1. What led you to start Vizcab and what is the company’s mission?
After 10 years as CTO of an engineering office, I was invited to lead a research program at EPFL and the smart living lab. I saw a unique opportunity to develop the decision-making tools that I had dreamed of as an engineer, and that is what happened; I patented a new methodology that was later transferred through a license agreement from EPFL to Vizcab. Based on this asset, Vizcab is now developing SaaS products to support all actors of the construction industry in their energy and carbon transition.
2. What sets Vizcab aside from current carbon footprint assessment tools?
Current tools are used for carbon footprint assessments by experts only and late into the building design process. Vizcab, thanks to cutting edge technologies in data science and data visualization, is aimed at supporting any stakeholder, at any time into the project development. A real estate developer, for instance, can use Vizcab to understand how a carbon budget will impact a building project in terms of architecture, technique, and costs.
3. How can the Real Estate sector engage with Climate Tech to bring the built and digital environments together?
Well, I used to say that we have known for decades how to send a rocket to the moon, so in fact, the technology is not the limit today to develop low-carbon and energy buildings. Also, (almost) everyone nowadays acknowledges the contribution of buildings to climate change and wants to be part of the solution. However, sustainable buildings still represent a marginal share of the construction industry. It is all about using good decision-making tools at the right time, by the right person, to make new regulations and constructing company commitments a reality.
4. How essential is data in helping the Real Estate Industry reach its decarbonization goals?
Climate change is a new reality and leads to major shifts in construction practices. In a few years, every building will have a carbon budget, i.e. an upper limit of carbon emissions. Moreover, this carbon budget will decrease over the years to come until we reach carbon neutrality in 2050. In other words, without data, you can’t understand and anticipate the impact of this carbon budget on your company, whoever you are. And when you will find a solution, it will quickly become obsolete due to this continuous improvement towards neutrality. So how can we cope with these issues without collecting, processing, and learning from data?
5. To what extent is Europe leading the way for carbon neutrality?
In Europe, every new building will have to reach a net Zero Energy (nZEB) performance starting from 2020. This is already very ambitious, but even an nZEB building has carbon emissions due to the production and end-of-life of the building materials. Hence, countries are about to set carbon budgets as mandatory objectives for their buildings, following levels: the new EU framework for sustainable buildings. This is why France will, for the first time, make carbon footprint assessment mandatory in its future RE2020 regulation, opening the path to all other EU countries towards the same practice.