5 min read

#50: The "E" in ESG is where we turn the lever

Real estate finance, an update on the Microsoft ecosystem, and implementing the BAS architecture of the future
Here is my message to anyone in charge of procuring BAS work, owner or otherwise: step 1 is to take all the proposals you have on your desk from the multiple BAS providers recommending you upgrade, replace, and/or piecemeal the system along and file them in the recycling bin.

—Matt Schwartz on Implementing 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, especially those of you who subscribed after the Realcomm webinar last week, you might want to start here.

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

  1. 🤔 On my mind this week
  2. 📚 What I’m reading
  3. 💡 New from Nexus
  4. 🧐 New to me
  5. 🧱 Foundations


1. 🤔 On my mind this week

By the time this email hits your inbox, I’ll be taking a much-needed break from work. If I’m lucky, I’ll be lost in the Rockies somewhere, have my nose buried in a good book, or be at one of my favorite retreat spots: Joyful Journey Hot Springs…

In the spirit of this week’s Thanksgiving holiday, I just wanted to say I’m grateful to all of you for being part of this growing community.

(By the way: There will be no podcast this week. We’ll pick it up next week with a great episode with Google.)

2. 📚 What I’m reading and watching


Microsoft unlocks the full potential of the smart building ecosystem—I recorded a podcast last week with Matthew Vogel, the author of this piece on the Microsoft Azure blog. The podcast is coming soon, but this is a preview of what we dove into.

We are announcing that we will be releasing an open source Smart Buildings DTDL repository, aligned to the RealEstateCore domain ontology. RealEstateCore is a common language used to model and control buildings, simplifying the development of new services. The ontology is rich and complete, while providing simplicity and real-world applicability with proven industry solutions and partnerships.

RealEstateCore specifically does not aim to be a new standard, but rather provides a common denominator and bridge with other industry standards such as Brick, Project Haystack, and more. The DTDL-based RealEstateCore ontology will not only accelerate developers from the “blank page,” but will also facilitate business-to-business integrations between vendors in a smart building. Since the DTDL-based ontology will be open sourced, developers can easily annotate existing models while contributing their own domain expertise.


Investing in Climate Tech Will Bring the Real Estate Industry to True Carbon Neutral—Fifth Wall Co-Founder Brendan Wallace in conversation with sustainability leader Lindsay Baker and Steve Weikal, Head of Industry Relations at MIT's Center for Real Estate, as they discuss how we can bring the real estate industry to true carbon neutral through investment in Climate Tech.

The real estate industry is orders of magnitude more impactful around the “E” (in ESG) in its business, and the immeasurability of “S” and “G” get lumped in with implied immeasurability of “E”, which is not true. It is measurable. Somehow we have to atomize ESG and accept that they’re all important, but some are more important than others for different industries. For real esate, it is “E”. “E” is where we turn the lever.
Investors are starting to ask harder questions that will determine whether they will invest in you or not. If you had an understanding of ESG investing and it hasn’t been updated in the last 6 months, then you don’t understand what’s going on.


IoT Leaders Join the Zigbee Alliance’s IP Working Group to Promote IP-Based Convergence for the Commercial Market—this piece announces an important movement within the Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP) smart home initiative—which has members like Apple, Google, Amazon, and IKEA—forming a team dedicated to the development and promotion of the standard for commercial markets.

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

This week, Matt Schwartz and I continued our interview series of fixing the modern BAS. And Joe Gaspardone dives deep into commercial real estate finance. If you're interested in smart buildings, the business case for that solution or technology needs to be made at some point. In this episode, we show you what it takes to actually do that for one type of building: the commercial office building.

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:

ProptechOS—Digital twin platform built on the RealEstateCore ontology with good traction with some huge property managers/owners in the EU.

5. 🧱 Foundations

Last week, we hosted the last workshop of Cohort #1 of the Nexus Foundations course. As we start to look forward to Cohort #2, I want to shine a light on someone who, without her, the course wouldn’t exist: Rachel Kennedy.

⭐ Rachel is a rising star in the smart buildings industry. She made huge contributions to the sections of the course on integration, cybersecurity, ideation, and many more—all while studying for her professional engineering exam and working a full-time job at Switch Automation.

I think one of the most overlooked aspects of the course we’ve created is that students get access to experts like Rachel and can ask them any question they want for 6 whole weeks via slack. 🤯 In fact, that’s why Rachel is involved in the course. She wants to meet the future changemakers in our industry and support their journey.

Early bird pricing for Cohort #2 (which kicks off in February 2021) is available now and will run until midnight on 12/31/2020. If you’re interested in taking the course, I recommend enrolling sometime before then to reserve your spot and capture the discount.

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