4 min read

#45: the best resource on HVAC+COVID

Plus ESG talk and PassiveLogic's Series A
“If there is a pile of manure in a space, do not try to remove the odor by ventilation. Remove the pile of manure.”

—Max von Pettenkofer, 1858, via Taylor Engineering’s COVID-19 HVAC Whitepaper

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

  3. 🧐 New to me


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

1. 📚 What I’m reading and watching


Taylor Engineering’s COVID-19 HVAC Whitepaper—If you’re involved in HVAC in any way, stop what you’re doing and read this. And at the very least, let’s put HVAC schedules back on our buildings.

Or at least read the conclusions & recommendations. Here are a few:

Recirculation risk—“(…) none of the ~200 research reports we reviewed has demonstrated that AHU-scale transmission of COVID-19 has occurred, and few even suggest it might.  

Increasing minimum airflow—“Given the very low estimated infection rate at the code minimum ventilation rate with masks, and the 100% certainty that increasing minimum setpoints will significantly increase energy use and associated negative environmental impacts, we do not recommend doing so.”

Increasing AHU Outdoor Air—“We do not think there is anything but the slightest benefit with respect to disease transmission – for more discussion on this issue under the “100% Outdoor Air” and “Filtration” heading below – while there is 100% certainty that energy use will increase.  So we do not recommend doing so.”

24/7 operation of ventilation systems—“… Does this merit 24/7 operation?  We do not believe so. Title 24 120.1 (d) 2. ventilation requirements already require that ventilation systems operate 1 hour before expected occupancy.  With the information currently available regarding the half-life of SARS-CoV-2 and particle deposition rates, we believe this is sufficient purging.”

Umm… wear a mask“Until a successful vaccine is developed, it is clear that masks are the only effective mitigation for large and short-range droplet transmission – there is nothing HVAC systems can do to mitigate these paths.”

Thanks to Taylor Engineering for doing this. Incredible work. At the very least, let’s pay them back by putting HVAC schedules back on our buildings.


CREtech panel discussion with Bractlet and Transwestern—I interviewed Jack Gregoire, Vice President and Senior Property Manager at Transwestern, and Alec Manfre, CEO at Bractlet. We discussed how the modern CRE portfolio requires increased analytical rigor for building operations and energy management and explored the pain points in connection with outdated methods of data collection, reporting, and analysis.


PassiveLogic raises $16 million to simplify the designing of smart building systems—Congrats to our friends at PassiveLogic and Keyframe Capital.

“PassiveLogic addresses a critical and large market need that has been consistently underserved by existing building automation companies. Without open, flexible controls systems as the backbone for building systems, the promise of a highly efficient or “smart” building is simply out of reach. Many buildings have been surviving with insufficient automation solutions for years – creating added costs, energy waste, and underwhelming tenant experiences.”

If you’re new around here and haven’t heard of PassiveLogic, it’s time to dive in:


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


ESG data is not capturing real-world impact

“…it’s safe to say that ESG data will not give us companies that produce the goods and services aligned with the future we want to transform to.

Today, it is possible for a company to get strong ESG scores by incrementally improving environmental performance to a level at least as good as its peers. These steps forward are of course valuable, but they can often be achieved without altering the company’s business model or product offering.”


How the Property Industry Can Repay Its Debt to African American Communities

“The problem is that to achieve the equality we feel we are destined for, it is not fighting that is needed, it is payback.

So many of our institutions have been an accomplice to the tilting of the scales towards the White and privileged, few more than the property 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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2. 💡 New from NEXUS

  • PODCAST—🎧 #023: Unpacking advanced supervisory control with Nexus Pro Members

    • I started out the episode by introducing advanced supervisory controls and summarizing why this is important for smart buildings, climate change, and much more.

    • Then we heard from our panelists, three of whom are past podcast guests. We had: Keith Gipson of facil.ai, Tyson Soutter of Siemens, Terry Herr of Intellimation, and Jean-Simon Venne of BrainBox AI.

    • The five of us unpack this topic, which I think is the most misunderstood topic in smart buildings right now.

  • DEEP DIVE—Episode #23 reaction: ASC's potential (Pro members only)

3. 🧐 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:

Demand Logic—UK-based analytics overlay software claiming to have some large CRE clients and a 24-hour deployment & data modeling process

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