4 min read

The most important data for smarter buildings [Nexus Newsletter #147]

This edition of the Nexus Newsletter is brought to you by Butlr and Tietoa.

Hey friends,

What's the most important type of data for creating smarter buildings?

I'd argue that for every type of building except data centers, it's occupancy data.

Why? Here's a non-conclusive list of reasons:

  • It helps building owners (and tenant businesses) understand how their customers are using the space, from office workers to retail customers to school students.
  • It helps optimize the Three S's that are vital to controlling building systems and getting to full autonomy: Setpoints, Schedules, and Sequences of Operations.
  • It helps solve for the optimal balance between the competing goals of better IAQ and lower energy use.
  • It can help improve occupants' experience and find the right space to suit their current needs.

No other type of data can benefit so many building stakeholders.

For good reason, there's been a lot of innovation in this space lately.

Recent trends, sourced from the amazing Nexus Pro chatroom:

  • Granularity—out with binary occupancy sensors and in with people counting, real-time location, and peal-and-stick seat-level sensors.
  • Leveraging access control & security cameras—As Lee Odess discussed on the Nexus podcast, sensors might not even be needed if existing systems can be the source of good occupancy data. When it's a camera feed, ML can help...
  • Privacy fears—more granularity means more concern for invasion
  • Sensor-only vs. Full Stack vs. API-first—the old way was to connect a sensor to the local lighting or BAS controller. New ways bring new architectures and new integration challenges.
  • Sensor+analytics teamwork—New types of sensors (body heat, cameras, counters, etc) come packaged with proprietary cloud analytics that crunch the data. Each need the other.
  • "Best available" occupancy data—Across a portfolio, occupancy information might come from 15+ different sources. An overlay software or independent data layer is needed to abstract away that complexity.

Nexus Pro members can go deeper with the September 2021 edition of The Lens, which dives right into this topic, including unpacking the trends, recent news, players, and latest fundings.

Join Nexus Pro to get access to that and the community that brought you these insights.

—James Dice, Founder of Nexus Labs

P.S. Did you see last week's announcement?

A message from our partner, Butlr:

Occupancy data drives a variety of use cases across workplace experience, real estate planning and smart FM and is too valuable to be siloed in a walled garden. Every building and workplace would benefit from accurate, private, cost effective occupancy data accessible via API.

Listen to The Nexus Podcast with Rags Gupta, President of Butlr, on their approach to providing accurate API-first occupancy data at a fraction of the cost while not being physically able to collect personally identifiable information.

✖ At the Nexus

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


★ PODCAST: 🎧 #120: Fixing Offsets and Decarbonizing Buildings with McGee YoungEpisode 120 is a conversation with McGee Young, founder and CEO of WattCarbon.

We outline one of the most important journeys I think our industry needs to go on: The transition from energy management to carbon reduction, from lowest-cost carbon accounting to highest impact carbon accounting, and from any renewables are good to valuing renewables based on location and time of production.

Underpinning all of that is the need for a data platform to help calculate, understand, and value carbon and unite energy consumed in buildings or produced by DERs with the carbon-intensity of the grid at that location and time. That’s what WattCarbon is building.



  • New Member Orientation: Nexus Founder, James Dice, hosts 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. October 5 @ 1:00pm MT
  • Subject Matter Expert Workshop: CTO and Co-Founder of SmartLocus, Inc., Victor Taylor, will lead us with A Primer on Machine Learning. October 13 @ 9:00 am MT.
  • Member Gathering: TBA October 26 @ 9:00am MT.

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


★ ON LINKEDIN: 3 things I love about Dartmouth College's budding smart buildings program


★ READ OF THE WEEK: Crypto Darling Helium Promised A ‘People’s Network.’ Instead, Its Executives Got Rich.


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

It's got great jobs from Belimo, Vigilent Corporation, Grosvenor Engineering Group, Siemens, Virtual Facility, Clockworks Analytics, Watts, and LMRE.

Belimo is looking for a Smart Building Specialist. Belimo produces millions of sensors and actuators for the HVAC industry. All their devices have a digital identity and participate in the Belimo Digital Ecosystem. This job will enable you to develop your skills further and make a difference in an ecosystem of small devices with a big impact.

A message from our partner, Tietoa:

After participating in the Nexus Foundations course, Sam Kovar is hooked on smart buildings. As an outsider, he sees a future where this industry can move forward faster with better communications. He wants to be an independent creative resource (15+ years of experience in strategic communications, creative consulting, and technical execution for video, animation, and photography) for helping the Nexus community connect to their customers and grow their audiences.

Connect with Sam by filling out this contact form.

👋 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)

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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.