6 min read

Nexus #17 (4/7/2020)

Cushman & Wakefield's perspective on digital twins; Yet another smart building standard; converting a BIM to a digital twin

👋 Welcome to Nexus, a newsletter for smart people applying smart building technology—written by James Dice.

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Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the following text, on the Nexus website, and on the Nexus podcast belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author's employer, organization, or other group or individual.


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

  1. What I’m thinking about this week
  2. Nexus podcast Episode 2
  3. My highlights from the latest Cushman & Wakefield Edge Magazine
  4. Summarizing the new RESET standard for buildings
  5. A few takeaways after watching a recent webinar titled Best practices for extending BIM into the building lifecycle

from Nexus:

1. what I’m thinking about this week

Like all of you, I’m continuing to track the long term impact of COVID-19 on our industry. Just like I did in the first Nexus Deep Dive, I’ll continue to share my thoughts here as I have them. If you’re looking for the signal in the noise, here’s the best COVID-19 content I’ve seen this week:

As usual, please add any great stuff you’ve seen to the comments.

2. Nexus Podcast Episode 2

The next podcast episode with my friend Joe Aamidor is live. Feedback has been great on this so far. Thanks to Joe for sharing his wisdom.

The podcast is now on Apple Podcasts… please subscribe. Episode 3 is coming soon!

In other news:

  • The Nexus book club is going strong. You can still join! I’m not sending emails about it, but you can find info on the Nexus site.



+ Cushman & Wakefield’s Edge Magazine (Volume 3)—Cushman & Wakefield released Volume 3 of their online magazine, The Edge. It requires an email address to download it, but I think a few articles are worth checking out:

  • A conversation between Brendan Wallace, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Fifth Wall, and Brett White, Executive Chairman & CEO, Cushman & Wakefield
  • The power of digital twin technology

On why Cushman & Wakefield is partnering with Fifth Wall:

After debating the pros and cons of building our own proprietary technologies, we ultimately decided that being able to bring our clients the best readily available technology in the market, and build platforms around that, was a far better strategy than doing it ourselves. To this end, we knew we needed partners who are best-in-class at not only examining and underwriting companies within the space, but can also be an advisor as we create new solutions for our clients.

This reminds me of our recent All-Star Game vs. Home Run Derby conversation.

On the danger of inaction for building owners:

It’s often said that organizations don’t win by identifying the right technology first, but they can lose by adopting the wrong technology. It’s very unlikely any real estate firm is truly going to gain a differentiated long term, defensible advantage through a technology option, but they can absolutely lose by not doing anything at all or by being so myopically focused on a “do it first, do it ourselves” mentality – which is a mentality that has plagued the real estate industry.

On digital twins, and how they’re catching on in healthcare, cities, manufacturing, and aerospace with their impact broken down into three categories: Design, Process, Assets:

On the types of data they’re looking to pull into their digital twins:

BUILDINGS: Built space conditions, structure, windows, doors, roofs, walls, 3D space photos and GIS tagging

EQUIPMENT AND ASSETS: Mechanical, electric, plumbing, fire/life safety, IT infrastructure and GIS tagging

TELEMETRY: Building automation systems, lighting control, occupancy sensors and other sensors

On the shifting drivers behind smart building technology adoption:

The main drivers of adopting technology to create smart buildings have so far been to improve efficiency and reduce costs. This technology has been deployed to manage operations such as smart HVAC, smart lighting and smart elevators. Occupiers are also turning to sensor technology to optimize space utilization, air quality and workplace safety. The new challenge is shifting from being just “smart” about our buildings, to become “smart” about how this can help measure, monitor and improve the human experience within our buildings.

Notice how well this aligns with our two digital twin jobs to be done:

  1. Produce a specific occupant experience
  2. Make a profit


+ The RESET standard for buildings—The Edge also informed me of the new (to me) RESET standard, which smart building practitioners should have on their radar. From the RESET website:

RESET prioritizes on-going results and long-term occupant health. It requires data to be live-streamed to the cloud via multi-parameter monitors that can be accessed from any device.

  • Real-Time Data - The RESET Standard is results-driven. RESET is the only building standard based on real-time data gathered by monitors.
  • Health-driven - The RESET Standard focuses on human health as the main target. We care about metrics that directly impact human health, such as indoor air quality.
  • Long Term monitoring - To apply RESET Standard, building or spaces need to be long term monitored to make sure environmental quality stays great during the occupancy phase.
  • Communication - RESET facilitates real-time communication of indoor health data so that it can be accessed by all tenants. This can help with retaining tenants and increasing building valuation.

Did you know about this already? Is it catching on? Let us know in the comments.


+ Best practices for extending BIM into the building lifecycle (Verdantix, behind paywall)—I’m evaluating a membership with industry research firm Verdantix and had the privilege of sitting in on this members-only webinar, which is a summary of a 20-page report they wrote on the same topic.

While I’ve talked up the value of digital twins for facility operations, many of you have responded with one big reason to remain skeptical about them:


Okay, okay, calm down.

One answer to that question, as covered in this webinar, is that we need to enhance and extend the use of the Building Information Models (BIM) owners are already paying for. Right now they’re being used for “3D BIM”—essentially just a design aid for architects and engineers. That use can be extended into 6D or 7D or 8D BIM, depending on who is defining the new dimensions. At some point in this progression, it starts to look a lot like our definition of a modern digital twin.

(Image credit: Verdantix; see google images for many other renditions of this progression)

One big obstacle in this progression: That huge divide between what happens in design and what happens in operations. If that transition is going to work, BIM software will need to accommodate and anticipate how the twin will be used several years ahead of time—by completely different end-users. I’m skeptical.

I’m also skeptical of expecting the architect and contractors to understand and plan for managing the data layer—what the BIM world calls a common data environment (CDE)—in a way that fully allows and supports all of the analytics applications needed in a modern digital twin.

The webinar goes a lot deeper into barriers, best practices, and use cases for BIM in facility management. Thank you to our Nexus readers from Verdantix for this research. I’ll leave ya with this screenshot:

Sounds eerily familiar to our conversations on analytics software, right?

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