7 min read

#32: the water we swim in

Cheers to BIG, climate plan to fund smart buildings?, and a new introductory section
"I think there's two different types of pilots here: there’s a lazy pilot where you might learn something; and then there's the I'm-going-to-scale-up-if-this-is-successful-based-on-these-criteria pilot."

—Friendly rants volume 2: the first step to nowhere

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. 🤔 On my mind this week: Cheers to BIG

  2. 📚 What I’m reading

  3. 💡New from Nexus

  4. 🧐New to me

  5. 🧱Foundations


☝️ 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. 🤔 On my mind this week

Last week, I was lucky enough to participate in a virtual meeting with the Chicago Chapter of the Building Intelligence Group (BIG-CHI) as the guest speaker. It was such a fun conversation!

One topic we discussed was the biggest opportunities for our industry. BIG is trying to tackle one of those: knocking down silos. Kudos to everyone involved for coming together across traditional lines of division and trying to move the market forward.

If you haven’t heard of BIG before, there are currently chapters in the Twin Cities and Chicago. Other cities are in the works. They get together monthly to discuss our industry, usually over a few 🍺. You can reach out to these gentlemen for more info:

Cheers! 🍻

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

2. 📚 What I’m reading


Site-Level NMEC and the Impacts of COVID: Many smart building platforms have measurement & verification (M&V) applications or algorithms. As I wrote about in June, those apps were likely not prepared for the COVID era. In response to that newsletter, M&V expert David Jump from kW Engineering in California sent me this blog post. It seems like the M&V experts are hard at work adapting M&V best practices and will make recommendations to the industry soon. (kW Engineering)

“Data on building occupancy is rarely available at the frequency used in an advanced M&V model (such as hourly or daily). Also, if the driver of energy use does not change substantially over the period an energy model was developed, it does not help ‘explain’ the energy use. In other words, it doesn’t have a valid statistical “link” with energy use.”

If you’re wanting to follow these efforts, Matt Golden and the team at Recurve are others to follow (besides David).


Technology procurement challenges for ‘smart building’ developers and operators: How the role of the master system integrator (MSI) is likely to change as smart building technology becomes more prevalent. (Corrs Chambers Westgarth)

“Although engagements with MSIs are likely to continue to involve significant consulting work on an hourly rate basis, and piecemeal integration projects, the trend in MSI engagements for truly integrated building systems will shift towards outsourcing end-to-end responsibility for all building technology, both in the delivery and operations stages.”

My reaction: The split between consultant and turnkey contractor allows for unbiased design decisions and tech specs. Can that independence be maintained as the MSI expands their scope?


SAP Cloud for Real Estate integrates with Honeywell Forge autonomous buildings platform to help improve energy efficiency in buildings: SAP’s Cloud platform is an enterprise software product used by large companies to track real estate financial data.  (TechTarget)

"You're getting energy costs, usage and things relative to devices from Honeywell Forge, but you're tracking spending and paying bills on the SAP side," Morey said. "One without the other doesn't give you the value, but together they give you context and data to achieve that value."


What Most Of The PropTech Industry Gets Wrong About Tenant Experience: Prasan Kale, CEO of Rise Buildings, on how tenant engagement platform developers are backward in how they’re attempting to create tech-enabled experiences. (Forbes)

Only once they are using the technology for things they can’t do elsewhere, such as registering visitors, booking amenities or submitting a work order, can you invite them to use that same platform to do things they might do elsewhere, like talk to each other or purchase goods and services.


Other pertinent news from just (a bit) outside the smart buildings industry:

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.

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3. 💡 New from NEXUS


🎧#012: Friendly rants volume 2: the first step to nowhere: Episode #12 of the Nexus podcast is volume two of a fun new series called Friendly Rants with my friend Dennis Krieger. This episode was a conversation about our experience with smart building pilot projects. If you’ve ever had a pilot that didn’t go anywhere, you’ll enjoy it. (Pro members only)

"I think that there's two different types of pilots here: there’s a lazy pilot where you might learn something; and then there's the I'm-going-to-scale-up-if-this-is-successful-based-on-these-criteria pilot."


The energy management hierarchy of needs: I was recently asked to explain the competitive landscape for energy efficiency and advanced supervisory control platforms. I decided to frame the conversation from the perspective of the building owner. (Pro members only)

“If I want to reduce the energy consumption of my portfolio, what options do I have? Among those options, which are simpler, cheaper, or more foundational? Which of the options enable the others?

Enter: the hierarchy of needs.”

As you’ll see, the hierarchy represents not only the available energy conservation options, but also a roadmap. Go deeper.


4. 🧐New to me

Even though the Nexus Vendor Landscape has over 100 vendors on it, I still learn about new companies to track every week.

Here are this week’s discoveries:

  1. Inteliglas—advanced supervisory control platform targeting small/medium size office buildings

Vanti—MSI based in the UK that put on a nice webinar with Memoori. Vanti talked about the Smart Core Foundation, a non-profit they founded to create open-source smart building specifications and an open-source independent data layer (or building operating system) called Smart Core Building OS:

The Smart Core Building OS is an operating system (like Microsoft Windows or Apple’s MacOS) specifically built for buildings. It promotes a distributed architecture, an abstraction layer and common tools through which to deploy applications offering specific functionality to people who use or need to maintain physical spaces. The focus of the OS is to enable integrations to happen quickly and consistently rather than offering libraries of pre-built and potentially unsuitable drivers.

5. 🧱 Foundations

As we inch closer to launching an introductory course, this section of the newsletter will provide links to introductory-ish content that might help someone new to the industry understand this week’s newsletter, podcast, or deep dive. As you can see, the water we swim in is quite deep.

  • Supervisory devices perform some set of these functions: Displaying graphics, exposing field level points, hosting system-level control sequences and programs, storing and displaying trends, coordinating time of day and calendar scheduling, and creating and displaying alarms.
  • What is supervisory control vs. advanced supervisory control? (Pro members only)
  • What is a Building OS? (Vayan Data) I think this article reflects what most people mean when they say the term Building OS and covers the data layer topic too. Unfortunately, Lucid has the term Building OS trademarked and their platform doesn’t meet the intent of the term. Confusing, I know.
  • Pros and cons of the concept
  • Typically this is a mobile app for occupants that provides some combo of access control, service requests, guest management, room bookings, building push notifications, amenities, events, and more.
  • Vendors in this space dream of creating Frank’s Perfect Day (Tieto)

More details on the course are coming soon, but if you know someone (like a client or a new employee) that might be interested, 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.

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