The Smart Building Strategist Course

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New to smart buildings?

We'll help you shortcut your learning curve and connect you with a global community of gamechangers.  

We are living in a remarkable moment in the buildings industry.

Buildings are now required to digitize, decarbonize, protect the health of occupants, and provide those occupants with a great user experience—all while realizing the business results of each of the stakeholders involved.

Those are huge expectations!

And given how buildings are built and operated today, this brings us to an uncomfortable truth: we all need to level up. The old ways are no longer good enough.

That’s why I decided to create Smart Building Strategist (formerly Foundations): These changes require a new type of leader.

👋 Hey there, I’m James

If we haven't met before, I write the Nexus newsletter, host the Nexus podcast, and founded the Nexus Pro community.

I created the Smart Building Strategist (formerly Foundations) course to share everything I wish someone would have told me in my first 10 years in the smart buildings industry. I'll show you how to avoid common pitfalls and roadblocks that got in my way and continue to plague projects across the world.

"James has the background and a great perspective on the industry. He has developed a very comprehensive approach to how smart building professionals can tailor solutions, anticipate problems, and manage a smooth implementation."

—Aaron Michels,  Smart Building Strategist course alumnus

When I was starting out, I didn’t have a shortcut.

I knew things needed to change, but I had no idea where to start. So I just started doing stuff.

Along the way, I learned a lot about how NOT to create smart buildings. I now call these summarize these lessons as our industry’s big myths. You’ve likely seen them too, even if you didn’t realize it:

  1. A smart building is created by a single technology
  2. A smart building is created by a single project
  3. We’re all on different teams
  4. Someone has this all figured out
“The best value of the Foundations course is being able to see through all the BS out there. It’s like x-ray vision for smart building marketing fluff.”
—Cohort 2 Alum

And because hindsight is 20/20, I can now see what I did that worked beautifully and what was a huge waste of time (that I didn't feel like I had to waste).

That's why I created this shortcut for others

Here's my advice: When you’re combining fast-moving technology with decades of history and technical debt, you need a new approach to learning and personal development.

You can learn to copy what worked well for me:

  • I dove into the history of our industry and why it creates dumb buildings (It's actually fascinating! And a perfect problem to spend your career on)
  • I started learning about where technology was headed, using other industries as examples
  • I looked at the buildings I knew and realized they didn't have a plan. Worse than that, they didn't have a strategy to inform the plan. So I created a process for building a Smart Building Strategy that could be applied to any building or portfolio.
  • I started building what I now consider my personal monopoly in smart buildings—the things no one can compete with me on


After the course, you will be:

🙌 CONNECTED to a community of like-minded change-makers

📍 ORIENTED to our industry's context, where technology fits, how it's changing, and your unique role

✔️ CAPABLE of interviewing key stakeholders, assessing a building on how smart it is, creating a roadmap, evaluating new technology, and keeping up with new technology trends.


Week 1—Stakeholders

Why we need smart buildings, how to define smartness in terms of the key stakeholders, and introduction to Smart Building Strategy.

"Week 1 was eye-opening for me because it gave me a better understanding of the importance of developing stakeholder-centric strategies."
—Cohort 1 student

Week 2—Ideation

Understanding the people involved in a smart building, their workflows, and mapping use cases to them. Creating the vision part of the strategy.

"I enjoyed the first 3 weeks the most. I really like the framework for thinking about the technical aspects of building systems and how they overlap and interlink."
—Cohort 1 student

Week 3—Assessments

Obstacles to smart buildings in the facilities and construction industries, framework for assessing a portfolio for smartness, overview of building system technologies.

"I knew buildings are dumb, but to walk through the different "dumb building factors" was very informative."
—Cohort 1 student

Week 4—Research

Overview of the smart buildings tech market, using the Nexus Evaluation Framework to evaluate new tech, mapping use cases to capabilities, snapshot of cutting edge technologies, and how to stay up to date with the rapid pace of change.

"The Nexus framework is incredible for understanding the difference between technologies."
—Claire Quinn, Cohort 1 alum, Business Development at Cortex Building Intelligence
"I really liked the process of evaluating technologies, the methodology is extremely simple and easy to use."
—Cohort 1 student

Week 5—The Business Case

Tangible and intangible value propositions and how they impact stakeholders, technology procurement, financial models, finalizing the smart building strategy.

“After week 5, I was able to put together the ROI -- and not just in $ -- but in a value meaningful to the decision maker."
—Cohort 1 student
"I really enjoyed week 5 because it tied all the loose ends and packaged the course material into processes/tools that I can actually put into action. With this I can start standardizing and tracking the progress of our Smart Building program going forward!"
—Sean Amyot, Cohort 1 alum, Oxford Properties

Week 6—Building your unique Foundation

Using what you learned in Modules 1-5 to create your unique action plan for making an impact in our amazing industry.

“Understanding this course helped me to step up to the plate. Now it's time to learn even more to affect change in an impactful way.”
—Cohort 2 student

Who's this course for?

This course is designed for:

  • Those who are new to the buildings industry and want to understand the history, norms, and status quo
  • Those who are new to smart building technology and want to understand how it's changing the industry
"I truly believe that this course is the most important one to take before you get specific or technical with what you focus on. Whether you are new or have been working in this industry for decades, this is the new and evolving "back to basics" and our "experienced" industry professionals better get on board!"

—Chad Ruch, Foundations course alumnus
  • Smart Building Strategist is for professionals who want a vendor-agnostic method to level up their understanding of and career in smart buildings.
  • It’s also for people who would rather not figure it out on their own, and are looking for guidance and others to do it with.
  • Finally, this is for people serious about making change in the built environment.


With alumni from these amazing companies and students from many more, you'll join in a world class network of industry change-makers.


With alumni from 13 countries and students from all over the world, you'll get a truly global perspective.

Who’s this NOT for?

  • This is not for someone expecting us to go deep into a single building system or one type of technology. That said, we will dive deep into practical and real world examples.
  • This is not for someone who’s not willing to invest in their career.
  • This is not for someone that’s only looking for letters behind their name or a fancy certificate.
  • This is not for people looking for a magic bullet. Like anything worth achieving, making a real impact requires hard work. Making the payment for this program is only the first step on an exciting journey.
  • This is probably not for someone who wants to learn about smart homes or buildings under 25,000 square feet, although our frameworks do apply there too.

The value you’ll get

If you join the program, you’ll soon meet Maureen the Mentor and Charlie the Champion. This program is modeled after the experience an ambitious newbie to the industry (Charlie) would have if an experienced veteran (Maureen) took him under her wing.

And since most of us don’t have access to someone like Maureen, the course goes one step further: it provides the tools to mimic Maureen’s guidance long after the program ends.

The first five weeks are centered around how to build and then implement a Smart Building Strategy. Each week also has little goodies sprinkled in:

  • Industry history
  • Case studies
  • Cutting edge technology
  • Practical examples

Then, the finale, Week 6, is all about building your personal master plan. How will you use what you’ve learned to make your mark?

What does that look like in practice? The program has four main components:

  • Educational Content—Each week, we’ll release video lectures that you can watch on your own time
  • Community Chatroom—Your fellow students (and your instructors) are always available 24/7 in the chatroom for connecting, asking questions, and getting feedback
  • Weekly Zoom Workshops—We’ll meet live once per week throughout the program so you can ask questions, hear from subject matter experts on that week’s material, and reinforce the lectures
  • Team Projects—You’ll have the amazing opportunity to join a team to progress through the program with

The result? You’ll have new relationships and you’ll transform your skills. Here are the very specific skills you’ll learn along the way:

  • I can identify key stakeholders and conduct interviews to understand them.
  • I can assess a building/portfolio for how well existing technology meets key stakeholders’ needs and determine opportunities and obstacles.
  • I can lead an exercise that determines specific use cases for new technology and articulate a clear smart building vision.
  • I can evaluate new technology and map capabilities to use cases.
  • I can put together the business case for the smart building journey.
  • I have an evolving plan for making my mark on the industry

Along the way, you’ll learn to use the handy tools we provide in the course to help at each of these steps:

  • The Stakeholder Interview Framework
  • Persona and Use Case Templates
  • The DIY Scorecard
  • The Nexus Evaluation Framework
  • The Non-fluffy ROI Checklist
  • The Smart Building Career Planner
  • The Case Study (that ties it all together)


The Nexus Labs online courses offering is a hybrid between an on-demand model and a cohort-based model. We know that students have busy lives and they want the flexibility to learn on their own time. We also know that they value meeting likeminded people and connecting with them as they learn.

So we've designed an experience to give you the best of both worlds: On demand + Community.


  • Self-paced content (1-2 hours per module for 6 modules)
  • Interactive video workshops on Zoom (1.5 hours per quarter)
  • Reflections and interaction in the chatroom (0.5-1 hour per module for 6 modules)

Want More Info? 

Sign up for our email series that explains the course, why we created it, and more.

If you're ready to join now, enroll here.


“I have never been part of an education with such a complete overview of a challenging situation. It was worth every penny!”
“I think setting a holistic and programmatic approach is super valuable. The offerings, touched systems, and potential roadblocks are quite numerous so finding a way to navigate it all in an organized way is critical.”
“I had an assumption there would be a deeper dive into actual controls, hvac, etc -- but after running through the course -- I'm not sure that is the intent here -- there are more focused courses for the stuff which probably are a peer to this course which pulls it all together.”
“This was a great course!  It really helped me to understand why it was critical for the IT and OT side need to work together during the construction and operational phases of a building.  I better understand the business challenges and how to work with clients to help solve their challenges. “
“Unique in that it really was accessible and useful to many different levels of expertise and roles across the industry, covering policy, product, building operator, consultant, etc.”
“Anyone senior in CRE would be better informed about smart buildings after doing this course. Best value = seeing through the BS often written about smart buildings.”
"I loved all the lessons... they're very informative and to the point. In the beginning, I was a little skeptical about how it would benefit myself and our organization, but later it became clear. We are facing the same issues you described."
"It’s the general tone that strikes me most. It’s a kind of pragmatic “yeah, that’s cool tech but what problem does it solve?” message that reminds me of how Tristan Harris demystifies the broader tech world. I’m particularly enjoying the break-out rooms by the way."
"As a SaaS vendor in this space, what you teach definitely has to be implemented in our go-to-market strategy and approach to customers."
"The course has been helpful in getting our team moving on our Smart Building Strategy. And the people participating and the networking opportunities are one of the biggest benefits of the course for us."
"Learning a lot and very much enjoying the course. Evermore convinced about ‘know your customer’ and ‘jobs-to-be-done’ being the essential starting point of ‘everything’ in smart buildings. I'm a happy customer."
“True to the name, it’s a great foundation course for someone in the industry to get a bigger picture of what's happening in the facilities management / buildings and provides some structure to think about how they can go about evaluating opportunities and set them up on how to innovate.”
“The course does an excellent job of identifying the different pieces you need to keep in mind to solve a Smart Buildings problem (Stakeholders, Business Case, etc.), while still balancing the fact that all of those pieces are interconnected and affect each other.”
“Collaborating with people outside of your own four walls is a big deal to getting a fresh perspective on what problems you're actually trying to solve and what role you can play in the industry. The different modules provided kickstarts to some eye-opening conversations with other cohort members that you can't get internally.”

A final word...

If you don’t go on this journey with us, please, learn this from someone.

You spend a significant chunk of your life working to make buildings better. Don’t hold yourself back because you’re missing the technology piece. It’s not rocket science. It’s a skill, like anything else. And it's not all that difficult, once you get the basics down.

Don’t learn this from scratch. Follow the guidance of someone who’s been down the road before and made the mistakes. I made those mistakes so you don’t have to.

If you’re ready to ride this tidal wave of smart building technology, we’d be honored to support you as you grow your career.


How long is the course?

The Nexus Labs courses offering is an annual access subscription. For one annual fee, you get access to this course, Smart Building Strategist, plus all the other courses we're working on releasing soon. That means you'll have access to this course for one year from the day you purchase the subscription.

For Smart Building Strategist, we recommend budgeting about 12 hours to work through the self-paced content, then another 6-12 hours per year for workshops and connecting in the chatroom.

What are my other options for learning this?

There are plenty of other programs, books, and resources out there. Email us at and we’ll even send you some to check out.

However, we believe that if your goal is to level up and shortcut that learning curve, Smart Building Strategist is the #1 choice in the industry.

What if I’m a true beginner, with no prior knowledge of the industry or technology?

We get this question all the time, so you're not alone here! The course is designed to be beginner-friendly, so you shouldn't worry about being in over your head from a technical standpoint. Through the first 6 cohorts, we've had over 100 true beginners and they all had 100% glowing reviews of the course.

One thing we recommend you know before you jump in: Most of your fellow students will not be 100% beginners, so sometimes beginners say they're apprehensive to ask "dumb questions". We'll do our best to make you feel comfortable and there's always the option to send your questions in a private chat with me, other instructors, or other students.

What will I do inside the program?

You’ll watch the training videos.

You’ll show up to Q&A calls, you’ll ask questions. You’ll take action on your team projects, using the excellent templates and examples we provide you.

You’ll get to know the other rock star changemakers in our private group.

You’ll share your wins and cheer on your peers.

Tell me more about the live workshops...

Was there a question in there? Just kidding...

Each instructor in our Courses offering hosts quarterly live workshops on Zoom. These are recorded in case you can't make it. If you're on a different time zone, the instructor will rotate the timing so that you can make a few live sessions per year.

These workshops are designed to allow you to meet your fellow students. They're also designed to review and explore one of the course's key frameworks. The instructor will bring a real like example that you'll apply each framework on.

You'll have fun, learn, and connect! 

What about office hours?

Of course! Each course instructor hosts monthly office hours on Zoom so you can ask questions and have a discussion with the experts.

Don't forget that you can also ask your question in our chatroom whenever you'd like too.

Do I need to recruit building owner/management support to be able to participate in the program?

No, you do not. We have a case study that you can use to test out the frameworks in a realistic scenario. That said, the frameworks are structured so they can and should be applied to the real world, so you have that option too.

Will I pay back my investment?

Great question. In week five of the program, students learn how to create the business case for smart building technology. At the core is the return on investment (ROI), which needs to be rock solid.

You should absolutely do the math on Nexus  Smart Building Strategist too. Calculate the ROI just as diligently as you would expect a building owner to do when evaluating cutting edge tech.

Here’s some food for thought for that calculation. What if just one idea, tactic, strategy, relationship, template, or tool led to just one of these results:

  • Your salary goes up
  • Your company wins more projects
  • You can charge higher rates
  • You waste less time
  • Your projects have fewer change orders
  • You’re more educated on how to buy technology from your vendors
  • You build a better network that you can lean on next time you get stuck
  • You build a better career plan

What if I want my money back?

If the topic of a refund is top of mind, please don’t enroll. This is for people who know they want this. That said, we know this is a major financial investment. And we will do everything in our power to make sure you feel supported, and that you succeed. Customer satisfaction is our #1 goal, and we want this decision to be 100% risk-free, so you can focus on learning. If you decide the course didn't deliver on its promise for any reason, just let us know by the end your first two weeks and as long as you've made an effort we'll refund your payment.

Can you help get reimbursed by my employer?

Need help getting reimbursed by your employer? Most large organizations, and many smaller ones, will reimburse tuition for professional development. You can request funding with our handy proposal template.

"I was concerned that my company wouldn't pay, but it was actually an easy ask. I found it was well worth the investment and know my company agrees."

—Cohort 1 student
"Nexus Labs offers a great way for new hires in the building tech space to get up to speed on the trends and terminology as well as the challenges facing our sector. We recently enrolled a new biz dev hire in the program and it really helped them as well as saved our team hours for training time. They were in good hands with James and learned from the other students as well. Well worth it!”
—Shannon Smith, CEO of PointGuard

Do you have scholarships?

Yes, we do! Nexus Smart Building Strategist isn’t just a business for us. We believe that making this training available to as many people as possible is critical to our future. That is why we’re now offering a select number of needs-based scholarships. Apply here.

Other questions?

Email us at

Ready to enroll? Enroll now.

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