🕰 TL;DR ➡️ Sign up to get our guide on learning how to become a smart building strategist and how you can apply my learnings into your career development.
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.
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
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:
“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).
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:
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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:
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:
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:
Along the way, you’ll learn to use the handy tools we provide in the course to help at each of these steps:
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.
ACTIVITIES & TIME COMMITMENT:
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.”
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.
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.
There are plenty of other programs, books, and resources out there. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
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.
Email us at email@example.com
Not quite ready? Sign up to get our guide on learning how to become a smart building strategist and how you can apply my learnings into your career development.
Head over to Nexus Connect and see what’s new in the community. Don’t forget to check out the latest member-only events.Go to Nexus Connect
Join Nexus Pro and get full access including invite-only member gatherings, access to the community chatroom Nexus Connect, networking opportunities, and deep dive essays.Sign Up