5 Key Trends in AEC Green Tech Fueled by Europe’s Climate Leadership

In 2015 and 2016, we reported on the signing by 195 countries of the Paris Agreement, a legally binding treaty that would commit those countries to taking affirmative steps to cut gas emissions in order to combat global warming. Although this Agreement was a hailed as a major landmark in climate policy around the world, the news did not seem to garner much interest in the US built world sector at the time, as evidenced by the fact that our articles covering the agreement were among the least read at the time.

Then, in 2017, the United States pulled out of the Paris agreement, not to rejoin until 2021. While the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 did mark the largest commitment to green energy and combatting climate change in American history, the European Union’s unwavering commitment to the Paris Agreement in 2015, followed by the 2019 presentation of the European Green Deal  – and combined with a host of added commitments by individual European countries around energy transition, carbon reduction, transportation reform, waste reduction, biodiversity and more – have afforded Europe’s green energy and climate tech ecosystem a significant head start over America’s.

As Europe’s real estate, construction, and infrastructure industry has felt significantly more pressure, consistently applied over nearly the past decade, we see the emergence of a strong, interdependent community of large and established built world companies investing in and partnering with a burgeoning startup community in hopes that innovation will help the region achieve its goals.

Below is a list of startups mapped to the large industrials they are working with across Europe in different areas of the climate and green energy tech ecosystem:

Trend 1: Ongoing Push for Cleaner Electricity Generating Infrastructure

Across Europe, there has been an urgent push for transitioning to cleaner ways to generate energy. While Norway has adopted policies encouraging the development of hydro-electric power generations and carbon capture, France has launched initiatives in green hydrogen. Meantime, Sweden and other European countries have pushed policy around carbon taxation to encourage energy transition. The result is the pursuit of solutions refining how wind and solar can be leveraged to produce electricity and also pushing deeper into the development of other means of energy generation.

  • SunStyle – Building-Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) roof. Installed with a single set of building materials, the structural roof and energy generating modules are one | Nova Saint Gobain
  • WaveX (France) – Working under the sand to generate energy from waves and also to restore sand to beaches | Leonard by Vinci
  • Geopura (Great Britain) – Hydrogen-based power solutions for buildings and job sites | Siemens Energy
  • Oktogrid – Non-invasive access to transformer and grid performance data in realtime, making it possible to monitor, forecast, and react to congestions and reduce cost of asset management | ABB
  • Sweetch Energy – Harnesses osmotic technology to create energy from water | EDF

Trend 2: Accelerating the Transition to Electric Vehicles

As countries like Norway offer tax breaks and toll exemptions to encourage the transition to electric vehicles, we see a host of solutions in this arena.

  • DriveCo (Germany) – One of France’s largest EV charging points operators | APG
  • Trucksters (Spain) – Developing an electric fleet of long haul truckers | Volvo Group Venture Capital 
  • AMPECO (Bulgaria) – White label EV charging management software | BMW iVentures
  • Virta (Finland) – International end-to-end EV charging solutions platform | E.On
  • Electra (France) – European fast-charging stations network | SNCF

Trend 3: Decarbonizing Buildings through Better Design Technology, Innovative Materials, and Smarter Operations

  • Ostrea (France) – Transforms sea shell waste into a low carbon, recycled building material | Leonard by Vinci
  • Preoptima (Great Britain) – Integrates real time, whole life carbon assessments into buildings in order to enable lowering the whole life carbon of buildings during the design phase of a project | Nemetschek
  • Carnonaide (Finland) – Technology to utilize and store carbon dioxide in the precast concrete industry | Lakan Batani
  • Ostrom (Germany) – Helps people get everything they need for a smart, energy efficient home | SE Ventures

Trend 4: Reducing Waste and Promoting Reuse through Technology Aimed at a Circular Economy

  • Tri’n’Collect (France) – Solution for sorting and collecting construction waste on site for better recycling and waste recovery | Nova Saint Gobain
  • ECODROP (France) – Eco-responsible garbage pickup | Nova Saint Gobain
  • JUUNOO (Belgium) – A modular system allows partition walls to be easily disassembled, reconfigured, and reused | Nova Saint Gobain
  • AETERNUM (Switzerland) – Modularized, reusable building components | Leonard by Vinci
  • Zenrobotics (Finland) – Robotics to allow better sorting of waste; acquired by Terex | Ferrovial
  • Material Mapper (Norway) – Marketplace for finding reusable materials | Hexagon AG

Trend 5: Promoting Decarbonization over the Life Cycle of Buildings and Infrastructure with Better Tracking and Reporting 

  • NatureMetrics (United Kingdom) – NatureMetric’s nature performance monitoring service uses environmental DNA technology to generate comprehensive data, rapidly and cost-effectively| Leonard by Vinci
  • AltaRoad (France) – Real time tracking of flows and loads | Leonard by Vinci
  • Beeldie – Energy auditing software for facilities managers | MAIF
  • INEX Circular (France) – Helps companies find resources, trace origins, and measure impact | Leonard by Vinci
  • CAALA (Germany) – Energy efficiency for buildings | Nova Saint Gobain
  • Imerso AS (Norway) – Collaborative design | Nemetschek Group
  • Plan A (Germany) – Provides a platform for companies to measure, monitor, and reduce their carbon footprint | BNP Parisbas’ Opera Tech Ventures and Deutsche Bank

As American companies and others around the world follow Europe’s lead, the now more mature European ecosystem may provide insights about how winning solutions will evolve elsewhere.