This Singaporean Created the WeChat of Sustainable Properties

by Katherine Arteche
09 Mar 2022

Merging the use of artificial intelligence and sustainability practices, Kenny Chai of Beblu believes he’s one step closer to a new future with this mobile app.

There’s nowhere else to run — virtual marketplaces are now commonplace in our social media applications. And while it has been jarring for some of us to get used to the (extremely) convenient shopping experience from one tab to the next, we’ve all accepted that multi-purpose platforms are here to stay.

It is exactly the very nature of the digital landscape that has prompted former marketer Kenny Chai to wonder, why can’t we have one like it for the property market? Thus, he founded Beblu, the region’s first property development solution that leverages AI sensors to develop and manage green properties. While Singapore has been quick to embrace sustainability methods across sectors, Chai says that his aim in building a sustainability strategy for Singapore’s property market is a long-term goal.

“In Singapore, the property sector has made significant progress over the years in tackling sustainability issues. The internationally recognized BCA Green Mark Certification Scheme, introduced in 2005, has helped raise standards in buildings’ energy performance and placed greater emphasis on sustainability outcomes. In 2020, nearly half of the buildings in Singapore have been greened and the number is set to increase to 80% by 2030. Despite this progress, the current energy-efficient technologies are still unable to meet the growing energy demand. Therefore, there is a need for further innovation in the energy-saving technology field as it will provide property owners more affordable and renewable energy alternatives.”

According to the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), an organization headquartered in the UK, buildings account for over 39 per cent of global energy-related carbon emissions, of which 28 per cent is derived from operational carbon (carbon that is emitted during the operational phase of a building that’s in-use). Acting on this statistic, Chai shares about AI-led technologies in Beblu and how he plans on making his mark in building a sustainable environment for Singapore.

The use of Beblu claims to save 30 per cent of monthly energy consumption for green building owners. Are there required calls to action that are implemented thereafter to garner such results?
We monitor and measure energy consumption of the building by implementing the Energy Efficiency Index (EEI). Our proprietary AI sensors installed in the building provide real-time energy consumption data to the Building Management System and Beblu mobile application. The energy consumption monitoring feature in the mobile application allows tenants to track their monthly energy consumption and recommends ways to reduce consumption. It also encourages tenants to make a conscientious effort to reduce their monthly utility bills. Upon analyzing the monthly data from the Building Management System, the facilities management team will plan the relevant email campaigns to recommend tips to conserve energy.

According to the Technology Roadmap by BCA in developing cost-effective Super Low Energy (SLE) buildings, user behavior is critical in reducing up to 25% of the total building energy consumption. To further motivate behavioral change for an energy-efficient lifestyle, a reward system feature termed “BeRewarded” is incorporated in the Beblu mobile application. This incentive method rewards tenant units with the lowest energy consumption monthly with credit points that can be exchanged for attractive services such as meeting room, lounge bookings, and food discounts.

Kenny Chai, CEO and Founder, Beblu

It’s safe to say that there is a growing number of properties that are looking to, or already have an in-house sustainability-driven building management system in place. How does Beblu compare on the solutions front?
Many of the existing solutions provide only facility management features for property owners to improve their building operations, whereas the Beblu Suite is the first in the commercial market that caters to both property owners and tenants. We conceptualized an all-encompassing suite of smart solutions that helps property owners and tenants minimize environmental footprints and maximize revenues in a cost-effective way.

How does your experience as a marketing consultant contribute to your new duties?
As a CEO of a lifestyle and technology company, identifying market gaps and trends, staying up to date with global trends and materializing business concepts are key factors in establishing the company as a leader in the global market. My knowledge in product differentiation and experience in meeting people from all around the world during my time as a marketing consultant also helped me gain valuable insights on various trending issues like sustainability, which has inspired me to utilize my knowledge of technology as a force for good.

Please share where your focus on sustainability is derived from. Other than “the greater good”, why do you want to build a sustainable environment?
Sustainability will be the main challenging issue in the 21st century and everyone will have to do their part to curb climate change. Traveling around the world during my time as a marketer has opened my eyes to this phenomenon and heightened my ‘green sensitivity’.

The concept of hybrid working, although unconventional before the pandemic, has proven to be more affordable, convenient, and sustainable. However, these coworking spaces may not necessarily offer a holistic experience to allow employees and tenants to live, work, play and connect. Therefore, there is a pressing need to tap onto under-explored platforms that would allow individuals to make more sustainable choices with today’s technology.

I believe I have always had a keen eye for detail and business, and trusting that instinct has led to the founding of Beblu, leveraging AI to build a sustainable environment. I do envision a city of smart and sustainable workspaces in the future, one that uses technology to enhance the health, well-being, and productivity of individuals. Our vision as a team ultimately, is to create a place for like-minded people to inspire each other with the spirit of innovation, creativity, and eco-sensitivity.

What’s the end goal for Beblu? How do you see sustainable developments evolving in the future?
The future of sustainable developments will be based on four main pillars: Green, Wellness, Smart, and Caring. Sustainable developments in the future will take into consideration factors such as workplace diversity, tenants' comfort and well-being, and sustainable technology/design. This means that more advanced and innovative technologies will be developed and integrated into buildings to further reduce carbon emissions and energy efficiency, while increasing workplace productivity and tenant wellness.

With a greener future in mind, we envision buildings beyond bricks and mortars – as living organisms that connect innovators through technology. Our goal is to create a network of smart buildings that connects and cultivates a community of like-minded people globally whilst advancing the sustainability agenda.

For more information on Beblu, click here