November 2021

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EMAIL INTERVIEWWhat is BIG ? BIG - Building Intelligence Group

(BIG) is a nationally incorporated non-profit association dedicated to promoting intelligent buildings' advancement

With Ben Wallace the co-founder of Minify Energy  & Ken Sinclair



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logoSinclair - What is BIG ?

Wallace - BIG- Building Intelligence Group (BIG) is a nationally incorporated non-profit association dedicated to promoting intelligent buildings' advancement. BIG is a cross-disciplinary networking and educational support organization dedicated to delivering high-tech intelligent commercial building solutions that maximize value for everyone who interacts with the built environment. 


We're something of a local IB support group. With local origins, we really seek to bring local market stakeholders together to meet, share information, experiences, and perspectives, while promoting smart buildings on a more global level.


Sinclair - Why haven't I heard of BIG until recently?

Wallace - Well, BIG was originally founded about four years ago in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota as Building Intelligence Group Twin Cities (BIG-TC), with casual gatherings, networking, and presentations among industry practitioners. It was something of a roving cocktail party, or more-accurately beer tasting, as we often hosted at one of the Twin Cities 80+ breweries or at the offices of whoever would be willing to host. 


It expanded to Chicago (BIG-CHI), with three years of collaborative efforts growing across the country, with chapter organizers formulating in Milwaukee, Iowa, Raleigh, Detroit, St Louis, and other markets across the country. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the growth of new chapters, but virtual meetings have allowed participants to join regardless of geography. 


Sinclair - Who are the members and who should participate?

Wallace - BIG members include consultants, contractors, integrators, architects, engineers, and various end-users, solution OEMs and service providers involved in Building Management Systems (BMS), Building Automation Systems (BAS), Property Technology (Proptech), and Internet of Things (IoT), among other disciplines. BIG is focused on practitioner and end-user knowledge sharing, communication, and education to demonstrate value to all stakeholders who interact with the built environment. 


We believe in being inclusive and representative of all who could benefit from IB, especially the building owners and managers. And we seek to involve students to help develop the workforce and collective knowledge about the promising future opportunities fueled by technology and data to make the built environment better for all, so they can work smarter and more efficiently - the buildings and the people. 


Sinclair - What are your offerings?

Wallace - We focus on awareness and knowledge sharing​, networking, and collaboration. So, much of our focus has been on programming development, in both local in-person gatherings and in virtual programming. We've covered topics ranging from data and information (ontologies like Project Haystack), energy, cyber-security, education, certification (e.g. Smart Score), toolkits, plus guided facility tours.


Our organization will provide leadership for areas of design standards, features and functions, and delivery methods for intelligent buildings. We seek to build support and demand for intelligent, connected buildings and advocate for value of open systems to end users. We work to establish a framework to provide a contracting vehicle for delivering intelligent, connected buildings. BIG promotes open, interoperable, and secure platforms and standardization that encourage community development and enable options for building stakeholders. We strive to break down the silos that have historically inhibited building-wide intelligence for the owners, operators, and tenants they were built to serve.


BIG specializes in concepts, processes, and solutions that provide tools, data, and insights for total situational awareness, with sensing and monitoring, control, response, and automation. We're also working to generate and share data to support Intelligent Building business cases that drive end-user decision support. BIG develops cross-disciplinary relationships, enabling well-aligned project teams to deliver high-value solutions more effectively and efficiently - recognize that the team selected for design, implementation, and support is critical to creating innovative and practical solutions. 


Sinclair - How can folks get involved in BIG?

Wallace - A good start is visiting to learn more about events and participation, sponsor, join a committee, and to explore chapter creation.


We’ll be launching a membership drive soon, though we invite all to participate with the above options, and we look forward to fostering a more intelligent building community looking forward! Thanks for your interest and support of BIG. 



Ben Wallace is co-founder of Minify Energy, a St. Paul MN based energy efficiency implementation firm, where he serves as a Building Solutions Consultant helping people & their buildings run SMART, CLEAN & WELL, leveraging smart building controls, utility data, LED lighting, efficient HVAC, IAQ optimization, water conservation, EV charging, solar PV and other building-performance solutions. Ben leads consulting, project development/implementation, go-to-market programs, and community engagement to accelerate smart, sustainable energy adoption and enhanced building environments. Ben is the incoming president of BIG - Building Intelligence Group for 2022 and as a founding core member of Smart North. Ben’s market experience includes strategic planning, partnerships, sustainability, building automation, IoT, software/web UX and development, IT integration, remote monitoring, open source, and BI/data analytics. When not caring for buildings and their stakeholders, Ben can be found biking, golfing, skiing, or enjoying a local live music venue.


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