4 min read

#64: Integrated DERs, Hacking BAS, and the Humans of Smart Buildings

Plus: a new podcast, elevator analytics, and the 3 more myths about smart buildings
“Many of the solutions deployed as part of a broader iDER platform — including VPPs, DERMS, and microgrids — are multipurpose, offering benefits to other emerging Energy Cloud infrastructure needs such as Building-to-Grid and Transportation-to-Grid.”

—Orchestrating the Grid’s Last Mile

Good morning!

Welcome to Nexus, a newsletter, podcast, membership community, and online school 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: humans of smart buildings
  2. 💡 Insights: Integrated DERs, Hacking BAS, the changing BAS integration landscape
  3. Brand new stuff: A new podcast and 3 new companies to track
  4. 🧱  Foundations: the top four myths about smart buildings
  5. 🌎  Diversions: an intro to the browser wars

Enjoy!


1. 🤔 On my mind this week

There’s this Instagram account and website I love called Humans of New York. The founder Brandon photographs, interviews, and profiles random strangers on the streets of New York City. I love it, as tens of millions of other subscribers do, because the stories are incredible in their humanity and they help me get out of my own head and see life through different perspectives.

This week in the Foundations course, we’re channeling HONY and seeing life through the lens of the Humans of Smart Buildings. This first step in creating a smart building can be just as interesting!


2. 💡 Insights

Only the best smart building resources we consumed this week…

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Integrated DER: Orchestrating the Grid’s Last Mile—Since The Lens last week covered FERC Order 2222, a few of you have reached out asking for a bit more of a primer on what distributed energy resources are all about. This is a good, if a bit hand-wavey, ~30-page primer from Guidehouse.

Moving iDER beyond the residential sector to commercial and industrial buildings opens up another set of possible solutions to future infrastructure needs. The effects of iDER deployments on these buildings are more advanced and much more significant. The relationship between building energy supply and demand is still evolving, but in a direction consistent with iDER.

I’m still looking for a beginner-level resource on DERs and VPPs that describes the grid services they provide. Content on this topic typically assumes you know a bunch about the grid, which isn’t always true for us behind-the-meter folks. If anyone has this, please send it my way!

[Also, this is great to pair with the recent grid catastrophe in Texas]

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22 SECONDS TO HACK A BAS—This video shows how BBMD's are found using Censys.io and how in 22 seconds a hacker can gain full control of BACnet devices connected to the BBMD. The tool used is an open-source, free tool and no username and password are needed. 😳

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Changing Integration in Building Automation—This impressive, if goofy, Delta Controls video provides a good and quick overview of how integration with BAS controllers is changing.


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-ish deep dives, and all past deep dives.

Join NEXUS Pro


3. Brand new stuff

Everything Nexus created this week…

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PODCAST—🎧 #039: Adam Kaufman on the vital role of the analytics super user

This about is the vital role of the famed human in the loop: the stark truth that in order for this potentially game-changing technology to make a real impact, there must be humans like Adam that use and drive actions.

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VENDOR UPDATE—Even though the Nexus Vendor Landscape has 150+ vendors on it, I still learn about new companies/products to track every week. Here is this week’s discovery:

uptime (pictured)

WeMaintain

Lift AI

These three are all elevator analytics companies. I’m surprised this solution even exists, let alone that there are three of them out there. Pretty soon there will be separate analytics companies for locks and escalators and turnstiles.


4. 🧱 Foundations

Bite-sized learnings for newcomers to the smart buildings industry courtesy of the Nexus Foundations course. To be notified when we launch Cohort 3, join the waitlist here.

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A few weeks back, I told those who were interested in the Foundations course the number one myth about smart buildings technology: that smart buildings are created by a single solution or product. In week one of the course, we also bust myths 2, 3, and 4:

  • That smart buildings are created by a single project
  • That we’re all on different teams
  • That someone has this all figured out

Letting these underlying beliefs requires us to form a new mindset. One of continuous learning & action, collaboration & leadership, meeting people where they’re at, being the glue between stakeholders, and holistic & long-term thinking.


5. 🌎  Diversions

Technology resources from outside of the built environment. What might we apply in our industry?

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A Brief History of Web Browsers and How They Work—There have been some rumblings that our industry’s Ontology Wars are akin to the browser wars of the 1990s and early 2000s. I’ve been reading up on summary articles and this is a good place to start.

How do you think the two scenarios compare?


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

—James