3 min read

The power of "windshield time" [Nexus Newsletter #77]

Plus new GEB research and the sun setting on BMS as we know it

Hey friends,

When I was growing up, I loved road trips. Jumping in my mom’s navy blue minivan meant we were going to one of two places I loved to be: my grandparents’ house or a soccer tournament.

Early in my career, I found a third flavor of road trip I grew to love: 1-on-1 time with one of my mentors. “Windshield time” meant we were hitting the road to visit a building or campus in Arkansas or Kansas City or rural Illinois.

To my surprise, I learned to love these trips just as much as family trips from childhood. Why? Because the windshield time between St. Louis and our destination meant I got to ask any question I wanted.

My mentors, who were normally jumping from meeting to meeting all day, were suddenly captive… for hours.

I had Sterling or Sam or Anne for sales questions, Brett or Jim for project development and HVAC design, Kyle for controls and commissioning, and David or Brian for energy modeling. One boring midwestern highway at a time, they caught me up to speed on how this crazy industry works. And hearing them fire questions at facility managers helped too.

I now realize how rare this was… and not just because of COVID. It’s rare to have the quality and quantity of mentors I did. If you do, it’s rare to get so much uninterrupted time with them… our leaders are busy people.

It’s also rare to have this time outside of your company’s four walls. Frankly, from the moment the average new hire’s onboarding begins, they are inoculated with company-specific training and socialization (Our competition is evil, our solution is the best, etc). Getting out of the building helps you get out of the echo chamber for a minute.

Looking back on how lucky I was, I’ve realized there’s a lesson here for all of you ramping up your smart buildings hiring efforts (and I know that’s a lot of you!).

Here’s the lesson: there are actually two types of onboarding needed for new hires into the smart buildings industry.

On one hand, you need company-specific onboarding: it’s all about how your company does things. Almost every company already has this in place.

But you also need industry onboarding. The type that’s focused on what’s going on outside of a company’s four walls, how you fit into the bigger picture, and how you can be successful in the broader ecosystem.

And we need it now more than ever. To help, I created a free checklist for this second type of onboarding. It’s got the 6 most important parts to make sure you’re covering.

Download the checklist

Let me know what you think!


P.S. Those that download will also get a note on how a few leading companies (like DLR Group, Facilio, and PointGuard) are approaching industry onboarding.

At the Nexus

Here’s what we published this week:

🎙️ #052: Rob Huntington on the shift to Converged Networks, MSIs, and the sun setting on the BMS—Continuing on our series of Aussie guests, this was a fun one to unpack. We talked about a couple of perhaps controversial opinions, observations, and predictions that Rob has about the future of building controls, networks, the role of the MSI, and the construction process itself.


May 2021 Digest & RecordingA collection of highlights from the month designed to save Nexus Pro members time and allow them to catch up on the whole month. (Pro members only)

Signal vs. Noise

Only the best smart building resources we consumed this week…


LBNL released A National Roadmap for Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings and NREL published A guide to implementing GEBs in federal buildings—Both of these documents advance the current state of the art for grid-interactive buildings.

“DOE’s National Goal for GEBs: Triple the energy efficiency and demand flexibility of the buildings sector by 2030 relative to 2020 levels.”

“The cumulative power system benefits from 2021 to 2040 could reach $100 billion to $200 billion.”

That’s all for this week—thanks for reading the Nexus newsletter by Nexus Labs, a blog, podcast, membership community, and online school for smart people applying smart building technology—written by me, James Dice. If you’re new to Nexus, you might want to start here.