Presented By: REBNY
REBNY Challenge Is Elevating the Conversation Between Proptech and Real Estate
Can the intersection between the tech and real estate industries help to solve some of the greatest challenges that cities are confronting in the 21st century? The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) believes so — and it’s been working to advance that discussion in partnership with the proptech community through an annual event known as REBNY’s PropTech Challenge.
Soliciting submissions from a wide array of technology teams — from budding startups to Silicon Valley behemoths to tech minds from major construction companies, ownership groups and brokerage firms — the PropTech Challenge has spurred a wide range of stakeholders to invest in solutions designed to further optimize the built environment to address the needs of residents, office tenants and communities.
“Despite being a basic need for the economy of every city across the world, the real estate industry has invested in technology and innovation for decades,” said Sandy Jacolow, member of REBNY’s technology committee and a founder of the PropTech Challenge. “Technology has enabled real estate businesses to execute transactions with greater velocity, gather market data more thoroughly and operate buildings with better efficiency and user experience.”
“We want to cultivate greater functionality in major buildings to position them to lead innovation in our cities for the next 100 years,” Jacolow added, “and the PropTech Challenge is helping connect the dots between stakeholders to accomplish this goal.”
The PropTech Challenge began in 2017 and was known at that time as the REBNY Tech Hackathon. It brought the proptech community together to see what ideas they could come up with in a weekend of problem-solving dedicated to answering questions facing major building owners. The challenge has evolved into a way for the industry to identify leading best-in-class technologies that demonstrate strong product-market fits.
Each year, the challenge culminates in an event — also known as “Demo Day” — that serves as a dynamic forum between building owners, tenant representatives and proptech visionaries. REBNY is seeing that those conversations are leading to collaboration that has the potential to shape the future of New York City and its buildings. Topics addressed at the event in years past include leveraging blockchain to improve operations in the industry, bringing real estate into the Internet of Things and how owners can support residents and tenants return to properties safely following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, the challenge partnered with New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Building Energy Exchange to investigate and quantify the relationship between occupancy and energy consumption, and then use these insights to guide landlord and tenants on their energy-saving strategies. Sidewalk Labs took home the top prize.
This year, REBNY is engaging the proptech community to put forth ideas that can aid building owners in their ongoing efforts to increase energy efficiency and ultimately achieve the long-term goal of getting their properties to carbon net zero.
“Our members are early adopters and innovators of energy efficiency and represent some of the world’s leading experts in reducing carbon from the built environment,” said Chris Beach, REBNY’s chief technology officer. “We are optimistic that this year’s challenge will bring forward new innovative solutions that the industry can adopt to achieve our goals of powering the buildings that power our economy in an even more sustainable way.”
REBNY members have long supported decarbonizing New York’s building stock and investing in renewable solutions. The path to long-term progress in major buildings is more complicated than most outside observers might assume – for example, even in new, state-of the-art buildings, high energy consumption from densely packed office tenants can make it exceedingly difficult to reduce overall carbon emissions. The submission process for this year’s PropTech Challenge included decarbonization problem sets representative of the questions that the real estate industry must address using innovative technologies.
The four categories for this year’s challenge include: 1) Carbon measurement, verification, reporting and accounting, 2) Building and tenant — energy management and optimization, 3) Energy storage, and 4) Embodied carbon and carbon capture.
After reviewing dozens of insightful submissions, this year’s expert judges have just released the list of 2022 finalists. They include:
- Category 3 Finalists
- Category 4 Finalists
This year’s PropTech Challenge Demo Day event will take place on Tuesday, April 19, and as in years past it will put a spotlight on the finalists’ ideas and solutions to the problem sets. With the help of event hosting partner Convene, Demo Day will take a deeper dive into the sustainability issue through panel discussions, live tech demonstrations and networking opportunities.
Another topic that will be part of the conversation on April 19 is that the path to sustainability will depend on close collaboration between not only building owners and tech minds but also the public sector. In consideration of this, REBNY brought on NYSERDA as its public sector partner in this year’s challenge. Commercial Observer is a leader in advancing the proptech conversation and will also support the event as a media partner.
“To achieve New York’s nation-leading climate goals and reduce carbon emissions in buildings, we need private sector leadership and innovation,” said Janet Joseph, senior vice president for strategy and market development at NYSERDA. “NYSERDA is excited to partner with REBNY on this year’s PropTech Challenge and send a clear signal that now is the time for best-in-class solution providers from around the world to bring their technologies and services to New York and work with us to decarbonize buildings and create better places to live and work.”
“As the industry seeks to bring tenants back to a better office or help residents feel safer in residential buildings with new health- and wellness-focused amenities, we cannot slow down the rate of progress and investment in building sustainability,” Beach said.
“This year’s challenge will help identify ways owners can decarbonize buildings to not only meet increasingly significant sustainability regulations but maximize investments to reshape, reimagine and future-proof our skylines.”