5 min read

#31: Lessons I wish I learned in year one

Course outline, a new interoperability alliance, and more digital twin news

Good morning!

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

Here’s an outline of this week’s newsletter:

  1. 🤔 Lessons I wish I learned in year one

  2. 📚 What I’m reading

  3. 💡 New from Nexus


☝️ Disclaimer: James is a researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). All opinions expressed via Nexus emails, podcasts, or on the website belong solely to James. No resources from NREL are used to support Nexus. NREL does not endorse or support any aspect of Nexus.

1. 🤔 Lessons I wish I learned in year one

It’s good to be back! I spent a day of my vacation last week brainstorming what an introductory course on smart building technology might look like. It was fun—this was what the wall of my hotel room looked like:

Then, a day later, I was up at 12,000 feet with my buddies:

And yes, those little specs in the foreground by the snow are people. The climb was steep…

With the course design, I was drawn to the core ideas I’ve learned in my 10 years in our industry that I wish someone would have told me in my first year. How do we cut the learning curve by 10x?

That might be a steep goal, but we can try. Here’s an initial outline:

  • The NEXUS Mindset: preparing yourself for the smart buildings journey and the four components of a smart building program: Technology, People, Processes, Finances.
  • The Smart Building Scorecard: why we need smart buildings, what makes a building smart, and scoring a building’s intelligence.
  • The NEXUS Framework (Technology): the foundations of smart buildings technology (overview of system types, connectivity, architectures, and capabilities) and using a simple framework to evaluate them.
  • Jobs to be Done (People): Understanding the people involved in a smart building, their use cases, and aligning incentives.
  • The Smart Building Roadmap (Processes): the smart building project lifecycle and creating a short and long term roadmap.
  • How To Pay For It (Finances): Aligning smart building tech financial models with the financial models of owners of each type of building.
  • Advanced Technologies: overview of cutting edge technologies and how to stay up to date with the rapid pace of change.

More details are coming soon, but if you know someone that might be interested in this course, email me: james@nexuslabs.online.

If your company would like to contribute content to the course (without getting salesy), feel free to email me about that too. Contributors will get full attribution.

👉 If you enjoy reading NEXUS, feel free to share it with colleagues!

2. 📚 What I’m reading


Lendlease Picks Google Cloud To Run Podium, Its New Property Lifecycle Platform: Integrated property developer, builder, and owner Lendlease appear to have announced a new digital twin platform, developed in house and in partnership with Google Cloud. They’re calling it a “property lifecycle platform” and intend to sell it as-a-service outside of the Lendlease portfolio. (Which-50)

“Think in the context of the development of a commercial building. Previously, the vast bulk of decisions made throughout the property’s lifecycle have been made in isolation of each other. As a result of digitisation, everything from the orientation of the sun in winter, through to the train timetable for the station closest to the site, the way in which employees prefer to occupy space, down to the type of bolt used in floor joists will be able to be inputted into a “digital twin” and holistic decisions made before the first sod is turned on the project.”


A Digital Twin Perspective - Ballast Water Exchange: The Nexus podcast’s first guest, Nicolas Waern, just launched a new newsletter and podcast, Beyond Buildings. This first essay is a look at how digital twin tech can be applied in a vertical outside of smart buildings and how these same lessons apply for us. (Beyond Buildings)

“The world as we know it is still very much Plato’s Cave. We see all of these things happening but we don't understand the context. We can't form a cohesive shape to form our understanding because we have all different backgrounds and views of the future and the only thing we can do is to have opinions. The Digital Twin creates certainty out of uncertainty, allowing and enabling people to see the same things. To understand and demystify complexity between disciplines and industries and follow a red-thread through space and time. The room for philosophical reasoning will still be there, but it will all be around a Digital Twin.”


Technology Alliances Tackle Issue of Interoperability in Smart Buildings: While this article has a slightly over-ambitious title, it’s definitely worth checking out. It isn’t a new standard, thankfully, but an alliance between the existing standards orgs BACnet International, KNX Association, OCF, Thread Group, and the Zigbee Alliance. (Memoori)

This approach to remove connectivity barriers and provide true smart buildings is to converge lighting control and building management systems with IT networks into a secure all-IP-based configuration. With this convergence comes true IP networking making data of the various building automation application protocols accessible via an IP address (instead of an application protocol specific address).

The move to IP eliminates the need for hardware-based gateways and enables gateways between the systems to be pure software solutions since all devices communicate over a secure IP connection. This convergence also means that different physical IP layers can be used leading to integration of wired and wireless connectivity options to reduce installation costs.


Looking to Hire or Get Hired?: This is a very informative and balanced (“cautiously optimistic”) article about the health of the BAS industry by Nexus member Skip Freeman. (Automated Buildings)

Currently, there are 11,087 open BAS jobs. And that is only counting the posted ones. So, even though the total number of open jobs is cut by 42%, there are still eleven thousand openings! That’s a lot.

So, by no stretch of the imagination is it all “gloom and doom.”

Our industry is busy, and it is going to get busier with more buildings needing to install remote access, upgrade controls, improve ventilation, install UV for disinfection, improve data analytics, and so much more.

This installment of NEXUS is free for everyone. If you would like to get full access to all content, join the NEXUS Pro community. Members get exclusive access to the Nexus Vendor Landscape, monthly events, weekly deep dives, and all past deep dives.

Join NEXUS Pro

3. 💡 New from NEXUS

  • PODCAST—🎧#011: Cory Mosiman on the state of Haystack, Brick, and ASHRAE 223

    • Today, in buildings across the world, data is locked up and unable to be used. If we could use it, we could do things like help mitigate climate change, create healthier indoor environments, and automate our buildings is unable to be used.

    • People new to the industry often ask why that is… this conversation is part of that answer. We set aside the business reasons of vendor lock-in that have plagued the industry forever. Instead, we dove into the semantic interoperability problem and all of the efforts going on to solve it.

  • DEEP DIVE—Myth-busting and navigating the interoperability journey (Pro members only)

    • My reaction, top highlights, and the full transcript from the above conversation with Cory

OK, that’s all for this week—thanks for reading Nexus!