The commercial real estate industry has a problem. It currently makes up 20% of global GHG emissions and most building owners don’t know how to reduce their carbon footprint. The good news is that every building in the world has access to the data, technology and capital to become carbon-free -- they just need some help putting it all together.
That’s where Audette comes in. The Victoria-headquartered cleantech company offers net-zero planning for commercial real estate portfolios. Audette’s proprietary AI-based technology builds and maintains carbon roadmaps for commercial buildings, helping make strategic decisions, compare decarbonization approaches, and maximize ROI. Some of the company’s notable partners include Onni Property Group, Colliers, and the Alberta Ecotrust Foundation.
Audette’s success has caught the eyes of investors across the globe. Last year, they secured $1M in seed funding and then followed that up with a $9.5M raise earlier this year from a group of leading cleantech investors. The capital infusion will accelerate Audette’s expansion plans and put the company’s technology in buildings across 150 North American cities over the next two years.
Our President + CEO, Raghwa Gopal, featured Audette earlier this year in his monthly column, noting that the proptech startup was one of several Victoria-based tech companies that were poised for significant growth.
We sat down with Audette’s CEO, Chris Naismith, to learn more about how his company is decarbonizing the commercial real estate industry through net zero planning.
Tell us about Audette. What do you do and why did you start the company?
Christopher: Audette is creating a carbon reduction pathway for every building on the planet. To activate the zero carbon economy, building owners must understand what projects to do and how it benefits them. Starting with institutional asset managers in North America, we are modeling every commercial building in 150 cities, finding the best ROI, and connecting owners with financing to make decarbonization happen.
I started Audette after a decade spent doing it the manual way. Many building owners, particularly sophisticated asset managers, recognize that there is financial benefit to decarbonizing their building stock, especially as the economy shifts rapidly in that direction. Unfortunately, human-driven decarbonization planning doesn't scale. In fact, it would take every single sustainability professional, working together, approximately 200 years to create reduction plans for all the world's buildings. Behind this bottleneck, there are trillions of dollars of market activity to be unlocked.
How does your technology expedite decarbonization?
Christopher: What truly sets Audette apart is our approach: we model the entire building stock and root out the highest ROI decarbonization pathways across entire regions -- not just building by building. We present data at both the macro scale, for economic planning, and to building owners themselves, who use their records to create custom carbon stepdown plans for their portfolios. Interactions at the building level retrain our AI models, improving the accuracy at the macro scale and creating a flywheel effect.
We help our customers unlock value across the entire commercial real estate ecosystem. Market makers -- such as cities, utilities, and financial institutions -- can claim their macro-scale models on which to build their decarbonization programs. Real estate owners can integrate our digital twins into their operations to understand exactly how to transform their portfolios to net zero. Because of this unprecedented level of insight into the market, technology providers can understand exactly what offerings their customers need, and deliver solutions directly to them. And finally, investors can find specific projects to finance that meet their sustainability benchmarks. Over the past 2 years, we’ve worked with Asset Managers representing over $900B in assets, serving them 1,300 retrofit project plans worth over $34M in operational savings.
Audette participated in our Venture Acceleration Program through our partners at Foresight Canada – a nation-wide cleantech accelerator. How did this help your company grow?
Christopher: Foresight offers a fantastic executive in residence program, which offered us valuable advice across many dimensions. In particular, we were able to learn from experienced CTOs at a stage when Audette was too small to have this expertise in-house.
What are some of the challenges you faced while commercializing your technology and how did you overcome them?
Christopher: Our first idea for Audette was as a way to 10x the energy auditing process by leveraging internal records within real estate operations. This proved to be too hard to scale as the data is messy and incomplete. After pivoting to an ‘outside-in’ approach to building modeling -- in part through our work with Foresight and Google Cloud accelerator -- we were able to find product-market fit at a scale we couldn’t have imagined previously.
What’s next for Audette? Are there any updates on the horizon?
Christopher: We are thrilled to announce that we recently closed an oversubscribed $12.8M seed round with some of the industry's leading energy sector investors. With this capital, we will be launching our technology across 150 cities in 24 months, identifying $1T in retrofit potential and over 800 Megatonnes of GHG emissions reductions. By working hand-in-hand with Cities, Asset Managers, and Financiers as part of our soon-to-be-launched '100 to Zero' campaign, we will catalyze the movement of capital and technology continent-wide, igniting the zero carbon movement for North American real estate.
Innovate BC’s Venture Acceleration Program leverages a province-wide network of partners and entrepreneurs to help SMEs prove their business models and grow into successful tech companies. Learn more.