4 min read

#70: Defining "platform", 4 steps to carbon neutrality, and greenwashing in 2021

Saying no, career planning, and a new podcast
“At the end of the day the only way to start truly decarbonizing is to decarbonize the underlying businesses and buildings. You can’t get there with this funky left pocket / right pocket math anymore.”

—Greg Smithies

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: Saying no
  2. 💡 Insights: Steps to carbon neutrality and Brookfield’s net-zero misstep
  3. Brand new stuff: A new podcast on scaling analytics with Leon Wurfel
  4. 🧱  Foundations: the career foundations for success in our industry
  5. 🌎  Diversions: Defining the word “platform”

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


1. 🤔 On my mind this week

Cohort 2 of the Nexus Foundations course is winding down this week. It was the most fun I’ve had in my career so far.

Now it’s time for a much-needed break and quarterly review! This week, I’ll be analyzing what’s working, what’s not, and deciding what to focus on in quarter 2.

Inevitably, that means saying NO to most things I want to do so I can focus on the top 3-5 things. As my coach and mentor says, “there’s a lotta ‘no’ in the real ‘yes’!”

What are you saying ‘no’ to this quarter?

2. 💡 Insights

Only the best smart building resources we consumed this week…


Is Carbon Neutrality in Buildings Really Possible?—This title is a bit clickbaity and presents a question that goes unanswered in the essay. That said, the piece presents the strategic framework that organizations must follow to actually make good on their bold and flashy climate commitments:

1️⃣ A comprehensive carbon management strategy, the appropriate end goal, and milestones along the way.

2️⃣ A greenhouse gas/carbon inventory that sets a baseline against which to measure (and show progress) and demonstrates ongoing credibility through tracking and reporting.

3️⃣ Take action by reducing emissions as the primary focus (Ahem, energy efficiency), maximizing the use of on- and off-site renewable energy sources, and then purchasing “offsets” for the remainder of the emissions as the “last step.”

4️⃣ Consistent measurement and tracking of key metrics, reporting progress toward goals, and assessing and adjusting strategy to stay on track.

“Gone are the days when a plaque in the lobby was enough to attract tenants and investors. We are entering an era of rigorous and credible climate target-setting, tracking, and achievement.”


What Criticism of Brookfield's "Net-Zero" Claim Means For The Future of Real Estate Sustainability—A big inside baseball argument and overall 🤦 happened when Brookfield, one of the largest and more prestigious real estate owners in the world, tried to claim they were already net-zero today. They were swiftly called out for what will surely become the greenwashing tactic of the 2020s.

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.

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3. Brand new stuff

Everything Nexus created this week…


PODCAST—🎧 #045: Leon Wurfel on how analytics can scale and founding BUENO

Leon and I chat on BUENO’s founding story, the analytics market today, how BUENO approaches analytics, how analytics itself can go mainstream and finally cross the chasm.


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:

But it’s grey, not black!

Ecopilot—Advanced supervisory control startup out of Sweden seemingly focused on HVAC optimization.

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.


This week we launched a new module to the Foundations course on developing your career plan. How can we set up ourselves to make our highest impact in this industry?

I think the best way to think about it is like a building’s foundation and as it turns out, there are two main types of foundations out there.


Setting our lack of structural engineering knowledge to the side, this deep vs. shallow dichotomy is a great way to think about smart building career planning. While each building only needs one type of foundation, smart building programs need leaders with both shallow and deep foundations.

Shallow smart building foundations are wider than they are deep. They help us see things holistically, develop a Smart Building Strategy, and pull in the experts when we need them. Deep smart building foundations are where are the nerdier details live that actually make the Strategy work in the real world.

5. 🌎  Diversions

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


A Summary of Platform Revolution—Our industry’s vendors LOVE to throw around the word platform. I’m reading a book called Platform Revolution and can say that if you use the authors’ definition of “platform”, we actually have VERY few true platforms in our industry. This is a great summary.

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