Article
Founder Note
13
min read

The MSI

December 6, 2022

This edition of the Nexus Newsletter is brought to you by Altura Associates and Smart Buildings Center.


Hey friends,

As we celebrate the holidays and start to wind down the year, I'm reflecting on the progress in our industry in 2022.

One definite area of progress is defining the specialist roles needed to make smart buildings successful. In this series, we're summarizing five vital roles that every smart building program needs on the team.

We talk a lot about the flashy new technology required for smart buildings. But we must always remember that when we're changing how things are done, it's people that make it happen.  Here are the five roles we're going to cover:

  1. The Smart Building Champion
  2. The Design Consultant (last week)
  3. The Master Systems Integrator
  4. The Network Manager
  5. The Commissioning Agent

At the end of the series, we'll turn this into our latest whitepaper. Before then, we'd love to hear from you: are you playing one of these roles? What are your keys for success?

Let's jump in...


Role 3: The Master Systems Integrator (MSI)

As we covered last week, the traditional design, construction, renovation, and operations processes weren't created with a holistic technology strategy in mind. If these processes are carried out as "normal", we get silos.

Therefore, it's vital that someone takes responsibility for integrating technology into those processes. The Design Consultant must help the Smart Building Champion craft the smart building strategy and apply it to individual projects. That takes care of the design phase—but what about contracting, construction, renovation and operations phases?

That's where the MSI comes in.

While there's no accreditation or certificate that makes you an MSI, the word "master" implies craftspeople who have proven their skills, plus breadth and depth of experience at their craft. It's akin to the other master trades. You wouldn't build a building without a master electrician, would you?

Unlike the work of master electricians, the work of the MSI is not standardized. Quite the opposite—it's more like the “flex tape” for connecting building technology in an industry that isn't set up to connect technology. As a result, the MSI needs to get involved as early as possible, supporting the Design Consultant in crafting the overall vision and strategy.

Once the design phase is finished, that's when the bulk of the MSI's work begins. They'll have technical oversight and involvement with the subsystem provider selections—taking a role of peer review over the proposed technology solutions for the project.

The MSI also acts as an independent reviewer of vendor pricing so the best value and outcome for the customer is achieved rather than the lowest or most “economical” price to meet specifications. Essentially, the MSI ensures that each piece of technology is conducive to the customer's vision and strategy.

As Mike Brooman told me on the Nexus podcast, the role has two main parts:

  • Technical—Knowledge of siloed OT systems and IT networking, system automation and controls, data modeling, software applications, analytics, and support services. Deep understanding of the construction process and the ability to translate the design into practical reality. Integration skills to make everything work together.
  • Social—MSIs are frequently described as the glue that binds everything together. The glue between each of the subcontractors to help them understand what is needed from each siloed technology. The understanding of user experience (UX) design and the ability to apply it to all the different user interfaces in the building.

Once the systems are in, the MSI works with the Commissioning Agent and Network Manager to ensure that systems are on the converged network, they're set up properly and securely, and communication/data is going where it needs to go, and all use cases that were designed by the Design Consultant are enabled.

Then, during the operations phase of the building, the MSI is responsible for managing changes and additions to the integrations and technology stack.

Easier said than done!

👉 Go deeper on the MSI role:

See you next week for part 4!

Want to get into the whitepaper? What are your keys for success in this role?

—James Dice, Founder of Nexus Labs

P.S. The Nexus Pro community is your chance to rub elbows with the world's best MSIs. Join Nexus Pro to interact with them and pick their brains.


📊 A message from our sponsor, Altura Associates 📊

​​Altura is a mid-sized, mission-driven firm delivering impact and performance across the built environment. From designing and implementing corporate sustainability programs, to manipulating systems in the field to achieve performance, to building the tools that support project teams, Altura is committed to solving our world's macro-level problems through tangible projects today.

If you are interested in working alongside passionate colleagues to make a lasting impact, reach out at careers@alturaassociates.com.


✖ At the Nexus

Here’s everything worth sharing from Nexus HQ this week:

---

★ PODCAST: 🎧 #129: Decarbonizing New York City through Local Law 97Episode 129 is a conversation with Chris Colasanti and Molly Dee-Ramasamy from JB&B Engineering’s Deep Carbon Reduction team based in New York City.

We talked about where the decarbonization movement stands today, especially as it relates to New York’s Local Law 97. Molly and Chris unpacked first how the law works, then some of the challenges their clients have with it, and finally they shared some example projects where decarbonization, and electrifying heating specifically, hasn’t quite penciled out and where the industry needs to go from here if they’re going to get done in the future. This is a fascinating one.

---

★ MEMBERS-ONLY EVENTS THIS MONTH:

  • New Member Orientation: Nexus Founder, James Dice, will host an introduction to the Nexus Labs Community and how you access and take advantage of all the resources that come with your Pro Membership. This is for new members or those who've not taken advantage of all the resources at the Nexus Community. December 12 @ 2pm MT
  • Nexus Foundations Alumni Office Hours: This is a monthly event for all Nexus Foundations Alumni, hosted by James Dice, Founder of Nexus Labs. Post your questions here ahead of time as a comment. December 12th @ 9 am MT
  • Subject Matter Expert Workshop: The Plug and Process Loads Workshop will provide the opportunity to hear from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Plug and Process Loads (PPLs) Technology Research Team about the state of PPL controls and reduction strategies. December 7th @ 9am MT
  • Member Gathering: No Gathering due to the holidays.

Join Nexus Pro now to get the invites and access to the recordings.

---

★ ON LINKEDIN: How we should approach analytics in IAQ (and IEQ).

---

★ FROM THE ARCHIVES: The Nexus Vendor Landscape, our continuously evolving notebook of smart building vendors

---

★ JOBS: Are you hiring? Searching for a job in smart buildings?—We've relaunched the Nexus Labs Jobs Board.

It's got great jobs from Facilio, PassiveLogic, Bernhard, Vigilent, Lockheed Martin...

🔥🔥🔥 Hot Job in Smart Buildings

👉 Enterprise Account Executive – Australia & NZ

Facilio is an IoT based Connected Operations platform solution provider for smart building portfolios. As they are rapidly expanding in business, they're looking to add enterprise SaaS & smart buildings obsessed, ever curious, and fun talent to join their existing teams!

This role involves direct sales and selling with different GTM partners in the ANZ region. Prior experience of selling or consulting around smart building technology products or services will be a big advantage. The desired candidate brings a business background that enables them to find, build, and close new enterprise opportunities, foster strategic industry partnerships, and engage at the CXO level, with the ability to articulate and build business cases for the compelling value that Facilio offers its customers around emerging smart building technology use cases.


🏫 A message from our sponsor, Smart Buildings Center 🏫

The Smart Buildings Center Education Program (SBCEP) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that believes the smarter use of technology and practices in the built environment will enable a cleaner, healthier and more productive future.

The SBCEP seeks to establish thought leadership for smart technologies and practices within the built environment, and pursues its objective through the following pillars of activity: delivering training programs to educate the building workforce of the future; enabling industry leading demonstration projects; and connecting the industry through hosting and participating in smart buildings events.

Check out their body of work on The Essential Role of Smarter Buildings in the Clean Energy Transition.


👋 That's all for this week. See you next Tuesday!

Whenever you're ready, there are 4 ways Nexus Labs can help you:

1. Take our shortcut to learning the Smart Buildings industry here (350 students and counting)

2. Join our community of smart buildings nerds and gamechangers here (450 members and counting)

3. Sponsor our newsletter & podcast & get 6k+ nerdy eyeballs and earholes on your brand, product, or business.

4. (NEW) Join the Nexus Labs Syndicate on Angellist for opportunities to invest in the best smart buildings startups that cross my desk each month.

Upgrade to Nexus Pro to continue reading

Upgrade

This edition of the Nexus Newsletter is brought to you by Altura Associates and Smart Buildings Center.


Hey friends,

As we celebrate the holidays and start to wind down the year, I'm reflecting on the progress in our industry in 2022.

One definite area of progress is defining the specialist roles needed to make smart buildings successful. In this series, we're summarizing five vital roles that every smart building program needs on the team.

We talk a lot about the flashy new technology required for smart buildings. But we must always remember that when we're changing how things are done, it's people that make it happen.  Here are the five roles we're going to cover:

  1. The Smart Building Champion
  2. The Design Consultant (last week)
  3. The Master Systems Integrator
  4. The Network Manager
  5. The Commissioning Agent

At the end of the series, we'll turn this into our latest whitepaper. Before then, we'd love to hear from you: are you playing one of these roles? What are your keys for success?

Let's jump in...


Role 3: The Master Systems Integrator (MSI)

As we covered last week, the traditional design, construction, renovation, and operations processes weren't created with a holistic technology strategy in mind. If these processes are carried out as "normal", we get silos.

Therefore, it's vital that someone takes responsibility for integrating technology into those processes. The Design Consultant must help the Smart Building Champion craft the smart building strategy and apply it to individual projects. That takes care of the design phase—but what about contracting, construction, renovation and operations phases?

That's where the MSI comes in.

While there's no accreditation or certificate that makes you an MSI, the word "master" implies craftspeople who have proven their skills, plus breadth and depth of experience at their craft. It's akin to the other master trades. You wouldn't build a building without a master electrician, would you?

Unlike the work of master electricians, the work of the MSI is not standardized. Quite the opposite—it's more like the “flex tape” for connecting building technology in an industry that isn't set up to connect technology. As a result, the MSI needs to get involved as early as possible, supporting the Design Consultant in crafting the overall vision and strategy.

Once the design phase is finished, that's when the bulk of the MSI's work begins. They'll have technical oversight and involvement with the subsystem provider selections—taking a role of peer review over the proposed technology solutions for the project.

The MSI also acts as an independent reviewer of vendor pricing so the best value and outcome for the customer is achieved rather than the lowest or most “economical” price to meet specifications. Essentially, the MSI ensures that each piece of technology is conducive to the customer's vision and strategy.

As Mike Brooman told me on the Nexus podcast, the role has two main parts:

  • Technical—Knowledge of siloed OT systems and IT networking, system automation and controls, data modeling, software applications, analytics, and support services. Deep understanding of the construction process and the ability to translate the design into practical reality. Integration skills to make everything work together.
  • Social—MSIs are frequently described as the glue that binds everything together. The glue between each of the subcontractors to help them understand what is needed from each siloed technology. The understanding of user experience (UX) design and the ability to apply it to all the different user interfaces in the building.

Once the systems are in, the MSI works with the Commissioning Agent and Network Manager to ensure that systems are on the converged network, they're set up properly and securely, and communication/data is going where it needs to go, and all use cases that were designed by the Design Consultant are enabled.

Then, during the operations phase of the building, the MSI is responsible for managing changes and additions to the integrations and technology stack.

Easier said than done!

👉 Go deeper on the MSI role:

See you next week for part 4!

Want to get into the whitepaper? What are your keys for success in this role?

—James Dice, Founder of Nexus Labs

P.S. The Nexus Pro community is your chance to rub elbows with the world's best MSIs. Join Nexus Pro to interact with them and pick their brains.


📊 A message from our sponsor, Altura Associates 📊

​​Altura is a mid-sized, mission-driven firm delivering impact and performance across the built environment. From designing and implementing corporate sustainability programs, to manipulating systems in the field to achieve performance, to building the tools that support project teams, Altura is committed to solving our world's macro-level problems through tangible projects today.

If you are interested in working alongside passionate colleagues to make a lasting impact, reach out at careers@alturaassociates.com.


✖ At the Nexus

Here’s everything worth sharing from Nexus HQ this week:

---

★ PODCAST: 🎧 #129: Decarbonizing New York City through Local Law 97Episode 129 is a conversation with Chris Colasanti and Molly Dee-Ramasamy from JB&B Engineering’s Deep Carbon Reduction team based in New York City.

We talked about where the decarbonization movement stands today, especially as it relates to New York’s Local Law 97. Molly and Chris unpacked first how the law works, then some of the challenges their clients have with it, and finally they shared some example projects where decarbonization, and electrifying heating specifically, hasn’t quite penciled out and where the industry needs to go from here if they’re going to get done in the future. This is a fascinating one.

---

★ MEMBERS-ONLY EVENTS THIS MONTH:

  • New Member Orientation: Nexus Founder, James Dice, will host an introduction to the Nexus Labs Community and how you access and take advantage of all the resources that come with your Pro Membership. This is for new members or those who've not taken advantage of all the resources at the Nexus Community. December 12 @ 2pm MT
  • Nexus Foundations Alumni Office Hours: This is a monthly event for all Nexus Foundations Alumni, hosted by James Dice, Founder of Nexus Labs. Post your questions here ahead of time as a comment. December 12th @ 9 am MT
  • Subject Matter Expert Workshop: The Plug and Process Loads Workshop will provide the opportunity to hear from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Plug and Process Loads (PPLs) Technology Research Team about the state of PPL controls and reduction strategies. December 7th @ 9am MT
  • Member Gathering: No Gathering due to the holidays.

Join Nexus Pro now to get the invites and access to the recordings.

---

★ ON LINKEDIN: How we should approach analytics in IAQ (and IEQ).

---

★ FROM THE ARCHIVES: The Nexus Vendor Landscape, our continuously evolving notebook of smart building vendors

---

★ JOBS: Are you hiring? Searching for a job in smart buildings?—We've relaunched the Nexus Labs Jobs Board.

It's got great jobs from Facilio, PassiveLogic, Bernhard, Vigilent, Lockheed Martin...

🔥🔥🔥 Hot Job in Smart Buildings

👉 Enterprise Account Executive – Australia & NZ

Facilio is an IoT based Connected Operations platform solution provider for smart building portfolios. As they are rapidly expanding in business, they're looking to add enterprise SaaS & smart buildings obsessed, ever curious, and fun talent to join their existing teams!

This role involves direct sales and selling with different GTM partners in the ANZ region. Prior experience of selling or consulting around smart building technology products or services will be a big advantage. The desired candidate brings a business background that enables them to find, build, and close new enterprise opportunities, foster strategic industry partnerships, and engage at the CXO level, with the ability to articulate and build business cases for the compelling value that Facilio offers its customers around emerging smart building technology use cases.


🏫 A message from our sponsor, Smart Buildings Center 🏫

The Smart Buildings Center Education Program (SBCEP) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that believes the smarter use of technology and practices in the built environment will enable a cleaner, healthier and more productive future.

The SBCEP seeks to establish thought leadership for smart technologies and practices within the built environment, and pursues its objective through the following pillars of activity: delivering training programs to educate the building workforce of the future; enabling industry leading demonstration projects; and connecting the industry through hosting and participating in smart buildings events.

Check out their body of work on The Essential Role of Smarter Buildings in the Clean Energy Transition.


👋 That's all for this week. See you next Tuesday!

Whenever you're ready, there are 4 ways Nexus Labs can help you:

1. Take our shortcut to learning the Smart Buildings industry here (350 students and counting)

2. Join our community of smart buildings nerds and gamechangers here (450 members and counting)

3. Sponsor our newsletter & podcast & get 6k+ nerdy eyeballs and earholes on your brand, product, or business.

4. (NEW) Join the Nexus Labs Syndicate on Angellist for opportunities to invest in the best smart buildings startups that cross my desk each month.

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⭐️ Pro Article

This article is for Nexus Pro members only

Upgrade to Nexus Pro

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