A Decarb Deep Dive Into the Built Environment with Inovues

As we confront the pressing challenge of climate change, the need to improve energy efficiency in buildings becomes evermore critical. The built environment is a substantial source of energy consumption and, consequently, greenhouse gas emissions. In turn, retrofitting building facades, is an important process in energy efficiency that is often overlooked.

Inovues is a company redefining the standards of existing building retrofits has an approach that transcends traditional methods via scalable, cost-effective, and easy-to-install retrofit technologies. These innovations are crucial in transforming existing buildings to meet and even exceed modern energy standards, thereby contributing significantly to our net-zero targets.

As we explore the depths of this subject, we’ll uncover the macro issue of energy inefficiency in existing buildings – and the innovative solutions brought forward by Inovues. We will also navigate through the market dynamics, regulatory frameworks – as well as hearing the inspiring story of Anas Al Kassas, the visionary behind Inovues.

Join us to unravel how retrofitting building facades and windows is not just an engineering challenge but a vital step towards a sustainable future.

1. Addressing the Macro Issue: Energy Inefficiency of Existing Buildings

Image: Inovues
Inovues tackles a significant contributor to climate change: the energy inefficiency of existing buildings. Data from the U.S. Department of Energy highlight that to reach net-zero targets, existing buildings must become around 40% more energy-efficient. Given that a substantial portion of buildings—particularly those constructed before 2000—lack modern energy-saving features, this goal mandates deep retrofit measures, not just surface-level fixes.
A key aspect of such retrofits is improving the building envelope, which includes windows and facades. These elements have historically been overlooked due to high costs and lengthy payback periods. Approximately 40% of buildings still have single-pane windows, which offer minimal insulation compared to double-pane windows that feature an air or thermal gap for better insulation.

Despite advances like vacuum insulated glass and smart glass technologies, most of these innovations remain out of reach for existing buildings, reserved for new constructions or complete facade overhauls.
Furthermore, the current standards for green building certifications, like Passive House, require window performance akin to triple-pane windows, far exceeding the insulating value of traditional single-pane windows.
Inovues is addressing this issue by developing retrofit technologies that are scalable, cost-effective, and easy to install. Their solutions aim to significantly upgrade the insulating value of existing windows, transforming them to meet, and even exceed, modern energy standards. 

2.    Innovation Snapshot: Retrofitting Building Facades and Windows

Image: Inovues

Inovues stands out in the sustainable construction landscape with its groundbreaking approach to upgrading existing building facades and windows. Their mission is to enhance energy efficiency without the need for complete replacement, which is often cost-prohibitive, environmentally detrimental, and unsustainable in both the short and long term.

Inovues observed that many building materials, such as glass and metal, have a lifespan extending centuries, yet are frequently discarded due to the deterioration of more vulnerable components like sealants and gaskets. Their innovation focuses on upcycling and retrofitting these durable materials to modern performance standards.

The market previously lacked solutions that didn’t require glass replacement or major overhauls of facade systems. Inovues fills this gap with a technology that can be added to existing structures, compatible with various window systems and facades, and agnostic to glass technologies. This adaptability means it can incorporate current and future advancements in glass and insulation technology, making facades not just repaired but upgraded.


3.    Understanding the Market Dynamics and Incentives 

Image: C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
The energy efficiency movement is gaining momentum, bolstered by a mix of fines for non-compliance and incentives for upgrades.
In the USA, before the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), energy utilities offered cash incentives to building owners for making their buildings more energy efficient. For example, in New York City, Con Edison offers up to 30% of the project cost, incentivizing owners to adopt new technologies.
With IRA, federal incentives like the investment tax credit and 179D tax deductions further encourage energy retrofit technologies. These incentives lower the financial barriers, making energy efficiency upgrades more attractive to building owners.
We are in a market ripe for change, driven by regulatory pushes and economic incentives, amidst a landscape where energy efficiency is becoming increasingly financially viable and environmentally essential.

4.    Navigating the Regulatory Landscape 

Image: buildingsguide.com
The regulatory environment is providing a strong drive for the energy efficiency market. Building codes primarily guide new constructions, with existing buildings being subject to these codes mainly during major renovations. However, energy efficiency codes are updated periodically and vary by state, with some states enforcing more stringent standards than others.
In cities like New York, local laws like Local Law 97 pushes building owners to improve performance beyond basic codes by imposing fines for non-compliance. Similarly, Boston has Berto, and California is aiming for net-zero by 2030, starting with government buildings.

5.    Meet the Visionary


Anas Al Kassas’ journey to founding Inovues is deeply rooted in his passion for dynamic façade systems, which began during his architectural studies in Damascus, Syria.
His ambition and creativity in this field were recognized early on when his bachelor’s degree project won an international award, steering his career towards façade engineering. This pivotal moment led him to work in Dubai, where he gained extensive experience in designing, engineering, and testing advanced curtain and glass wall systems for large-scale projects.
Returning to the U.S. for his master’s degree in architecture, Anas continued to bridge the gap between architecture and façade engineering, working on significant projects and further honing his expertise in building envelopes. He saw these as not just components of a building, but as critical elements that could revolutionize energy efficiency standards across the industry.
The idea for Inovues sparked when Anas recognized the immense challenge and opportunity in retrofitting existing buildings to modern standards. He noticed that while much focus was placed on designing new, energy-efficient buildings, there was a clear neglect for the vast number of older buildings that were far from meeting current energy efficiency standards.
Determined to find a solution, Anas embarked on a journey to develop technologies that could upgrade existing building envelopes without the need for full replacements, which was both costly and unsustainable.
Anas’s entrepreneurial spirit was influenced by his father, a seasoned entrepreneur who instilled in him the mentality of risk-taking and innovation. This upbringing was crucial when Anas decided to leave his job and relocate to start Inovues, embracing the risks and uncertainties inherent in launching a startup. His story is a testament to the power of innovation and entrepreneurship in driving change in the construction industry, particularly in the realm of sustainable and energy-efficient building practices.

6.    Fundraising Insights 

Fundraising, particularly for hard tech solutions like those Inovues is pioneering, presents unique challenges compared to software companies. Early stages often lack the customer traction or revenue streams that might entice investors. For such ventures, a milestone-based approach to fundraising is essential – securing capital to reach specific development goals, then leveraging those achievements to obtain further funding. This creates a continuous cycle of raising funds as each milestone is met rather than securing a large sum upfront.
The journey to finding the right investor can be arduous, potentially spanning years. Inovues learned to navigate this by initially raising smaller amounts for prototype development and testing, then securing further investments for pilot projects. This gradual progression has now led them to seek Series A funding aimed at full commercialization and team expansion.
In terms of investment options, angel investors and angel groups have been particularly beneficial during Inovues’ early phase. These individuals or groups, if they align with the vision and believe in the project, can offer swift and substantial support, propelling the company through crucial early milestones. Such strategic partnerships have been invaluable for Inovues, providing both the financial resources and the mentorship necessary to advance through the complex landscape of bringing a hard tech solution to market.

Listen to the full podcast here.

About the “Decarb Deep Dive” Series

At Startup Basecamp, we’re diving deep into the intersection where technology meets climate action, through our engaging series of blog posts inspired by conversations from our “Tech 4 Climate Podcast.”

Through the lens of our podcast, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to converse with a diverse array of climate tech founders, seasoned investors, and industry experts hailing from Silicon Valley and beyond. Their stories, journeys, and insights into the climate tech industry have been nothing short of inspiring.

We’re thrilled to share this wealth of knowledge with you through our new blog series which meticulously dissects each conversation into six pivotal aspects:

  1. Addressing the Macro Issue: We begin by assessing the larger problem at hand, analyzing how specific sectors contribute to climate change and the corresponding data.
  2. Innovation Snapshot: Then we navigate through the existing landscape of solutions – spotlighting the leading innovations shaping the industry.
  3. Market Dynamics & Incentives: A closer look at the market reveals the organizational structures and incentives steering its course.
  4. Navigating Regulatory Landscape: We demystify the intricate web of regulations, providing you with insights into how legislative tailwinds impact the sector.
  5. Meet the Visionaries: A personal rendezvous with the brilliant minds behind the initiatives, delving into their stories.
  6. Fundraising Insights: We unravel the fundraising journey, presenting insights and invaluable tips from successful players.

This series promises to be a rich in insights, stories, and actionable knowledge, serving as a comprehensive guide for those looking to further immerse themselves in the climate tech ecosystem.

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