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An historic French office building has been retrofitted with a semiconductor-based heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system which will reduce both emissions and costs, the manufacturers claim.

Helsinki-based indoor air solutions company Halton Group and North Carolina-based semiconductor-based cooling solutions firm Phononic jointly developed the system, which has been fitted at Pierre Charron, a 102,257 sq ft office and retail building in Paris built in 1877.

The partners said this was the first installation of a semiconductor-based HVAC system which heats and cools an entire property. “We have an entirely new HVAC technology which helps property owners meet increasingly stringent climate goals,” said Anu Saxén, managing director at Halton.

The new technology will reduce energy use and carbon emissions by approximately 15%, and costs by about 20% compared with traditional systems, Halton and Phononic said.

"We wanted to provide our tenants with comfortable and environmentally sustainable spaces. This technology is an ideal solution for our purpose," says Francois Menage, CEO of Balzac REIM, which owns the building.

Installation of the new TTAP system

The system uses Terminal Treatment of Air with Peltier (TTAP) technology. When current is applied to the semiconductor-made Peltier cell, one side heats up, and the other cools down. This thermoelectronic phenomenon is used for temperature control in electronics and small coolers but has not previously been applied to a large-scale HVAC system.

Devices containing Peltier cells circulate air with their own fans, causing the air in a room to be either cooled or warmed. Fresh air from the ventilation unit flows into the space through the device.

"Cooling and heating often consume over 40% of the energy used in commercial buildings, so the industry is actively exploring ways to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. The announcement of the first TTAP project is a truly exciting moment for us," said Tony Atti, CEO of Phononic.

Halton and Phononic said the system was 20% cheaper than traditional HVAC systems over the building's lifecycle. Savings will be achieved, among other things, by not having cooling water networks, and using smaller water chillers. Fewer moving parts will mean lower maintenance costs.

Proptech venture capital firm Pi Labs has opened in Hong Kong and appointed Akina Ho to lead its Asia business.

Ho was co-founder of the Hong Kong Proptech Alliance, where she is an adviser, as well as an adjunct professor at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology. She was previously head of digital transformation and innovation at listed real estate company Great Eagle Holdings.

Pi Labs said its new presence in Asia had been driven by its increasingly global investor network and their growing requirements for specialist proptech investment expertise in the region.

Ho said: “With Pi Labs’ expansion into Asia, it will allow investors to have access to deep tech startups that help to digitalise and decarbonise the built world.  As proptech in Asia is moving seriously towards a more ESG-focused strategic direction, it is perfect timing for Pi Labs to enter Asia.”

Pi Labs founder Faisal Butt said: “Hong Kong is a key gateway to Asia and benefits from progressive real estate developers already taking bold steps to deploy the latest technology into the built world. We already have partners in Hong Kong including household names such as Swire Properties and continue to have meaningful discussions with world-class capital partners who are searching for the connectivity, deep industry knowledge, and investment expertise we have in built environment technology.”

More than nine in 10 occupiers in Asia Pacific said they would pay a premium for technology-enabled spaces and believe that technology will drive competitive advantages, a JLL survey found. 

JLL’s 2023 Global Real Estate Technology Survey found 93% of occupiers in the Asia Pacific region would pay more for high tech real estate, with a particular focus on green proptech.

As organisations worldwide look to technology for strategic value and increased revenue, 85% of occupiers and investors plan to increase their investment in technology despite the challenging operating environment. 

JLL’s research found sustainability tools – such as energy and emissions management tech and smart energy infrastructure – will account for the largest share of increases in technology budgets.

Innovations relating to air quality, solar PV, recycled building materials and more have won awards and funding from the CapitaLand Sustainability X Challenge.

The Singapore developer and investment manager presented 10 awards in total to companies offering sustainability solutions for real estate, which will be tested at CapitaLand properties worldwide. 

Four outstanding innovators:  viAct, Healthway Family of Brands, Ralos Enterprise Corporation) and Magorium won special recognition awards and will each receive S$150,000 to fund their pilots. A further six companies won S$75,000 each.

Vinamra Srivastava, chief sustainability officer, CapitaLand Investment, said: “Innovation is a key driver in our decarbonisation journey as we work towards our 2030 sustainability targets. Through platforms such as this challenge and our S$50 million CapitaLand Innovation Fund, we aim to support innovators to scale and commercialise their technologies to create a climate-resilient built environment. 

“Together with our other initiatives such as implementing green leases, collaborating with our tenants on green initiatives and sharing of sustainability best practices, we aim to expand our focus on reducing our scope 3 emissions too.”

Measurabl has appointed Maureen Waters as chief growth officer.

She joins from proptech venture capital firm Metaprop, where she was a partner. Previous roles include head of real estate at Bill Gates Investments and more than 15 years with Cushman & Wakefield.

In the new role she will direct the real estate ESG data platform’s overall growth strategy, including plans to expand in Asia. The appointment follows Measurabl raising $93 million in Series D funding. 

"Maureen Waters is a formidable addition to our leadership team, aligning perfectly with our mission to propel Measurabl's growth and amplify our impact on ESG and sustainability," said Matt Ellis, co-Founder & CEO of Measurabl.

"Her proven track record in scaling companies, coupled with her expertise in real estate, technology, and venture capital, make her an invaluable asset."

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Europe has announced the France and Switzerland regional winners for its PropTech Innovation Challenge.

Switzerland’s winner ShareP is a platform dedicated to promoting sustainable urban mobility. It optimises parking for businesses, residential buildings, sports arenas, and events and enables cities to better organise and plan urban parking. 

French winner Roofscapes seeks to adapt unused roof space into accessible green places to mitigate the effects of climate change and provide new outdoor areas in cities.

Sabine Georgi, executive director of ULI in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, said: “Our urban living spaces are facing immense challenges, and we need innovative solutions to be able to make cities liveable in the future. This competition has shown that the market not only has great ideas, but that there are also young people who have the courage to implement them.”

The first phase of the competition comprises six regional competitions, for France, Germany, Iberia, the Nordics, Switzerland, and the UK. Winners will participate in the second phase and the overall winner will be announced during the ULI Europe C Change Summit in Copenhagen on 11 October 2023.

A new programme has been launched for early-stage companies focused on sustainability challenges in the built environment and hospitality sectors.

The Rosewood Innovation Series is led by The Rosewood Foundation in partnership with Hong Kong proptech investor Undivided Ventures and supported by Rosewood Hotel Group. 

The programme will select four built environment start-ups which provide solutions for decarbonisation, circularity and resource efficiency, or social value challenges in the luxury hospitality industry. 

The companies have the chance to be mentored by senior executives from Rosewood and Undivided and to meet and exchange insights with other innovators. The programme will also showcase the work of the companies.

Applications close on August 23 and more details can be found here.

Amongst a sea of worrying reports from climate scientists, there has been more positive news on the green energy transition. The recent Global Electricity Review 2023 from Ember found that clean electricity sources, comprising both renewable and nuclear power, totalled 39% of total global electricity production.  

Moreover, the report also suggests climate emissions may have peaked in 2022 and may begin to decline. In terms of fossil fuel generation, the report found that coal power grew only by 1.1% and gas power generation fell about 0.2%, the second decline in three years. Much of the positive shift can be attributed to a rise in wind and solar energy which has reached a record 12% of global electricity production.  

However, renewables are just one component that should be progressed. Efforts should also focus on reducing energy usage and using energy more efficiently. Earlier this month, a report from McKinsey & Company titled Building value by decarbonising the built environment highlighted how existing technology can reduce emissions by more than 50% by 2030. 

The report looked at more than 1,000 potential decarbonisation interventions for the built environment and identifies what it says are 30 of the best levers for change in the near term. 

When it comes to reducing and using energy more efficiently, digital technologies have a huge potential to make an impact. In particular, decision-making technologies which augment human intelligence and sensing and control technologies which collect data and alter physical processes to be more sustainable. 

For example, Ecolibrium’s SmartSense AI tool assimilates thousands of IoT data points and creates a digital twin, offering insights into energy cost, usage, and carbon intensity. Utilising AI and machine learning, SmartSense establishes an optimised baseline, identifies abnormal consumption, benchmarks assets against set KPI’s, and provides a roadmap for continuous improvements towards net zero. 

Collectively, data-rich digital twin solutions can solve a huge number of issues by doing things such as identifying excessive energy consumption and providing predictive maintenance by early identification of failing on-site energy equipment. Companies can also simulate and test performance.

At a time when ESG stewardship is competing for attention with economic pressures and stretched resources, leaning on tech-driven energy efficiencies to drive down costs and help support the transition to renewables and decarbonise the built environment is a clear win. 

Chintan Soni, is founder and CEO of Ecolibrium

Measurabl has netted $93 million through a Series D round of venture capital fundraising.

The San Diego-based real estate ESG platform said the proceeds will go towards continued expansion of Measurabl’s ESG technology solutions for real estate, continued international expansion, and global partnerships.

The funding round was co-led by Energy Impact Partners and Sway Ventures. A global coalition of venture and strategic investors also participated, including Moderne Ventures, WVV, Suffolk Construction, Broadscale, Camber Creek, Salesforce Ventures, Building Ventures, Constellation Technology Ventures, Concrete Ventures, RET Ventures, Colliers, and Lincoln Property Company.

Matt Ellis, Measurabl co-founder and CEO, said: “This funding allows us to further enhance our market-leading ESG technologies, expand to new geographies, and ensure the real estate industry has the investment grade data necessary to transition to a sustainable,  profitable future for all.”

The company says that more than 16 billion sq ft of commercial, residential and corporate real estate across 93 countries is on the platform, enabling “unparalleled insights into peer-relative performance”.

Deepki, an Paris-based proptech platform, has announced the acquisition of Nooco, a French company which provides tools for carbon footprint measurement and optimisation in building projects.

The primary motive behind the acquisition is Deepki’s ambition to provide whole life cycle analysis of building energy and emissions performance, the company said. 

Deepki’s co-founders, Vincent Bryant and Emmanuel Blanchet, said, “Nooco is a highly advanced technology company that has become a true benchmark in the construction and renovation industry. Its offer is complementary to ours and will enable us to expand our expertise to better support the real estate industry as a whole.”

No financial details of the transaction were revealed.