For the past six years, the PropTech Challenge has been a prominent contest where innovators in real estate technology compete for both recognition and prize money. This competition stands out for requiring participants to demonstrate the real-world utility of their products. Judges, who are experts in their fields, select winners based on the uniqueness and applicability of the solutions presented. In a significant development this year, Propmodo joins as a partner, adding to the prestige and reach of the event. The 2023 challenge is notably centered on carbon solutions, reflecting the growing emphasis on ESG reporting and the enactment of carbon reduction laws globally. The category of carbon solutions is extensive, encompassing technologies like building management systems, energy optimization platforms, carbon capture systems, distributed energy resources, and carbon strategy software.
Unlike in prior competitions, this year’s challenge tackles a problem that requires more than just technology to solve. As common as ESG and carbon commitments have become in real estate, there is still quite a bit of uncertainty around how to pay for required upgrades. “Building decarbonization goals are quickly becoming table stakes,” said Ryan J. S. Baxter, Carbon Strategist at 5 and Co-Founder of the PropTech Challenge, “but justifications for incorporating these technologies, like green premiums, brown discounts, and faster lease-ups, are becoming evident.” The business case, innovation, and practical implementation of each solution will be the focus of the judges in this year’s contest.
Submissions came from twenty-one companies from around the world. “We were really happy to see the diversity of submissions we received this year, ranging from a 29,000-plus person firm down through new startups with only one full-time employee,” Baxter said. Unlike other industry awards, the PropTech Challenge was launched to democratize access to the real-world problems affecting NYC real estate. That means that a relatively unknown startup has just as good of a chance to win as the industry leaders.
The hope is that these contests can not only highlight some of the most innovative technologies they can also help consumers understand the difference between the different solutions available to them. “While only one submission can win the prize, we try our best to highlight the benefits of all of the companies that competed,” Baxter explained. The judges will talk about the different solutions, as well as name the winner, at a live event on November 29th in Manhattan. The event has historically been a place where New York’s influential real estate industry leaders have been able to find new solutions for their portfolios. Seeing as how many of the buildings in New York City are now subject to strict energy-reduction laws thanks to Local Law 97, this year’s contestants will get even more attention from the portfolio managers in attendance.
Sponsored by energy advisory firm 5 and the well-known NY real estate owner Rudin, this year’s carbon strategy category saw a wide variety of approaches to emissions reduction and ESG initiatives. Ranging from purpose-built data models and emissions monitoring platforms to closed-loop geothermal wells, living walls, and carbon capture systems. Entrants also included marketplaces for embodied carbon products, sustainable finance solutions, and demand-side clean energy resources. Only 38 percent of submissions were software-only solutions.
One of the difficulties that carbon solutions often have is that they are not always applicable to every building. Depending on what systems a building uses, what reporting is needed from tenants and regulators, and where power is being procured, solutions can have different effectiveness. To take away this complexity, PropTech Challenge judges focus on what would work best for the New York City market. “If it works in NYC, it can work anywhere,” Baxter said. “New York City must become a carbon sink to stay at the pinnacle of decarbonization.” New York City was the first city to require buildings to report on and reduce their energy use, something that has been adopted in many other jurisdictions since.
The PropTech Challenge has always been one of the most anticipated events of the annual NYC Real Estate Tech Week. With the current political and social movement to reduce carbon emissions, the need for carbon solutions for commercial buildings has never been more important. Helping building owners understand and compare the options currently available on the market will hopefully help speed the adoption of these important technologies. Here are this year’s contestants. Although only one company will be able to win, all of them certainly play an important role in the critical task of helping our buildings reduce their carbon footprints.
2023 Propmodo PropTech Challenge Participants
Amrot – AMROT is an IT consulting company based in Tysons Corner, Virginia, specializing in SharePoint subject matter expertise.
Audette – Audette is a PropTech company creating actionable data-driven decarbonization plans for commercial real estate portfolios.
BlocPower – BlocPower is a climate technology company focused on building decarbonization in low-income communities.
BrainBox AI – BrainBox AI is a PropTech company that offers predictive and self-adaptive artificial intelligence to optimize buildings’ energy usage, carbon footprint, and operational efficiency.
Bueno Systems – Bueno’s Smart Building Analytics software delivers data-related and technology-driven services for building sectors and building information systems.
Cadence OneFive – Cadence OneFive’s Momentum(™) building decarbonization planning platform untangles the complications that delay multifamily retrofit and adaptation projects.
CarbonQuest – CarbonQuest is a carbon capture technology provider that enables its customers to support a circular economy while meeting ESG and net-zero goals with a cost-effective, turnkey solution.
The Cotocon Group – The Cotocon Group provides turnkey solutions that maximize peak performance and devise strategies through energy modeling, audits, and commissioning for its clients.
Eavor – Eavor is a geothermal technology-based energy company led by a team dedicated to creating a clean, reliable, and affordable energy future on a global scale.
EHDD – EHDD is a climate-positive architecture firm whose Early Phase Integrated Carbon (EPIC) assessment tool ensures the accuracy and reliability of embodied carbon calculations.
Parslii – Parslii is a research and rating system for retail and restaurant commercial real estate properties.
Pathways AI – Pathways automates the creation of Life Cycle Analyses and publication of Environmental Product Declarations for building materials like Concrete, Steel, Glass, Wood, and Gypsum.
ReVert Tech – ReVert Tech’s combination of hardware IoT plugs and AI automatically turns appliances off and on en masse, saving energy during after-hours or periods when spaces are unoccupied.
Rhino Energy – Rhino provides smart devices and software that help monitor the energy, water, and gas consumption of buildings to effectively manage energy, reduce CO2 emissions and draw up ESG reports.
Tangible Materials – Tangible’s software platform helps track, manage, and report on embodied carbon throughout the development process and across portfolios.
Thalo Labs – Thalo Labs provides a revolutionary new way to measure, reduce, and capture greenhouse gasses from the built environment.
Trane Technologies – Trane Technologies is a global climate innovator with an environmentally responsible portfolio of products and services for buildings, homes, and transportation.
WattCarbon – WattCarbon is an energy transition marketplace that enables climate buyers everywhere to fund high-impact decarbonization projects backed by revenue-grade reporting.
WeavAir – WeavAir offers a digital platform for direct measurement, reporting, and verification of greenhouse gas emissions for more effective ESG investment & energy transition implementation, financing & insurance.
Zauben – Zauben is a Chicago architecture startup that designs “living walls,” green roofs, and other plant-based systems for buildings.
Zero Circle – Zero Circle is an early-stage B2B green finance marketplace that simplifies access to green capital for organizations and SMBs.
Tickets to attend the Propmodo PropTech Challenge on Nov. 29th, 2023 in New York City can be purchased here.