4 min read

#67: Analytics for dumpsters, energy retrofit startup raises $63M, and our readiness for Net Zero

Plus a new podcast and a primer on authentication
#67: Analytics for dumpsters, energy retrofit startup raises $63M, and our readiness for Net Zero
“OT is not concrete. There's care and feeding that needs to go into it."

—Aaron Lapsley on the Nexus Podcast

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: the podcast turns 1
  2. 💡 Insights: Blocpower raises $63M, visual analytics for dumpsters, and getting ready for Net Zero
  3. Brand new stuff: A podcast with smart buildings pro Aaron Lapsley
  4. 🧱  Foundations: Cybersecurity… it’s not rocket science
  5. 🌎  Diversions: Authentication 101

If you missed last week’s edition, you can find it here.

Enjoy!


1. 🤔 On my mind this week

The Nexus podcast turns 1 year old this week. While I still have no idea what I’m doing producing audio or video content, I’m extremely proud of the quality of conversations we’ve had on the pod and I’m equally excited about the future of the show. I get several messages from listeners each week about the impact we’re having… please keep them coming!

If you’re just getting started with the show and don’t want to start at the beginning, the most downloaded episodes are #19, #3, #29. And #41 is an early favorite.


2. 💡 Insights

Only the best smart building resources we consumed this week…

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How Tech is Tackling Multifamily's Growing Mountain of Trash—This is an excellent analysis of a new opportunity for smart building technology with a seemingly quick payback and environmental impact.

For many residential buildings more frequent waste hauling, contamination fines, cleanings fees, and recycling charges are eating into net operating income. Now a relatively simple piece of PropTech is giving multifamily operators a tool to tackle their trash troubles.

Here’s the thing: There’s a vital piece of the equation that’s missing from this article (which is common in our industry): the end-user. In this case, the user is a building maintenance person who will now be expected to log into a new analytics tool and then literally go dumpster diving to make this use case successful. Something stinks about that. If we continue to ignore the end-user, our industry will wake up in another 10 years and wonder why tech adoption is still behind.

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Blocpower unlocks energy efficiency retrofits for low-income communities—Blocpower CEO Donnell Baird once helped the Obama administration promote green jobs by reaching out to communities and unions.

And it was while watching the benefits of that stimulus collapse under the weight of a fragmented building industry that Baird came up with the idea for BlocPower.

Blocpower just raised a $63M Series A to combine deep HVAC retrofits, their proprietary energy modeling software, retrofit financing, and on-bill repayment. They’re a modern ESCO built for the most neglected buildings on the planet.

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MA is Ready For Net Zero—I enjoyed reading this report on the state of net zero in Massachusetts. It busts all sorts of myths using surveys from actual projects.


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, a private chatroom, and all past deep dives.

Join NEXUS Pro


3. Brand new stuff

Everything Nexus created this week…

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PODCAST—🎧 #042: Aaron Lapsley on Smart Building Strategy, six factors limiting innovation, and IAQ

Aaron walks us through a great answer to my favorite question and that leads into the keys smart building strategy. The he gives a buzzword- and hype-free update on what's going on in the world of IAQ and RESET in the COVID era.

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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:

Dalux—Danish startup with a lightweight and free BIM viewer, design tool, and BIM-based CMMS for the O&M phase.


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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This week’s module of the Foundations course includes a primer on Cybersecurity. The main lightbulb that we’re trying to turn on for students is that it’s not rocket science. Let’s not let it get too complicated or shrouded in mystery.

It takes a sophisticated hacker to exploit vulnerabilities, but often the mistakes that led to the vulnerabilities in the first place are simple. They’re the lack of implementing fairly simple best practices, after connecting our formerly disconnected silos to a common network and/or the internet.

That was certainly the case two weeks ago, when security camera startup Verkada got hacked using a simple authentication backdoor.


5. 🌎  Diversions

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

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How does authentication work?—Speaking of authentication, I love these Technically explainers. This one is on how the apps you use know that you are who you say you are. Exploiting shoddy authentication is one of the easiest avenues to hack a modern building system, so a broader understanding of it is key for our industry.


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

If you have thoughts on this week’s edition, let us know in the comments!

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—James