JLL Acquires PropTech Building Operations Company Hank

Virtual engineering platform uses machine learning and AI to manage HVAC and other building operations

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Hard on the heels of acquiring building operations platform Building Engines for $300 million in November, JLL announced Thursday morning that it has acquired Hank, a virtual engineering platform that applies machine learning and AI to manage HVAC programming and target energy and equipment performance inefficiencies.

The Sacramento-based proptech company will operate within JLL Technologies (JLLT), a division of JLL, the company stated. A JLLT spokesperson declined to say how much the company paid to acquire Hank.

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“Our vision for the future of buildings is automated, AI-powered, smart and sustainable,” Sharad Rastogi, president at JLLT, said in a statement on the deal. “By joining JLL, Hank’s cutting-edge technology presents a major opportunity to drive efficiencies for our clients today and best anticipate the needs of tomorrow.”

The head of Hank said the deal affords the platform access to the resources of one of the world’s largest commercial real estate services firms.

“We have been working with [JLL] on a few applications for prominent customers for the last seven or eight months,”  said Zachary Denning, CEO of Hank, who will be director of sustainability product at JLLT. “We saw them as a technology leader in the space and it made a lot of sense to bolster our growth heading into [this] year.” The customers include office buildings and other commercial facilities, but not residential properties, Denning said.

Denning Headshot 2 JLL Acquires PropTech Building Operations Company Hank
Zachary Denning.

Founded in 2016, Hank’s system applies machine learning and AI to many of the commercial real estate industry’s largest operational challenges, including HVAC programming inconsistencies and energy and equipment performance inefficiencies, according to the proptech company. Its cloud-based platform optimizes energy efficiency, air quality, maintenance costs and tenant comfort—with the aim of ultimately delivering increased net operating income to real estate investors.

Hank says its technology not only boosts comfort and air quality within buildings, but also saves owners 15 to 30 percent in energy costs. It does this through controlling energy output and usage; reducing the volume of service calls by finding problems before tenants report them, and using software and algorithms that monitor and adjust conditions.

“The majority of the industry right now is looking at monitoring applications that tell users what they should do suggestively,” Denning said. “We use full end-to-end control. Hank actually goes into the building and takes over all control of all the HVAC and lighting, and we’re even thinking about starting to explore other technologies that make up building operations.

“So it then gives operators potential things that they can fix or repair physically in the building, which makes them much more efficient at their jobs.”

Hank will continue to serve its existing customers, and the company’s AI-powered technology will now be available to JLL clients.

Philip Russo can be reached at prusso@commercialobserver.com.