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5Q PropTech Interview – Helideo Costa Elias Complex Project Manager at Banque des Territoires

May 20, 2021

1. Helideo, you have a hugely dynamic profile and background. Could you describe who you are and what has brought you to where you are today?

Helideo has kindly provided A/O with a timeline of his impressive achievements and career highlights*

In 1983, I created ID – Informatique et Development, a computer services company in the field of PC management, this was subsequently resold in 1993.  From 1993 to 1999, I was appointed as Director of Development and Modernisation at SANEF and was in charge of technological development (“intelligent road”) and related services (catering, service stations). I designed and deployed a Hertzian telecommunications network (13 GHz and 23 GHz band) unifying all the telecommunication services, and a radio (107.7 MHz), in collaboration with Radio France. I also invented and implemented long-distance fibre optic networks with the concept of “micro-trenches”. I resigned in 1999 because SANEF was focused on Y2K and I didn’t have enough projects to manage.

From 1999 to 2002, I was focused on the creation of LNA, a start-up dedicated to the project of laying and operating a submarine cable between Nice and Solenzara (Corsica), without a repeater, using Nortel’s ultra-long-haul lasers. On 11/09/2002, the shareholders (Principality of Monaco, Bridgepoint Capital, Vivendi International) decided to stop financing the project.

From 2002 to 2008, I returned to SANEF as Director of Energy and Telecommunications, in charge of SANEF’s needs and the development of the telecom business with third parties. In 2008 the new shareholder (due to the financial crisis) dismissed the management committee.

From 2009 to present, I have worked within the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignation Investment Department and have occupied various roles: Director of investments in telecom infrastructures (2009-2012), Director of the ROSES project with ARS Ile de France for the creation of a private telecommunication network between health establishments in Ile de France (2013-2015), and Director of the digital building services and digital health poles (2016-2021).

2. Helideo, the real estate industry is undergoing profound changes brought about by various trends related to new technologies, which ones do you think will revolutionise real estate?

I think that all infrastructures evolve to become “intelligent”, i.e. todescribe their state, make decisions, and adapt their state to the situation. This is a necessary condition to reduce operating costs while increasing the use-value of the infrastructure.

In order to implement “intelligence”, various technologies must be mastered: capturing information, transmitting it, processing it, and disseminating it in the form of information or in the form of action (via automata).

It is also necessary to be able to describe and name the components of the infrastructure, for example, in the field of accounting, the chart of accounts, or in the field of building, the BIM.

But we can go very far (too far) in the implementation of new technologies. It seems to me that there are three essential conditions for technological success:

  1. Don’t be right too early. The proposed technology must be easily and quickly used by the market, and the developments must be adapted to its capacity for transformation.
  2. The proposed technology must prove its economic interest, or, failing that, propose a disruptive offer (for example IBM PC, MacIntoch, Facebook, etc.)
  3. Among the 3 following uncertainties, the technology must master at least 2: cost, technological complexity, timeframe.

3.  France, along with many other states, is a big real estate owner. Helideo, what are their challenges faced in renewing the building and real estate sector and how could new technologies help?

The public sector in France owns 40% of the built-up area (1 billion m² out of 2.5 Bm²), yet it is unaware of this ownership.

It is also unaware of the operating costs and manages them by limiting credits, which leads to a degradation of the park and the additional costs of major renovations (cf Grande Galerie de l’Evolution).

The first thing to do is therefore to help the states to become aware of the value of their assets in order to reduce operating costs. For example, when France Telecom was transformed into Orange, real estate was estimated at €1 billion, but after digitisation and rationalisation, it was sold for €3 billion. The retained Real Estate costs less to maintain and better meets the needs of the company.

But the states have not mastered the job of the asset manager, and asset managers have not yet sufficiently mastered digital building technologies, particularly for operations. It is surprising that in Europe there is only one tool really adapted to the operation of a building stock: Abyla (published by LABEO), and this tool is old and technologically obsolete.

There is therefore no awareness of the impact of digital technologies on the operating costs of buildings.

I believe that today we have reached the point where the market is ready, where the proof of economic efficiency can be provided, and where the risks can be controlled, to propose to the states that they set up “digital banks for public buildings” which manage the digital twins of their building stock.

4. Helideo, what is the role of technological innovations in the real estate industry with regards to climate issues?

Buildings are an important component of global warming: 39% of global emissions –. 28% for direct emissions from the energy used to heat, cool and light buildings, the remaining 11% for the “grey carbon” associated with materials and construction processes. Let’s remember that one square metre of building constructed in France represents approximately 1.5 tonnes of CO2 emitted, i.e. 90 MtCO2 for the 60 million square metres produced per year. (source: UNEP).

Whether for construction or operation, it is therefore very important to improve the environmental performance of buildings in order to protect the climate. However, it is also necessary to respect the economics of building construction, which has already been severely impacted by the rise in land prices. It is on this point that technological innovations and in particular digital technologies must prove their effectiveness.

In order to move in the right direction, a sector strategy is needed. The strategy should start by characterising the energy and environmental performance (EEP) of the basic components of the building. In France, this involves environmental and health data sheets (EDS), which are the raw material for EPE calculations. This is why, along with A/O PropTech, we have invested in the company Vizcab,  a pioneer in this field.

5. In your opinion Helideo, should there be a European PropTech strategy?

The development of the PropTech market probably requires an agreement (between the different players in the building sector) that outlines the language to be used to describe a building according to the different stages of its life cycle.  

Will this language emerge through consensus between the actors in the form of a European standardisation, e.g. ISO/DIS 23386.

This process is (very) long and costly for the companies involved (funding of experts) and agreements are difficult to reach.

Will this language be imposed by a dominant market player, for example, AutoDesk or a GAFAM?

What seems most likely to me is that the language and tools of PropTech will be imposed by those who can generate financial, environmental or usage value, for example by holding data:

  1. Digital twins of buildings (Abyla)
  2. The production of Environmental Product Description of construction material (Vizcab)
  3. Geolocated prices of materials/ equipment (AOS)

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