4 min read

#43: skill gaps for maintaining high-performance buildings

Plus: scoring smart buildings, a DIY smart building kit for tenants, and one standard to standardize all the standards

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.

I’m going to be keeping the newsletter short and sweet for a few weeks as I focus on facilitating the Nexus Foundations course. This might be a relief for those of you that need some time to catch up with all of our past goodies. If that’s you, hit the archive!

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

  1. 📚 What I’m reading

  2. 💡 New from Nexus

    • VIDEO—Member gathering on Advanced Supervisory Controls (Pro members only)

    • PODCAST—🎧 #021: Friendly rants volume 5: the misuse of the word "platform" (Pro members only)

  3. 🧐 New to me


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

1. 📚 What I’m reading


The “world’s first” comprehensive smart building assessment and rating program—Pay $1,500 per building to input your data into UL’s new online tool and get a smart building score broken down into 6 categories of smartness. Here’s the press release. Excited to learn more about this but safe to say I’m skeptical.


Is the workforce ready for high performance buildings? Report finds major skills gaps—ACEEE survey where 92% of respondents said that operations and maintenance (O&M) is the most critical skill area for the buildings workforce of the future.

Data and analytics are increasingly important parts of nearly everything we use — including buildings. Operating a high performance building will increasingly require knowledge of data acquisition and analysis, performance modeling, and even cybersecurity.

If the workforce lacks the requisite skills to manage them, high performance buildings will not deliver on their promise of saving energy, improving indoor air quality, protecting the climate, and reducing costs, and these preventable problems would threaten their long term viability.

Oh, and it’s not just technical skills we’re after:


Inside Buildings IOT’s Ontology Alignment Project (OAP)—Hoping to unpack this with Brian Turner soon. At first glance, it looks like an attempt at a standard to unite all the semantic interoperability standards (Project Haystack, Brick, Google’s Digital Buildings).

The sad truth is, when there is more than one standard trying to accomplish the same thing, then really there is no standard. This is the premise we started from when we began our Ontology Alignment Project (OAP).

Side note: Google’s Sidewalk Labs released a smart building “kit” to allow tenants to reduce their own energy consumption. It’s called Mesa.


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

The secret to building a smart city that’s antiracist (Fast Company)

Most smart city efforts extract information from poor people, primarily people of color, to power technologies that target sites for business investment and often accelerate gentrification. Thus, these “free” public initiatives are paid for by data from communities of color while threatening the ability of those very same communities to remain part of the city.

The article mentions Sidewalk Labs’ LinkNYC project as an example. I wonder what they’re planning to do with that tenant data from “Mesa”?


Demand response failed California 20 years ago; the state's recent outages may have redeemed it—This is one of the most interesting articles I’ve seen on building-grid interaction. What are we learning from California’s grid issues? (Utility Dive)

The need for flexible DR to manage peak demand is likely to grow as more of the economy is electrified and the need for and value of being able to shift and shed load becomes greater.

Unlike traditional DR value, based on quantifiable past impacts, calculation of flexible DR value will require "automated analytics" to make complicated performance projections of changing loads and customer participation.

Effective use of DR "has to start with efficient pricing," said CAISO Senior Manager for Infrastructure and Regulatory Policy John Goodin. "Customers must be exposed to time-varying, grid-informed, grid-supporting prices, and homes and buildings must be automated to use customers' preset preferences to react to price signals."

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

  • VIDEO—Member gathering on Advanced Supervisory Controls (Pro members only)
  • PODCAST—🎧 #021: Friendly rants volume 5: the misuse of the word "platform" (Pro members only)

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 is this week’s discovery:

Emitwise—Early-stage startup that automates your greenhouse gas emissions tracking across the enterprise. Interesting to me as buildings are just one piece of the ESG puzzle.

Emitwise pulls data automatically from your accounting, procurement, and energy management systems to take care of all the data acquisition required for scope 1, 2, and 3 accounting.

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


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