#69: Platform magic, air purification hype, and the small buildings void

Plus a new podcast, member digest, and more

…And they're just part of the reality of the built environment. I think we'd be better off instead of wishing that some magic technology will make it go away, to understand where are the pain points? Where are the bottlenecks? How can we ease them and improve this?

—John Petze 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: Real Innovation

  2. 💡 Insights: Padi’s platform play, Honeywell and Schneider attack small buildings, and the hype of air purification

  3. Brand new stuff: A new podcast, Pro member digest, and a new “OS”

  4. 🧱 Foundations: Mapping use cases to the bottom (or top) line

  5. 🌎 Diversions: What is containerization?

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

Enjoy!


1. 🤔 On my mind this week

I’m excited to be joining the next cohort of the Real Innovation Academy’s Future Proof Office course, which starts this week. I just read Dror Poleg’s book Rethinking Real Estate—this course is taught by him and Antony Slumbers. I’ll let you know how it goes and what I learn!

What questions do you have on the future of office buildings?


2. 💡 Insights

Only the best smart building resources we consumed this week…

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Connected Complexity—An interview and whitepaper with Padi founder Anto Budiardjo on what most people are missing about system integration.

The PADI platform’s magic lies in how it achieves its connections among diverse equipment and systems. Its designers set as their goal the Shangri-la of integration—connecting anything to anything, no matter what or where a given “thing” was. This goal came out of Budiardjo’s long work in the device integration field, where he spent many years designing specialized drivers and one-off middleware for project-specific issues.

As anyone who has done this type of work knows, the solutions to these difficult challenges are not immediately reusable in other contexts, and the engineering also tends to be brittle and break under the slightest stress—for example, a single URL changing.

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Small Commercial Buildings Are a Big Opportunity for Technology Growth—94% of the commercial building in the US are made up of properties with under 50,000 square feet. And yet, traditional smart-building technologies have focused on the needs of large skyscrapers or sprawling corporate campuses.

The solution, however, must be a technical one that creates a lightweight and easily managed alternative to suit the scale and budget of the many smaller buildings looking for the benefits of smart technology.

This article profiles two such solutions from Schneider/Wattsense and Honeywell.

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The Magic Molekule—Fascinating story of an air purifier manufacturer who continued to raise venture money throughout the pandemic despite poor evidence of its effectiveness.

“I would estimate that the air-purification industry as a whole is 50 to 75 percent illegitimate. You’re dealing with an industry that doesn’t want consumers to understand these devices and how they work.”


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—🎧 #044: John Petze on Tridium's early days, founding SkySpark, and 10 years of Project Haystack

  • Industry icon John Petze shares insights and stories from his illustrious career in smart buildings, which started long before that term was even coined.

  • This is a fascinating history for those of you that weren't around back then!

  • And then we narrowed in on Tridium, SkyFoundry, and Project Haystack.

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DEEP DIVE—March 2021 Digest & Member Gathering Recording (Pro members only) on the latest trends in integration and data storage

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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:

PlaceOS—YAAS1 integration platform for smart buildings and one of the companies I learned about last week after asking for feedback in the Zapier for Buildings section of the newsletter. They did their first project at ASHRAE’s new HQ last fall.


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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One important skill for the Smart Building Champion is to map technology use cases to the business’s bottom or top line. The insightful Bricks, Mortar, and Carbon report from Morgan Stanley’s Real Estate Investment Group shows an example of how to do that for commercial real estate:

To make the business case for smart building tech, we often need to go as far as finding these line items in the budget spreadsheets.


5. 🌎 Diversions

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

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What’s Docker and what are containers?—If you’re like me and have been hearing of terms like Microservices and Docker this is a great read.

“Understanding these little container guys is a really important part of understanding modern software.”


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

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