A beacon of innovation and impact, Estonian tech company R8 Technologies stands at the forefront of real estate solutions amid volatile energy prices and the soaring demand for sustainability. Since its founding in 2017, the company has pioneered AI-driven property management across Europe, stewarding over 3 million square metres of real estate, managing 3% of Estonia’s energy consumption, and delivering over €7 million in savings for property owners in 2022 alone.
At the heart of the company’s mission lies a pressing global concern: the real estate sector’s hefty 40% contribution to worldwide CO2 emissions. “The current methods of buildings’ operations require advancement in digitalisation and automation,” notes Siim Täkker, R8 Technologies’ CEO. “Our data-driven AI solutions not only bolster operational efficiency but deliver considerable cost reductions and cut CO2 emissions by about 20%.”
Introducing R8 Jenny: the human-centric AI for sustainable real estate
The R8 Digital Operator, “Jenny,” is the company’s flagship AI solution, which breathes new life into commercial buildings as sustainable entities. This data-driven AI system is a revolution in human-centric artificial intelligence, meticulously engineered to operate buildings with unprecedented efficiency. It’s a sophisticated digital assistant which integrates into the operational heart of each building, the building management system (BMS), without the need for new infrastructure.
“Our vision of AI is to be more than smart— our solution is intuitive and capable of ensuring comfort and efficiency with little to no human intervention. R8 Jenny understands the heartbeat of a building and its uniqueness, caring for it,” Siim says, highlighting how the solution has evolved to meet the nuanced demands of real estate. This human-centric approach to AI development has been vital in forging tools facility managers can trust and rely on. And the result speaks for itself!
Significant savings and environmental milestones at Mainor Ülemiste
Mainor Ülemiste’s CEO, Ursel Velve, reports transformative savings and environmental advancements attributed to R8 Technologies’ solution implementation. “In 2023, the deployment of R8’s Digital Operator enabled us to realise significant savings of nearly EUR 122,000 in reduced heating and electricity expenses for the Öpik buildings. Additionally, we witnessed a substantial environmental benefit, cutting down our carbon emissions by 269 metric tons, equivalent to conserving around 1300 trees,” Ursel states.
“Their system has not only streamlined our operational costs but also enabled us to make more environmentally friendly choices,” she highlights. The capabilities of R8 Jenny have been especially noteworthy, with around 113,000 system adjustments within the last year—a feat beyond human capacity, according to Ursel. Recognising the strategic advantage of the data gathered through R8 Technologies’ system, she says, “The insights allow us to make informed decisions, steering us toward constructing more sustainable and energy-efficient buildings.”
Looking ahead, Ursel confirms the ongoing partnership with R8 Technologies is set to deepen, particularly within the innovative Ülemiste City Test City. “Within the framework of the Test City, R8 Technologies actively engages in collecting and leveraging data to develop their new models,” she reveals. This initiative marks the campus as a testing ground for R8’s new developments, showcasing a progressive step towards sustainable real estate and the bankability of greentech.
The journey to innovation
Looking back, the road to this point has been exciting yet far from straightforward. Siim recalls the stormy early days when the team sought to transform extensive research into a viable product. Without existing models on the market, the startup first embarked on its journey with no blueprint, and this came bearing its fair share of challenges.
Their relentless efforts resulted in the first product launch in 2017, marking a significant milestone. But, they soon realised that the complexities of real-world applications were greater than anticipated. “Our initial offerings, while groundbreaking, didn’t fully meet the nuanced needs of the market,” Siim admits. The team found themselves back at the drawing board, reimagining their solutions. Ultimately, they did refine their offerings, finding the sweet spot between operational efficiency and user-centric design.
The team today? A dynamic collective of over 50 individuals, including over 10 with Ph.D. qualifications, bringing extensive knowledge from various domains, like facility management, real estate, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), and information technology. Merging practical know-how with scientific insight, they have successfully released numerous product functionalities that boost customer satisfaction, enhance operational efficiency, and address evolving customer needs.
The green shift
Peering into the future, Siim anticipates a substantial shift in the energy sector towards proactive and flexible management of green energy, where energy transcends mere production and extends to active management on the consumer’s side. This is where R8 Technologies emerges as a catalyst, bridging the gap between energy consumption and sustainable practices. As renewable sources take centre stage, Siim emphasises the increasing significance of consumers and companies like R8 in effectively managing and stabilising energy usage.
Delving deeper, he highlights the imminent overhaul of the regulatory landscape in Europe. “A shift is underway towards unified sustainable practices and regulations,” he notes. As these new regulations materialise, he envisions fragmented energy markets being consolidated into an integrated entity guided by a shared understanding and streamlined practices.
Within this evolving framework, Siim Täkker is confident in R8 Technologies’ solutions to expand even further and help more markets manage and optimise energy usage adeptly. “Our technology is tailored for an energy and carbon-efficient future, ensuring smarter, more sustainable real estate practices,” he asserts. With numerous projects in the pipeline, including expansion into Asia, the company intends to not only enhance today’s buildings but also shape a future where real estate development is synonymous with carbon neutrality.