5 min read

#36: ✨ Nexus goes full time ✨

Let's work together; actual coronavirus sensors; the ROI of occupancy data
“This is an outstanding read & accurately describes the silo'd approach. (…)”

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Reader feedback on The BAS architecture of the future

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: Nexus is going full time!

  2. 📚 What I’m reading

  3. 💡 New from Nexus

  4. 🧐 New to me

  5. 🧱 Foundations


1. 🤔 On my mind this week: Nexus goes full time!

This week, I’m excited to announce a big transition. Over the next several weeks, I’m winding down my role at NREL to focus on Nexus full time.

This was a huge decision—it isn’t easy walking away from such a prestigious institution full of like-minded and mission-driven teammates. Thank you to all NRELians for such a great year and for doing what you do every day.

Thanks also to you, dear readers, for providing the feedback and encouragement I needed to keep going over the last 36 weeks of writing you these letters. Especially you Nexus Pro members who each gave me the nudge I needed to take the leap.


My core mission with Nexus remains the same: sharing what I learn without the fluff. But the Nexus mission is also growing. The more I learn, the more I see how much this industry needs to change. And I’m going to do everything I can to accelerate that change.

Join me

If you’d like to work together on that mission, here are a few ways you can join me:

  • Hire Nexus as a consultant—I’d love to work directly with you and your team! I’m already booked through the rest of Q3, but you can add your project to the waitlist for Q4 so you’ll be the first to know when I’m taking new clients.
  • Join Nexus Pro—The Pro membership is still my baby and the core of Nexus. As I learn and grow, the value of membership will grow too. 🙌 There’s still time to join and receive an invite to this month’s member gathering on 8/25, where I will facilitate a discussion and Q&A session on Matt Schwartz’s BAS architecture of the future.

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

2. 📚 What I’m reading (and watching)


Where things go wrong with smart buildings—In our new world full of webinars, this one from Memoori in July was outstanding. This week, I found myself revisiting it to borrow concepts for the Nexus Foundations course.

In particular, I love how Mike Brooman outlined the five stages of smartness and the implications of each:

Highly recommend and thanks to Mike and Memoori for doing this one.


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

These new sensors can detect coronavirus particles on your breath, instantly—Nian Sun, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern, is working on gas-sensing technology that could be a smart building gamechanger. (Northeastern University)

“Those are trained sniffer dogs, and they can do the job by just simply smelling,” Sun says. “So I thought, ‘why can’t we engineers design something like an electronic sensor that can beat that?’”

In more recent years, Sun and his colleagues have been working on other devices to sense airborne molecules and use them as biomarkers to screen for medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and lung cancer.

When the pandemic hit, he saw a new use for his technology.


The Building Blocks of an AI Strategy (Sloan Review)

Because AI is not a regular technology, the AI strategy needs to be approached differently than regular technology strategy. The power of AI to fuel the extremes of corporate performance, both positive and negative, requires a purposeful approach built on three pillars: a robust and reliable technology infrastructure, a specific focus on new business models, and a thoughtful approach to ethics. An AI strategy needs to be built on a solid foundation to survive the strong winds of change.

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

DEEP DIVE—The BAS architecture of the future

Don’t miss out on part two of this three-part deep-dive interview series. This might be our deepest deep dive yet!

Part one was a deep dive on why the BAS industry is broken. Part two is about what we can do about it. Matt breaks down each layer (and even provides checklists!) and explains why Niagara and Distech are well-suited. Plus, he explains what's causing all this disruption. (20 min. read)

Podcast bites: Nick Gayeski of KGS Buildings on the power of the second D in FDD (3 mins)

4. 🧐 New to me

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

Here are this week’s discoveries:

  1. Occuspace—Their sensors scan for Bluetooth and WiFi signal activity in an area. Scans pick up laptops, cell phones, wearables, and other connected devices. Then their machine learning algorithm converts the number of devices to their assumed number of people in the space.

    Just like with Density, I’m taken aback by how expensive the SaaS fees are for these products. Here’s Occuspace’s simple calculator, which shows a range of $0.05-0.15 per square foot per year:

    For that to produce a viable ROI, building owners will need to consider other factors beyond simply energy savings. What’s the value of social distancing? What’s the value of space management? Do we have accepted calculations for these non-energy benefits?

    That said, kudos to both companies for their pricing transparency. I think we should start a movement to get every smart building tech company to simplify its pricing enough to put it on their website.

5. 🧱 Foundations

The dates are set for cohort 1 of Nexus Foundations, an introductory course on the smart buildings industry. From 10/1 to 11/19, we'll publish weekly content, host weekly live workshops on Zoom, and hold weekly office hours. We're capping this (deeply discounted) first cohort at 25 students to maximize the time we can spend with each student.

We're half full… reserve your spot now. 👇

Sign up for Nexus Foundations

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