4 min read

With the end in mind [Nexus Newsletter #90]

Quick announcement before we begin: Last call to join Nexus Foundations Cohort 3 along with 40+ other changemakers and newcomers - it's on sale for just one more day. Oh, and the alumni are jazzed about it...

“I have never been part of an educational experience with such a complete overview of a challenging situation. It was worth every penny!”

Hey friends,

Last week, I read Bill Gates' book called How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.

I found it a great synthesis that helped me understand how the carbon emissions of buildings fit in with the broader decarbonization effort. It's also a relatively quick read considering the scope—I read it in two plane rides.

I wanted to share two takeaways that are relevant for our industry's journey inside of our civilization's broader journey.

#1—Work on Technology, Policy, and Markets at the Same Time

Here's Bill:

"Markets, technology, and policy are like three levers that we need to pull in order to wean ourselves from fossil fuels. We need to pull all three of them at the same time and in the same direction."

For buildings, the technology is mostly there. We need more people to implement it and perhaps improved technology that doesn't require as many of them.

Where we fall short, is in policies and markets that are aligned with the fastest deployment of existing technology. We must find all the "Green Premiums", as Bill calls them, that make it financially viable to emit carbon and create financial incentives that remove them.

The upcoming week's Nexus podcast has more on this, but it's an area we must keep talking about.

#2—Begin with the end in mind

That's not what Bill called this section, but I'm paraphrasing and adding some Covey flair. This one is food for thought for all the energy engineers and sustainability folks out there.

"It might seem like 'Reduce by 2030' and 'Get to zero by 2050' are complimentary goals. Isn't 2030 a stop on the way to 2050?​Not necessarily. Making reductions in the wrong way by 2030 might actually prevent us from getting to zero."

Because of how hard this journey will be (see last week's newsletter), we need every minute and every dollar aligned on the right goal: Zero. Not simply reduce.

Consider this point in the context of an energy retrofit. If I replace an inefficient gas-fired boiler with a more efficient one, I'm reducing but I'm not putting that building on the road to ZERO. I'm spending money to keep that building dependent on carbon for another 20-30 years.

This point really surprised me and got me thinking...

Have you read the book? What do you think about the journey ahead?


P.S. Last week, in a poll of Nexus Pro members, 40+% said the journey to zero carbon buildings by 2050 is possible and we got this. Do you agree?

At the Nexus

Here’s everything we published this week:

🎧 #065: Troy Harvey on the Quantum Digital Twin Standard and enabling fully autonomous buildingsI loved our first episode with Troy and this was a great update on where PassiveLogic is on their journey after raising a Series A and more than quadrupling their headcount.

Then we took a deep, deep dive into digital twins, The Quantum Digital Twin standard, how it relates to other ontology efforts, why it's needed, what it enables, what types of AI it's using, and more.



Live Broadcast #3: WiredScore and Hines on Defining and Scoring "Smart" Buildings—Trust me when I say this was far, far under-attended, considering how insightful this session was (the panelists... not me!). If you didn't make it, check out the recording.

[Our Live Broadcast recordings normally for members only... enjoy this free preview!]


Nexus Whitepapers—We just added this new page to our (new-ish) website. It's an archive of the whitepapers we've written with our partners. More to come soon!

Signal vs. Noise

Only the best smart building resources we consumed this week…


Who Cares About Energy Codes? The architect’s guide to New York City’s aggressive carbon reduction code

These new laws (Local Law 32 and Local Law 97) may make architects a target for lawsuits related to financial penalties imposed on poorly performing buildings.

Definitely scroll to the end and check out how the whole architecture process needs to change:


BIM, Revit, and the Database Dream—A must read for all the digital twin fans out there. Not because digital twins = BIM of course, but because the core lessons overlap. That is, the reasons BIM has been held back aren't necessarily being solved by today's twinning solutions.

"A little bit of searching will yield approximately 100,000 articles about how BIM is the future of construction, stretching back to the early 2000s.​Despite-slash-because of the hype around it, it’s often very hard to untangle exactly what BIM lets you accomplish."


That's all for this week! Thanks for reading. 👋