So now, because I know all the technologies and let's say it's the BMS and the lighting control and metering systems or whatever.

I literally take the use cases. And I embed them in that section of the spec. Right. As in, in addition to the division 25, which is the glue that would bring it together. Mm-hmm, . So these are your outcomes and these are the people you have to integrate with. And these, and this is the manner in which I want, um, shared [00:20:00] information.

I want, you know, if we're talking about power, I want it in Watts. I don't want it in vault dance. I don't want KVA. I don't want KW. That's what I want. Um, so that even that normalization gives me an opportunity that I'm doing in the spec nine times outta 10, when you know, these systems are being procure.

The stuff I'm asking for is, uh, sure, sure. Yeah, because it's the greater buy that they're interested in. Right? Mm-hmm I wanna sell you the Poe lighting, or I wanna sell you the, the switch gear. I wanna sell you these other pieces. You want that? And that gives me the contract. I'm good. You know, I want the, you know, the open APIs.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever the moment I sign that. Okay. That's a different story. And the expectation that if you do it as a performance, All the teams are gonna come together. Okay. And just do it on their own. Cuz they're all gonna play. Nice. Doesn't happen. Doesn't happen. They're Mo they're, they're motivated to close out the job [00:21:00] as quickly as they can.

Yeah. And unless it's actually in the job, you know, articulated clearly it becomes a problem. Okay.

[00:21:09] James Dice: So how do you get from, so remember you said what the three things that a use case is earlier, you said I'm doing this. In this particular place with this tool or something like that with this

[00:21:19] Charlie Buscarino: technology, right?

Yeah. So what do I wanna do? Where do I wanna do it? And what am I using in order to do that?

[00:21:24] James Dice: Yeah. So how do you get from there into what you put in the spec? Because I'd imagined that, that those three things is not enough to pin down a contractor when they're trying to

[00:21:34] Charlie Buscarino: finish their checklist. Right? So we've, we've been doing this enough that when we bring the use cases and we bring 'em to the client, the, the interesting thing.

Most of our clients don't know what they want. They can tell you, they can't articulate what is meaningful to them, but they can tell you what is meaningful if you give it to them. Yeah. Mm-hmm, , that's a must have, that's a like to have someday maybe, or that doesn't apply. Yeah. So we bring hundreds of use cases, [00:22:00] right?

Mm-hmm and because we're bringing the use cases, we have embedded in them. These are the technologies required to deliver those use cases. Mm-hmm . Now, if I know that I have to do a reservation system or a food ordering system, I look at every use case that has food ordering tied to it or reservations mm-hmm

Those are the use cases that get embedded into the spec. So you need to support your system needs to support and deliver this information for these outcomes. Okay. Okay. Working with. These other technologies. Got it. Got it.

[00:22:34] James Dice: So, so it might say something along lines of, like you said, you need to pass this or, or make available the wattage

[00:22:41] Charlie Buscarino: information, like you said earlier, and you'll be measured on this outcome right.

To, to make sure that's when you're that's when you check the box and you say you're good. Got it. Got it.

[00:22:51] James Dice: Okay. Let's go back to division 25. I don't know how much on this podcast. We're a hundred plus episodes in we've actually dove into someone can correct me if [00:23:00] I'm wrong. I don't think we've dove into division 25 very often or very much at all.

So can you just talk about what division 25 is to begin with? What, what is that? So,

[00:23:10] Charlie Buscarino: so division 25 is the integration section of the CSI specifications, right. And it really is intended to, um, extend across all the divisions to identify the, kind of the rules of engage. All right. And so this is the part that, that we're leveraging to kind of set those ground rules.

Okay. Um, you know, what are the, what's the, and it follows the same CSI methodology of, um, you know, what's the product. What is the, you know, the execution, what are the outcomes? How do they get measured? Those types of things, the, the data sharing and so on, you know, there are, there are certain levels that you can go to in division 25 because you're, you're putting it out to bid.

Right? So I don't have a hard, hard spec. I have hard outcomes. Okay, per se on [00:24:00] what I, what I want. Okay. And I have the, the expected partners that need to work together in order to do that. Okay. And I have a clear understanding of what I want submitted. All right. And how they're gonna be measured. Um, but to some extent I have to leave some latitude mm-hmm because.

You know, again, it's you don't know exactly who you're gonna bring to the table, uh, specifically where you can en otherwise you'd be as you're just specifying it outta the gate. Yeah. So you're taking

[00:24:29] James Dice: your use cases and you're, you're inserting them into each individual trades specification. What do you then insert into the division 25?

From all of their use

[00:24:40] Charlie Buscarino: cases, it basically creates the ground rules in which that that trade needs to now interate and, and the methodology in which they coordinate and integrate, um, with the other trades. Now, the expectation on projects like this is that there is an MSI. Okay. And so the, the integration piece and the division [00:25:00] 25 typically is focused on him.

Mm-hmm but what it does is. Rather than if the trades went out by themselves, it creates an obligation of the trade to, to play ball. Okay. To play nice with him to make it happen. It gives us some teeth. Um, the other thing that, that helps in having all this and, and particularly the use cases is it helps the GCs.

One of the, one of the things that we found is there's no, Doesn't make sense to try to teach the traditional trades to how to do something new. Okay. It's just, it's just too much. It's too much of a lift, right? Yeah. That's fair. It's too much. So what we, what we look to do is we have the ability to translate, to have them do what they do.

Okay. And execute what they're really good. Okay. And then create expectations on how they have to share what they're [00:26:00] doing with others. Hmm. Okay. And that's really where the MSI comes in. Got it. But what he often doesn't have is because the, you know, the, the traditional building systems have already gone out.

He comes in late, it's a performance spec. He's trying to corral cats and you kind of get half a loaf by moving it up front. Okay. And getting everybody obligated to deliver those. Um, you're really setting up the, the MSI for success and you're, you're, you're setting up in a way in which the GC he's able to track.

Did it get done? Didn't get done whose responsibility is it? What's the matter in which that happens and create more of a framework in which all the trades can operate. The way in which they're accustomed to

[00:26:47] James Dice: got it. So basically what I'm hearing from you is you're just taking, you're kind of leaving the traditional construction process in place.

If we assume that traditional construction process even has a division 25 to [00:27:00] begin. Right. Right, right, right, right. But you're, you're basically inserting smart into all of these different ways in which people are already planning on

[00:27:08] Charlie Buscarino: doing things. It's a little covert, but you know, and even, not necessarily tell everybody that, that that's what they're.

Yeah. Yeah, I love it. All right. Um, and with that, you know, and again, I'm, I'm not, I don't wanna oversimplify it. Mm-hmm, , it's still work. It's just still a lot of effort, you know, um, the granularity that you need to get to, but what we found is that's the path of least resistance. Okay. Um, in an effort to, to help people do what they do well without, um, disrupting them without getting price inflation.

You know where people say, oh, it's a smart building. I gotta add 25%. You know, those types of things. No, just look, here's what we need you to do. Yeah.

[00:27:51] James Dice: Yeah. How about for, so you mentioned your, your term enabling technologies. I like to think about that a lot, uh, as like the device [00:28:00] layer or the, you know, the silos that are, have always been in our buildings

[00:28:04] Charlie Buscarino: essentially.

Right, right. Um,

[00:28:07] James Dice: how do you think about making sure that. Leaving it open to the GC to select whatever contractor they wanna select to implement that piece. Right. How do you think about putting the requirements for those systems and products that they're gonna end up selecting?

[00:28:24] Charlie Buscarino: I would say we try not to leave them open to their own devices.

You know, we wanna have some well, because what happens is either items get V. You know, and because again, we, we kind of tucked it in there, but they need to withstand, and there's certain items that need to, you know, see the light of day. Um, so I wouldn't say that is it's, you know, kind of a blank. Um, but it is the criteria.

The ability to meet the use cases is part of the foundational criteria of selecting a vendor mm-hmm and often it will come down to, Hey, they can do eight of 10. But they're also the most, you know, [00:29:00] they're or, and then the most expensive, or, you know, so pricing and feature set. And so on comes part of that blend of decision making.

Got it. Saying how important are these things, but the nice thing is it's in the discussion as opposed to they selected it based on a generic feature set and, um, and pricing and you miss out. And the other interesting thing is if it's done, right, I'm not over. Hmm. I know what I need. So I'm, I'm not, you know, in the absence of that, I'm, I'm buying the most flexible, the most feature rich the most, you know, um, you know, uh, points that I can buy on it.

I may not need them. Yeah. All right. So I'm really zeroing in, you know, what's what's right for this project. Got it.

[00:29:47] James Dice: And where do the, the technologies that are sort of not those traditional device layer technologies come in. So, I mean, I'm thinking about things like, uh,

[00:29:58] Charlie Buscarino: tenant mobile application

[00:29:59] James Dice: [00:30:00] or,

[00:30:00] Charlie Buscarino: um, You mentioned

[00:30:02] James Dice: FDD earlier.

That's not typically somebody's responsibility to provide that all of those application layer things that enable our use cases. Right. Mm-hmm where do those come into the process? Um, how do you sort of insert those into the traditional traditional

[00:30:17] Charlie Buscarino: world? Yeah, so. In the models in which we've been doing okay.

Or the project we've been doing when there's a, when there's a critical mass of integration that you're gonna look to do mm-hmm um, and it could be physical on prem as well as the virtual ones that we're, that we're talking about. Um, if we think about, uh, the converge network as being the integration of, you know, the, the physical endpoint devices, we really look to an IOT.

Okay. Uh, the likes of, you know, there's, there's folks out there, um, to be that application level integration. Okay. But the idea that, and, and that's really the, the, the foundation in which we're looking to, I don't wanna say future proof, but it creates that [00:31:00] flexible, um, mechanism for a single integration, um, sharing data, uh, creating, you know, uh, measuring KPIs, creating dashboards.

And then when you look at a mobile app, the mobile app is also yet another application that gets plugged into that. Got it or extracting data and so on. And there are, there are exceptions and so on, but for the, you know, fundamentally that's the, um, the, the, the core of mm-hmm of the overall integration.

Okay. And so we've been, we've been pushing those types of solutions in the, um, in the, the designs that we've been doing. Yeah. So

[00:31:34] James Dice: it's a, it's a horizontal architecture as I've been writing about. So you're, you're saying it's. Traditional device layer network layer on top IOT platform. That's responsible for basically centralizing data, storing some sort of ontology or semantic model, and then sort of enabling applications to

[00:31:55] Charlie Buscarino: sit on top.

So back to our previous question, the division 25, the division [00:32:00] 25 really becomes about that IOT platform. Got it. Uh, the MSI, the application capabilities, and now creates responsibility. Not only for the, for the, the standing up of the application and the integration mm-hmm, but also to the other trades that are gonna tie into it.

Okay. And so now that spec can be a virtual requirement or a traditional building system requirement. Got it.

[00:32:23] James Dice: Got it. And so then thei is responsible for then procuring the IOT platform, or how does that. And, and I guess the applications as well, who,

[00:32:32] Charlie Buscarino: who buys, so it varies, right? It varies. So, um, there are certain ones that it would make sense for him to just do them turnkey mm-hmm

Um, but there are ones where if you're talking about a reservation system or, or, or a mail system or the food services, you know, the owner has, you know, a significant state, you wouldn't have your MSI procure those. Yeah. But what we'll do and what we've done, uh, which has been successful is. In the construction [00:33:00] process.

If I have my traditional SDDD CD and so on mm-hmm I will accelerate what I'll call my digital ecosystem process. Okay. So that I'm complete with design ideally around 50% CDs. Okay. Okay. And if I can actually procure and bring on the Ms. So that, so not only are my use cases embedded in the, in the trades.

Okay. The traditional trades. Okay. Because we haven't issued CDs yet. Yeah. Right. But now when it comes time to do the bid and evaluation, the MSI is at the table as well. Mm-hmm and he can speak to his experience with this vendor or this application and so on. Um, and so we can get a sense of complexity as opposed to potentially burdening him when with, with a solution that was select.

Which doesn't work so well. Yeah. Okay. Or creates some, some grief. Got it, got it again. It's it's around, uh, [00:34:00] setting the table for his success, which ultimately is the project success mm-hmm got

[00:34:05] James Dice: on

that, I guess. I've been writing a lot about this concept of the independent data layer. So mm-hmm, , it's like there's a lot of overlap between IOT platform, independent data layer, building operating system, like all these different terms really they're there for that middle data layer. Right, right. In this horizontal architecture, mm-hmm in your mind, you've seen these, these platforms being procured a lot recently.

On these projects, what are you seeing in that world of the smart building marketplace and kind of what makes that layer

[00:34:42] Charlie Buscarino: successful? It's I would say the market's not mature. Okay. Yeah. No, I don't think I'm telling anybody that, anything new. Okay. Yeah. And so it's, we are typically stretching the folks that we engage to do that work.

Mm-hmm [00:35:00] okay. Um, the fundamental foundational pieces are. Right. I mean, and we've seen them being used, you know, and, and, you know, the traditional players in, you know, like a quadri building or, or other, or other buildings where they're pulling those pieces together and they tend to be around the traditional building systems.

Mm-hmm okay. The elements are the same. Okay. But now we're, we're raising the bar a little bit to bring in some of these virtual systems. Okay. Which weren't traditionally integrated, um, to create a different level of KPIs. To create a different level of, of user engagement on the mobile app and immersion.

Um, and so, you know, we, we stretch them and we look to see how much they think they can handle and what the trajectory is to get there. Mm-hmm um, and then we have to have, you know, if you're partnering with them, you have to have a realistic conversation on how far can we go? Does it phase what are MVP?

Those types of things. Got it. Okay. Yeah, but [00:36:00] fundamentally, if you look at a long term, whether you're dealing with trying to embrace an enterprise that has new and existing buildings, okay. Or whether or not you are, you know, you're looking to scale what you have to, the properties you have, the architecture makes sense.

Right? Because even in an existing building, I don't necessarily care what my security system is so long as it shares the. If it's existing and it can share the data. I'm good. I don't necessarily have to go across my entire enterprise and change out that vendor. Yeah. Got that type of thing. So that's the mindset behind it.

So how do you think about in that

[00:36:32] James Dice: layer, given that it's not very mature, right? How do you think about it? As the, you know, the software product and it's

[00:36:42] Charlie Buscarino: maturing and then the

[00:36:43] James Dice: MSI and they're sort of not mature. Like they're, there's not a whole lot of them that are just very mature and they're, you know, you know, I've been doing this MSI work for a decade.

There's not a lot of people that can say that at this point.

[00:36:57] Charlie Buscarino: Right? No. So you have these two

[00:36:59] James Dice: things [00:37:00] that are, that are sometimes separate, but sometimes they come together as one. Right. Right. How do, how do you, like, how are you advising your clients right now to. Maybe procure the services that are either integrated, like, um, you're buying them together as a turnkey thing, or are you advising them to procure an agnostic MSI that will procure any IOT platform and can work on any IOT platform you see where I'm going

[00:37:26] Charlie Buscarino: with that?

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So have to be, so we've sent out the way we've done it is we've sent out the RFP to the MSI mm-hmm okay. Okay. And he knows the task. And let him select, you know, again, we'll, we'd be part of that, but let him focus on who he wants to partner with. I mean, we'll buy both in the RFP process.

Mm-hmm let him team and decide the one that's gonna, that's gonna bring the most success to the project. Okay. Got, I don't really think you can decouple them at this point. They're so they [00:38:00] need to be a match. Where the MSI is leveraging a platform that he's familiar with. Mm-hmm and a partner that he can work with to, to realize the outcomes that we're looking for.

Yeah. Um, so that's, that's the way we've chosen to do it, as opposed to we make the marriage and they say, look, you know, we were never meant to be together. Yeah. Yeah. That's not a good formula. That's interesting.

[00:38:25] James Dice: I'm working on this. We had one of our members present on the three types of MSI and he was talking about how he prefers an agnostic MSI.

So I, it sounds like he has found them wherever they are at some, some point, but he was saying that if I, if I buy them both together, um, number one, I have a hard time firing one or the other. Right. Um, right. But he was also saying, um, You have these software providers that are only doing MSI work so that they can get their software application installed and procured and that kind of thing.[00:39:00]

Right. I just think it's an interesting point where we're at in, in the industry to ha to be viewing those things as, as one thing, even though right now, like there is a service being provided and then there's software. Oh,

[00:39:14] Charlie Buscarino: they're definitely, they're definitely separate. Okay. Right, right. The question is, am I better suit?

To couple them together, at least the perspective we've taken, you know, am I better suited to couple the, those who would work together better than if I bid them separately and kind of impose one or the other on each. Oh, I see.

[00:39:34] James Dice: Yeah, I see it. Yeah. It's, it's just an interesting project by project thing at this point, it seems like to me, fascinating,

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[00:40:33] James Dice: I feel like there's more that you can share around the division 25 piece.

Um, so division 25 from my experience has always been kind of, you know, this is a long time ago. I, I, when I was actually working on construction projects, right. A long time ago, Division 25 was like either totally ignored as an option or when it was done. It was like written by the controls, like the mechanical engineer, um, wrote the controls [00:41:00] designs.

And so they wrote the division 25 as well. And it was kind of this BMS centric thing that most of the time it got awarded to the controls contractor anyway. Right. Um, mm-hmm can you talk about like what the new world of division 25, besides the MSI role? How are like in today's projects, how are they integrating with all the other, all the other trades?

I feel like there's more to

[00:41:26] Charlie Buscarino: unpack there. Well, you're your, your history of how it works is the same experience that I've had. Right. Okay. So it became the control spec. And I would say that there was a mindset that even until recently the BMS was the building operating. Okay, right? Yeah. So that mindset would reinforce why the controls would be part of division 25.

Cause that is the building op and there's projects that we've seen go on the market today, where the perspective is the control system in the BMS is the building operating system. Mm-hmm [00:42:00] um, so I would say that's still in the process of. Transforming. And, and we are often in a, in an awkward place sometimes depending on the timing of the project.

And when we get in that that's already been claimed, you know, division 25 has been claimed is a control spec and it's gone out. Right. So in which case we write, you know, and we'll embedded into some other section of a spec or whatever, but it, in the going forward idea where the BMS is. App, potentially even an application.

Okay. On the IOT platform. Yeah. That gets integrated. And if you flip that conversation to say, I'm not gonna take my lighting and put it into my BMS, I'm you know, those other disparate systems that would traditionally connect into a BMS mm-hmm, go into the platform. The platform becomes the building operating system.

Then I think, you know, that was the original intent of division 20. Yeah. Okay. To be that ubiquitous [00:43:00] integration, um, placeholder that describes to everybody. Here's how it's supposed to work. Mm-hmm okay. Um, Each project has its own trajectory. Okay. Each engineer has their own templates and so on. So it's still a little squishy, but we're, you know, from our perspective, if we can go there and claim that and set that as the foundation, then you'd have a control section spec that would have its use cases embedded in it.

Mm-hmm and it would refer back to division 25. Got it. Got it. Fascinating.

[00:43:35] James Dice: Where does, um, Commissioning come in. And if, if I take this back to my experience again, commissioning has traditionally been all about the BMS all about, mostly about HVAC. Um, a little bit about passing data from here to there, but mostly not mostly around just, Hey, let's commission this HVAC system to make sure it's as designed.

Right. Right. But now we have all these buildings that [00:44:00] have, you know, every trade has a very sophisticated control system. And then there's this IOT platform sitting on top. So. What's the commissioning agent's role, if there's a separate one. um, and does the MSI do some of that work? How do you, how do you think about commissioning?

So if you go back

[00:44:17] Charlie Buscarino: to that philosophy of, we don't want to change the momentum of the trades mm-hmm okay. So. The way this model lays itself out is every system still stands alone or has the ability to stand alone and be fully functional mm-hmm so we would expect, and it's a layered approach, right? So the security system, the visitor management, the BMS resume, they all have to pass their own traditional commissioning, you know, be blessed and we're good to go.

Yeah. Okay. Then we have an IOT integration, commissioning. Okay. What is the da, is the data being transmitted, you know, is it being received? Is it consistent, you know, our ability to store it? Is it formatted? Right? Is it matching the [00:45:00] ontology, et cetera. Okay. Um, and then lastly, because a lot of this is around the user interface, you know, there is a mobile app probably discussion more so than you would have with say reservation system or something like that.

Right. Because there's, there's a, you know, a human factor associated. And so I think there ends up being more, um, Naval gazing around that experience, cuz you're really about managing the experience, which can have a ripple effect back down the chain got, you know, got it. If we have the right data, how are we sharing it?

You know, what's the timing of it, that type of thing. So we tip, uh, we've been looking at least in our experience, we've been looking at it in three layers. I think what we've found the most interesting is the idea of there's five work stream. For example, right. That aren't necessarily intuitive until you break them down front.

Right. So I have my straight up construction when, when [00:46:00] when's my floors gonna be ready when my closets gonna be ready, when am gonna have power, etcetera, etcetera. Right then end, when am I gonna have my network? Right. So I need, I need the network in order to do the integration and so on and so forth, then do I have my IOT platform, right?

Because that's another level of integr. Then my vendors, all my various vendors that are tied, where do they stand and how do they tied in, and then that mobile app mm-hmm . And so when you lay those out, when you start looking at the interdependencies between these. Oh, yeah. And even the, even the, the, the work style changes.

Right. So when I'm talking to the mobile app guys or the IOT guys, they're like, well, look, we are, you know, we're an agile house and this is how we operate. Okay. But when I look at an adjacent work stream, it's waterfall, right? So you can be agile all day so long as you complete it within these brackets.

cause at the conclusion of that, I need you to spill over into the next tranche of work. So [00:47:00] those have been lessons learned on, you know, how do you bring these groups together in a way in which you can now project. Dependencies all the way through to the end. Hmm.

[00:47:10] James Dice: Okay. And then are, are you guys as the consultant taking responsibility for that piece?

[00:47:16] Charlie Buscarino: So we are, you know, we're not the MSI, but we end up, you know, we, you know, we get really more close than I'm comfortable with. Okay. And having to yeah. Orchestrate how this is gonna succeed. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Um, and our scars are showing us where there are bump. So we can really put pressure where we need them to happen.

Mm-hmm um, so we can have, uh, you know, the outcomes that we're looking for.

[00:47:42] James Dice: Yeah. Cause I could see it would be difficult, you know, the MSI and the smart building, the consultant, there could be a lot of overlap there. There could be dropoffs in between the two. Yeah. If

[00:47:53] Charlie Buscarino: ideal, there could be landlines there, there could.

And I think we have the [00:48:00] challenging role of being an advocate for the owner. And the MSI mm-hmm all right. So, you know, there's a tendency, you know, you know, to look at shiny things, right. To look at the, the mobile app and when will that be ready? And when can we play with it and so on, but that doesn't function until the IOT platform stood up.

Mm-hmm so let's not lose focus. Let's put all our energy in the IOT platform. Let's get that up and running and stood up and share our data and know we got the foundation, we'll do development and, and gooeys. And so on, on the mobile. But let's not, let's not, you know, lose sight of the sequence in which things need to happen.

Yeah. Yeah, totally.

[00:48:40] James Dice: So. I think I've, I've exhausted you with these questions. Thank you for

[00:48:45] Charlie Buscarino: going deep into this process. I hope that people enjoy, Hey, wake up, wake up. hope people enjoy the, the,

[00:48:53] James Dice: the complexity of what is a construction project and integrating technology into that. It's tough.

[00:48:58] Charlie Buscarino: It's really tough.

I think, I think [00:49:00] the fundamental is. And then when we, when we start down this journey, we go to events where you heard stories of smart buildings and smart campuses. And so. And it was enterprise customers who had, you know, uh, large teams, large budgets. Okay. And they were able to, you know, pull or go down a journey of pulling these things together.

Mm-hmm and our perspective was it shouldn't be for just the, uh, super large enterprise customers, you know, there's enough critical mass and systems we're buying anyway. Mm-hmm that at whatever level is comfortable. You should be able to benefit from integration capabilities without having to be dependent on a particular vendor or solution that you now beholden to.

Yeah. Um, and so we looked at it as our role to find a methodology, which we, we call expert, you know, find a methodology in which that could be [00:50:00] done with confidence in a way that could be articulated to the stakeholders. Not just, not necessarily just the construction or tech savvy. Customers. Yeah. And so that's, that's kind of the mission that we set out to, to do love it.


[00:50:18] James Dice: Love it. Do you have any stories of particular projects or case studies you can share that would be kind of pulled this all together into a cohesive, fun story to end off

[00:50:29] Charlie Buscarino: with? So what we have found. Okay. And it's we talk about the technology. We love the technology. Um, The hardest part is, is communicating it to the people.

Right. So there was a project that we were brought in on and it's, and it's the, it's the dialogue and the narrative. And so we were brought in a very high profile project and we're the second guys to be brought in. Right. The, the first guys, you know, didn't make it, they, they said, who do you know, we're brought [00:51:00] in and they like us.

Okay. And we're, we're, we're working on the project, but we're not click. Okay. We're not, we're not clicking. I mean, it's, we're not using the same language. You know, this, this, this company is very type a right. Where do we stand? What are we doing? Can we move this faster? How come it's taken so long, you know?

And we're in the early days of our journeys. And so we're trying to make sure we got 'em right. Make sure we got 'em complete and they'll be thorough. And, and it's just not. And so the, the folks who brought me. They said, listen, you know, we, we understand, you know, look, we love you. If you were to walk away now, no one would, would fault you for it.

And I'm like, what? That's, that's not even my, but the, I said, no. I said, this client, this client is every client I will ever meet. It is, it is their post. And what it's really about is, and what I learned is it's about their. They're [00:52:00] going down a road. Okay. Where you can't look at 50 of them. Okay. You know, they have, they wanna, they don't wanna make a leap of faith.

They wanna know that when they get to the end, okay. That there's a mechanism that they can follow and track and it's meaningful. And they can see that and manage their own destiny. And know if it's going off the rails. What we realized is it's that engagement that was as important as. The technology and what we're gonna bring them on the back end to manage and instill confidence that we have a method that, and so we spent a lot of time.

Now they're a great customer. We've, we've done tremendous work with them. We've been with them for a long time and we got past that, but it was the understanding of they're not being difficult. I need to understand and communicate their anxieties. Get ahead of it [00:53:00] and now help them understand the journey we're gonna take.

And how we're gonna get there so they can, they can do it with confidence. And is it,

[00:53:08] James Dice: is it just the fact that you guys have a process and it has produced outcomes in the past that needs to be communicated to them to leave these anxieties? I think it's

[00:53:19] Charlie Buscarino: starts. I think it starts there. Okay. Right. The fact that, okay, you've, we're not your first, when you're not cutting your teeth on us.

You're not, but I also think that everyone comes to the convers. With their own agenda. Not, not in a bad way. Yeah. They have things that they need to get out of this. Right. So it's also being nimble enough to understand what leasing's concerns are, what marketing's concerns are, what HR, what facilities, what operations and so on.

And frankly, they're the experts. We have a lot of knowledge on how to assemble these things together and put them together. But when it comes to the outcomes that are gonna be [00:54:00] meaningful for their organization, mm-hmm, , they're the experts, right? So it's creating a forum in which they can positively contribute.

Okay. So that we make sure that their knowledge gets embedded into the solution and doesn't get lost. So, you know, we, we're a facilitator. We're not, you know, they're, they're creating their own smart. We're helping them get there. Okay. And once we do in the beginning, they can track it all the way through the nice thing about it is that process creates stickiness because when they know that they've been heard and they know it's embedded in the project and many smart buildings fail along the journey.

Right. But when they know that what they need in order to be successful is in the process, their advocates for it. to make sure it stays there. And so that's where you get the stickiness to say, no, you can't VE that. Okay. No, no, we need that. That's important. And, and so versus what was that for again? Why do we have that?

Mm-hmm so, you know, it, it, it pays dividend, but that's, [00:55:00] that's our that's our value add is to help them build their smart building. With confidence. Yeah. Totally

[00:55:10] James Dice: love it. Well, thanks Charlie. I feel like I've learned a lot here. Let's end with some carve outs. Um, what book? TV show, movie podcast, cetera, et cetera.

Cetera. Would you recommend that the audience checks out?

[00:55:23] Charlie Buscarino: Look I'm really corny. I'm I'm I was always from a kid. I was a fan of star Trek. Okay. Okay. And so that's first. Yeah. So, uh, when I look. I'm always, I'm always fascinated by the art of the possible, right? And you start looking at just things on TV that just make perfect sense that today, you know, you, you know, why can't we do that?

And so those, those things that should just be natural and seamless, where you, you move through your life in a way in which the technology does what you need it to do. [00:56:00] Okay. Is I would say more of an inspir. As to how do I, how do I help advance this journey? Mm-hmm, in a way that the journey itself doesn't cause friction, ideally, and then the outcomes.

I mean, it's gonna cause something, but then the outcomes, you know, um, reduce friction. Got it. And is

[00:56:19] James Dice: that, is that I'm not a big star Trek person. Is that relevant? Is star Trek relevant to that message somehow? How

[00:56:27] Charlie Buscarino: how's that work? Well, I just look at the environment and the ecosystem that exists in, in, you know, that world.

Okay. Yeah. Um, where they lean on the technology to do incredible things. Right. Yeah. And it's there, there's just a lot of technology and so on, but it supplements. Their lifestyle. You don't see them say, oh, I gotta reboot, you know that right. I mean, there's crisis and so on. But if you look at that ecosystem yeah.

Um, it serves the occupant. Love it, love it. And so that's what I, that's the filter that I look at that show through. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:56:59] James Dice: And it sounds [00:57:00] like a filter you're looking through

[00:57:01] Charlie Buscarino: at that buildings too. Absolutely. Yeah.

[00:57:05] James Dice: That's awesome. All right. Well, thanks again. Thanks for coming on the show. It's great to chat.

[00:57:09] Charlie Buscarino: All right. Thank you.