founders of zerotude‘Creating better buildings for better lives’ drives the team behind Zerotude. Spurred by the Sustainable Development Goals, they have developed software that helps real estate companies identify and plan renovation measures. The goal is to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

Buildings consume 40% of energy in the EU and emit 36% of all greenhouse gases. In the struggle to reduce the world’s emissions, making buildings more efficient can help us come a long way towards our ambitious climate neutrality targets. Zerotude’s solution will guide real estate owners to invest where it has the biggest, positive climate impact.

At one point, Maximilian Deiters, former management consultant, and co-founder of the start-up Zerotude, felt a strong urge to dedicate his career to preserving nature in one way or the other. Having previously worked on asset managers’ decarbonization strategies he saw a need for a tool that can help prioritize renovation measures across large portfolios.

He is concerned about the fact that we, as a collective, do not have a lot of time to reach the Paris Agreement targets*.

–The EU is committed to reducing its net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 % by 2030, compared to 1990, says Max. There are millions of properties in the EU that account for 36% of greenhouse gases.

Thus, buildings need to lower emissions and become more sustainable. To figure out what measures to take to make a building less energy-consuming, one traditionally needs to make a manual, technical inspection of the building.

–There is a need for a faster way of analyzing buildings to help developers prioritize and make decisions for renovation measures, says Max.

A Purposeful Encounter

Max and Ricardo Bernardowere introduced to one another in Lund. They realized they ought to combine their respective skills and interests: science and business perspectives on decarbonizing buildings.

Ricardo has developed a model that identifies and analyzes energy-saving measures of large property portfolios.

–The model applies machine learning and uses publicly available data to create so-called digital twins of buildings. The models can simulate different renovations and their effect on energy consumption, Max explains.

Customers get an overview of which buildings perform worst and have the highest savings potential.

–Staff or technical consultants can validate and complete the model themselves, says Max. Through the model, real estate companies see which renovation measures are relevant to undertake, what their investment cost is, as well as the climate impact – per building, district, or portfolio of buildings.

The overview of their portfolio gives customers indications about the best possible outcome, in terms of SEK, kWh, and GHG (green house gases).

A Balancing Act Between kWh, SEK, and CO2

60-70% of buildings need to be upgraded to reduce energy consumption. At the same time, renovations cost; in terms of money and climate effects as a result of the construction process.

Hence, to find the right balance between energy spent (kWh), money (SEK), and emissions (CO2) for existing buildings is becoming ever more important.

–This year, the EU will put some historic legislation in place for existing buildings. #EPBD, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, aims to improve the energy performance of buildings within the EU member states, says Max. For the first time in history, the EU will set requirements for the energy efficiency of existing buildings.

Also, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, sets new standards for large companies’ sustainability reporting.

–If you decide to renovate and the renovation material turns out to use more energy during the life cycle than it saves, then that is important to factor in your decision-making, says Max.

flower for well being Well-Being Also a Driver

The team is also concerned about people’s well-being. Humans spend most of their time indoors.

Studies have indicated that, on average, people in developed countries spend as much as 90% of their time indoors. This includes time spent at home, work, school, or other places:

–I still think about how my grandparents’ hands were always cold in the winter. Few homes are heated in Portugal, says Ricardo. There is a strong link between cold weather and the number of deaths. The fact that we spend most of our lifetime indoors severely impacts our health. Renovating buildings is not just a way to reduce climate impact, but to improve well-being.

– As our health is influenced to such a large extent by the buildings we are in, we should make sure that they are in good condition, Max says. Energy renovations make buildings not only environmentally sustainable but also better through lower energy costs and increased comfort.

–At Zerotude our mission is to create ‘better buildings for better lives’, says Max. By that, we mean climate impact and well-being.

What happens now?

In 2023, Zerotude focused on developing the product with pilot customers – some of the largest owners of residential buildings in Sweden.

In 2024, the focus will be to continue developing the product with those companies and to successfully scale up the solution to an entire building portfolio:

–Last year, it was important for us to work with customers from day one to learn about their challenges and how our technology can help to solve them. We have gotten a lot of positive feedback from the market encouraging us to scale up. As part of that journey, we will also be looking to fundraise towards the end of the first quarter this year, says Max.

The Zerotude team consists of three people: Ricardo (building engineer), Max (business development), and Ji (back-end developer and building engineer). Together, they run Zerotude which helps real estate companies transition faster to sustainable property portfolios.

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