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Facade of a building - The future of the industry is Proptech!

by Roman Balzan

Chief Marketing Officer at Alpian

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Real Estate is usually linked to a large, slow-moving and traditional industry, oftentimes reluctant to adopt new innovations.

Many real estate firms have long made decisions based on a combination of intuition and traditional, retrospective data.

In their report “Environmental Sustainability Principles for the Real Estate Industry“, The World Economic Forum states that the real estate sector consumes over 40% of global energy annually, that buildings generate 20% of global greenhouse gas emission, and use roughly 40% of raw materials. The industry is also responsible for other environmental impacts, such as waste production, pollution, water usage and consumption of other natural resources.

It states that there are opportunities to embrace new technology and innovation to meet environmental goals and enhance business performance. Across every sector, technology has a key role to play in sustainability and we are increasingly seeing digital initiatives encouraging people to move away from physical and wasteful alternatives.

What is PropTech?

PropTech is an innovative approach to real estate in which technology optimizes the way people research, rent, buy, sell, and manage a property. The cross-industry technology benefits all parties involved – developers, investors, and property management companies – making it a recent buzzword in commercial real estate. PropTech real estate startups are all those that are attempting to make the real estate industry better, more efficient, and easier to navigate for all parties involved. The rise of this industry considers the need for a technological and mental change required of the real estate sector to address the inconveniences of its consumers.

The World Economic Forum states that the real estate sector consumes over 40% of global energy annually, that buildings generate 20% of global greenhouse gas emission, and use roughly 40% of raw materials.

Different types of PropTech

Construction Technology

ConTech is set to pick up steam in 2021 with a strong focus on tech which enables sustainable construction methods. Digital twins, drones, virtual and augmented reality, and robotics are amongst the latest technological innovations that have entered the construction space in the past decade.

Smart Buildings and IoT

The scope of Smart Building is very broad, covering various objects from windows or elevators to vehicle charging. Efficiency has become a synonym for sustainability, hence the terms are used almost interchangeably.

“The management of shared resources and spaces will be the key to the city of tomorrow. A city that will have to be resilient and sustainable”, says Christophe Haldi, CEO and founder of Swiss PropTech startup eeproperty.

“Today, 55% of the world’s population lives in cities. According to the UN, this figure is expected to rise to nearly 70% by 2050. Add to that the issue of climate change and energy transition, and it’s clear that enabling controlled, transparent and easy access to these resources while simplifying their management and use must be our contribution to a prosperous future and community life.”

Flexible offices

Aspects of industry innovation, such as flexible offices, also help in the sustainability race. According to Knotel, Co-Founder Edward Shenderovich, “flex is the new green”.

He explains that commercial real estate can become greener through flexible workspaces. Generally, when businesses sign traditional long-term leases, they often get too much space. As a result, they are stuck with unused space – a major drain on resources – which still needs to be maintained with lighting, heating, cooling and other energy-consuming features.

Today, 55% of the world’s population lives in cities. According to the UN, this figure is expected to rise to nearly 70% by 2050.

PropTech in Switzerland

According to PropTech Switzerland Association, Switzerland has about 130 verified PropTech companies registered in 2021. About 47% of the audited PropTech companies are based in the canton of Zurich.

Although based in Pully in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, eeproperty is no exception when it comes to meeting the same challenges as its German-speaking counterparts.

Christophe Haldi adds, “In the beginning, the hardest part was simply raising awareness and acceptance of our expertise by the real estate industry. We have come a long way since then and our clients are aware of the added value we bring to their assets.

Some, faced with a lack of knowledge on the subject or confused by the number of players, are still wondering in what proportions it is wise to invest in such products, as for example with our solution for charging electric vehicles (EV) in rental buildings. However, the automotive market is also in transition, and we have seen an annual increase of more than 300% in the purchase of EVs by tenants in the buildings we equip. Not only do the buildings gain in management efficiency but also in attractiveness and return. We are confident about the future. The sector is booming (average revenue growth of 68% according to Agefi).”

Note: This article is part of a series offering the audience sustainable alternatives for improving our environment, societies and the larger world.

Since its inception, sustainability lies at the core of Alpian’s vision for a better world, and we have taken steps to become a part of the solution. As an organization, we have committed to operating in a sustainable manner by adhering to the highest global standards. For instance, we have woven tangible and meaningful forms of carbon capture and sequestration into the Alpian experience. As a means to contribute positively to the environment.

Stay tuned for more updates on this front.


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About the author

Roman holds a Master’s degree in economics from the University of St. Gallen HSG. He is an experienced brand- & marketing strategist and defines himself as a “crazy-creative-thinker”. He started his career at the ‘IFJ Institute for Young Entrepreneurs / Venturelab.ch‘ as Senior Project Manager before co-founding Suxedoo.ch. He later joined Google as Programs Lead for the Employer Brand Marketing in EMEA. In 2018 he was recruited by Lime, the US-based scooter giant, supporting the launch of the company’s first European market, Switzerland, after which he led Lime’s EMEA Marketing & Brand efforts before joining Alpian.

Roman loves hiking so much that in 2009 he walked 2300km on the Camino de Santiago with his dog Nelson. He walked all the way from St. Gallen to Santiago de Compostela in Western Spain.

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