An Introduction to RegenBuild


As we approach several climate tipping points, the built environment contributes to about 40% of all GHG emissions. It is critical to decarbonise the industry and move towards a low-carbon economy to reduce the devastating effects of climate change, avoid ecological collapse and ensure a more sustainable future. We must act now to reach our climate goals because the longer we wait, the more challenging and expensive it becomes to decarbonise. This means improving energy efficiency, water efficiency, material circularity, renewable energy use, biodiversity protection, and many more. While we can do all the necessary things, the underlying tools, structures and systems often fail to create the incentives for us to take action. Creating a system that links incentives to desired actions is essential to ensure progress towards reaching sustainability goals. The built environment necessitates a system that promotes sustainability and facilitates regeneration.

Embodied Carbon & Operational Carbon

Embodied carbon and operational carbon are two broad categories of carbon emissions in the built environment. Embodied carbon is the carbon emissions released from the production, use and disposal of a product, material or service and is often referred to as ‘upstream’ emissions. Operational carbon, on the other hand, is the carbon emissions that are generated through day-to-day operations, such as energy use and transport. These two types of carbon directly influence the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

Embodied carbon is often overlooked, as it’s difficult to quantify and can be hard to manage. However, it’s important to consider as it accounts for a large proportion of a building’s life-cycle carbon emissions. Operational carbon is easier to identify, as it’s direct and measurable, and therefore can be managed more effectively. To reduce carbon emissions, organisations should focus on both embodied and operational carbon, and develop strategies to reduce their emissions in both areas.

Embodied Carbon becomes increasingly important as the energy grid decarbonises gradually over the years.
Embodied Carbon becomes increasingly important as the energy grid decarbonises gradually over the years.

The image highlights the importance of addressing embodied carbon during the design phase, especially as the electricity grid decarbonises over the years with an increasing mix of renewable energy. It is crucial to act on embodied carbon now and create demand for low-carbon products to ensure sustainable design practices for the future. In emerging markets, it is particularly important to empower decision-makers with product data to help them make informed decisions about product and material selection. Incentive structures that enable more manufacturers to adopt green practices and disclose product data are critical to how the industry progresses. Several products exist in the market for measuring embodied carbon and other product-related data like Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). Some of the prominent tools include Tally, OneClick LCA, EC3, SimaPro, etc.

Operational carbon on the other hand also plays a critical role in decarbonising the built environment. Many companies have emerged with products in the last 10-15 years to address the operational carbon part of the emissions. EnergyPlus and OpenStudio have served as a foundation for many applications being developed to conduct simulations for energy analysis. Ladybug tools have democratised environmental simulations and things are looking exciting with Pollination. The major roadblock to making energy simulations more accessible is the interoperability between BIM authoring software and simulation software. Oftentimes, the BIM models have to be cleaned or reconstructed to be used for running various simulations. Speckle seems to be a powerful tool that has the potential to help overcome these interoperability barriers. I believe it hasn’t been extensively explored to solve the energy simulation interoperability problem. Topologic can play a critical role when used in combination with Speckle to create clean analytical models aka Building Energy Models (BEM) for simulations.

Regeneration in the Built Environment

The World Green Building Council (WGBC) defines green building as “a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life”

Currently, there are a variety of reasons for real estate developers to go green, such as cost savings in the long run, environmental benefits, better branding, increased property price, client demand, regulatory compliance, tax breaks etc. The increasing awareness among potential buyers also influences builders to invest in green practices. Ultimately, going green is about more than just being environmentally responsible; it can also be a smart business decision that can help builders secure more clients and increase their success in the long run.

Increasingly the focus has been on carbon emissions, ignoring the critical ecological systems that make our planet healthy and functional. We need to shift away from that narrative and widen our perspectives to measure impact holistically. Most of the incumbent Green Building Rating Systems (GBRS) recognise this and have criteria to be met for energy, water, materials, waste, site, health & comfort and outdoor quality. However, the weights for each of the categories vary and we need a common framework to compare with, so we can identify the gaps of each GBRS and do more than what’s required to obtain the respective certification.

Several ecological and social indicators are often overlooked for carbon emissions.
Several ecological and social indicators are often overlooked for carbon emissions.

The Living Building Challenge (LBC) is a rigorous certification program that evaluates the sustainability and environmental impact of buildings. It seeks to go beyond traditional green building standards by requiring projects to address net zero energy, waste and water, as well as the use of non-toxic, locally-sourced and sustainable materials. The certification process is based on the actual performance of the building, with 12 months of post-occupancy evaluation to ensure that the building is meeting the high standards set by the program. The LBC is not just a certification, but a philosophy and a movement towards a more sustainable and regenerative built environment.

How LBC compares to other GBRS and room for improvements to go beyond 'do no harm'.
How LBC compares to other GBRS and room for improvements to go beyond 'do no harm'.

Challenges on the Path of Regeneration

LBC is the toughest and most holistic framework amongst all GBRS to measure sustainability in the built environment but only a small percent of green buildings pursue LBC certification. Some bottlenecks for wider adoption of the framework are:

  1. The certification process is tedious and expensive - existing certification processes involve manually filling forms, writing narratives, and hiring an LBC expert throughout the process. The minimum cost of LBC certification is $10,000 and it is a major deterrent for any project not only in an emerging economy but also in a developed one.

  2. Misaligned incentives - While it is capital-intensive for owners to invest in building efficiency solutions, the operational savings are realised by users. This is the case with most multifamily residential projects and creates misalignment for owners to push the boundary on sustainability.

  3. The lack of innovative financial models to fund solutions is often the biggest challenge across geographies.

  4. The return on investment may not be lucrative enough - Like in every business, the costs need to be justified for the solutions implemented in a green building. Capital expenditure must be paid off through higher sale price, operational savings, productivity gains or some other quantifiable monetary measure. If the returns don’t make sense for a project, certification is not pursued.

  5. Since many stakeholders are involved throughout a project’s lifecycle, it becomes increasingly challenging to coordinate with everyone and align on goals and solutions.

  6. No standard, versatile BIM-based, digital-first system to evaluate a building’s performance efficiently and cost-effectively.

These challenges can be overcome by building novel solutions at the intersection of AECO technologies and new coordination mechanisms enabled by blockchain technology. Blockchain enables new incentive structures and tools to fund and build public goods.

Enter ReFi

Regenerative Finance (ReFi) is a global movement rooted in the theory of regenerative economics which explores how to create systems that restore & maintain natural resources essential for human and planetary well-being. Combining regenerative economics and decentralised finance (DeFi) provides powerful tools to apply systems change principles and game theory to accelerate climate action and coordinate at scale. It enables incentive structures that align the needs of humans with that of the planet, to create new synergies which are impossible to realise with existing systems. It has the potential to create a new financial system that is more resilient and equitable, one which incentivises both environmental and social good to shift us away from an extractive economy to a regenerative one. It empowers us with new tools to redefine what true value is and distribute it fairly. Some of the key characteristics and possibilities include:

  • Digital Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (dMRV) systems.

  • Transparency and immutability of data.

  • Design incentive structures to enable behaviour change.

  • Provides easier access to global finance.

  • Allows us to coordinate at scale and distribute value equitably.

  • Facilitates the institution of social justice.

  • Increased value flow to stakeholders by cutting out Intermediaries.

Quoting Letty Prados from her blog post - “A multitude of communities are emerging with the common objective of leveraging the blockchain technology to address sustainability challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, resource scarcity and the underpinning socio-economic and institutional structures that exacerbate these crises. At its core, this approach implies a change of paradigm and the ability to articulate a complex systems solution. Regenerative economics incentivises actions that increase systemic health and disincentivizes actions that lead to systemic degradation. It applies nature’s principles of regeneration to socio-economic systems, supporting equitable well-being and thriving ecosystems.

Some useful resources to dig deeper into the ecosystem:


RegenBuild is a collective that aims to transform the way we approach sustainable development in the built environment. It sets a higher standard than current GBRSs and aims to change the paradigm from sustainability to regeneration. It is focused on building public goods aka open-source tools to facilitate regeneration in the built environment. It consists of a regenerative framework, a protocol and a platform that enables a comprehensive and streamlined process to design, execute and track performance in a holistic way using the industry’s best practices. It is a flexible, transparent, efficient and effective system to ensure a building is designed, built and operated in the most resource-efficient way.

When done transparently, this process can serve as a foundation for evaluating the environmental benefits realised from a project. It improves investors’ confidence in the potential impact of the project and helps secure funding for the building systems that enable this efficiency. Tracking performance during the operational phase aims to create positive feedback loops with the occupants’ behaviour and incentivises them to take positive actions for sustained resource savings.

RegenBuild successfully implemented can provide a decentralised alternative to existing Green Building Rating Systems and offer a seamless way to prove building efficiency throughout a project’s lifecycle. The key parts of RegenBuild include:

  1. RegenBuild Framework: An open framework based on regenerative principles that go beyond carbon and existing GBRS metrics. It incorporates a more holistic approach to value impact and upholds a higher standard of sustainability. Building on the work of giants such as LBC and REGEN Tool, it aims to guide the stakeholders to design, build and operate through a regenerative paradigm. A common language for talking about built environment regeneration helps the community to coalesce around it, eases communication barriers and improves coordination while building collective futures.

  2. Platform: A set of tools, products and workflows to digitally measure, report and validate (dMRV) the performance of a project through all phases of a project’s lifecycle, through the lens of the framework. With modularity, versatility and interoperability as core principles, the tools are designed to connect and work with major software platforms used in AECO workflows. This is made possible with the incredible work done by the AEC open source community with Speckle, Topologic, Ladybug Tools, BlenderBIM and IFC to name a few.

  3. Protocol: A system to align and incentivise stakeholders to encourage positive outcomes with a reward system through all phases of a project i.e., design phase, construction, operations and beyond. It encourages positive behaviours among stakeholders to do their best towards making their project regenerative. The impact contributed by each stakeholder i.e., builder/investor, architects and engineers, construction firms, validators, users, etc is quantified and impact certificates or credits are issued for the same. It ensures the integrity of the system and executes actions to reward the stakeholders with smart contracts.

RegenBuild represents a novel approach to revamping the process of measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) for sustainable development in the built environment. By focusing on transparency, versatility, collaboration and decentralisation; it has the potential to revolutionise the way we design, construct, and operate green buildings. Its integrated approach to incentivising positive outcomes at every step leads to significant social and environmental benefits.

Sustainability vs Regeneration
Sustainability vs Regeneration
It is no longer enough to be sustainable, how do we transition to a regenerative paradigm?
It is no longer enough to be sustainable, how do we transition to a regenerative paradigm?

RegenBuild Solution Scope

For Owners or Real Estate Developers

  1. Align incentives and proportionately reward owners to encourage them to do more.

  2. Introduce innovative financial models to make certification affordable or free.

  3. Provide easy access to finance the green assets of a project.

  4. Make it easier & cheaper to get technical help. Have a global network of experts who can assist in the certification process.

For Technical Experts and Validators

  1. Create an open platform, allow stakeholders (experts & consultants) to plug in and provide services.

  2. Digitise and gamify the certification process to make it more fun, and build tools with templates for every phase.

  3. Improve existing workflows for holistically measuring and verifying impact transparently.

  4. Better collaboration systems to ensure efficient data flows and minimal rework for environmental analysis using simulations.

For Investors

  1. Build trust for impact investors by transparently disclosing impact measurement methodology.

  2. Identify an optimum set of solutions with a good cost-to-benefit ratio. Some are low-hanging fruits which have to be captured and others are more capital-intensive. In combination, if the solutions offer reasonable returns, they should be financeable by institutions and individuals.

  3. Link solutions to science-based targets and local regulatory mandates for increasing confidence on impact. Goals-based funding.

  4. Improve the due diligence process for qualifying owners to easily access finance.

The protocol aims to align with science-based targets to sets benchmarks for sustainability in the built environment and map those with local & national mandates applicable to the project. The mapping helps in evaluating whether a project is meeting targets to help stay on course of meeting our climate goals. The project is awarded a score based on how close it comes to meeting all the requirements of the LBC framework.

Typical Design and Construction Lifecycle

The construction lifecycle is a comprehensive process that encompasses multiple stages, each with its specific goals and requirements. In this blog post, we will explore the five primary phases of the construction lifecycle: Conceptual Design, Design Development, Final Design Documentation and Permit Application, Construction, and Operations. Understanding these phases will give you a deeper appreciation of the intricate planning, execution, and completion of a construction project.

An overly simplified flow of a construction project from design to operations.
An overly simplified flow of a construction project from design to operations.
  1. Conceptual Design: The Conceptual Design phase is the starting point of a construction project. In this phase, the project owner or developer works with architects, engineers, and other stakeholders to develop a preliminary vision for the project. The process typically involves identifying project goals, site analysis, preliminary space planning, and creating conceptual sketches and diagrams. The Conceptual Design phase focuses on refining the overall design intent, assessing feasibility, and establishing a preliminary budget and schedule.

  2. Design Development: During this phase, the project team refines the conceptual design and starts working on the more technical aspects of the project. This phase includes detailed design work, such as developing floor plans, elevations, and building sections. The project team also addresses structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, as well as exterior and interior finishes. Collaboration between architects, engineers, and other consultants is crucial to ensure that the design is coherent, meets the client's needs, and complies with applicable codes and regulations.

  3. Construction Documentation and Permit Application: In this phase, the project team finalizes the design and creates a complete set of construction drawings and specifications. These documents are used by contractors to price and build the project, and they serve as the basis for permit applications to local authorities. The team also conducts a thorough review of the design to ensure compliance with building codes and other regulations. Once the final design documentation is complete, the project owner or developer submits the necessary permit applications to the relevant authorities for approval.

  4. Construction: The Construction phase begins once the permits are obtained and a contractor is selected. During this phase, the contractor transforms the project design into a physical reality. The construction process typically involves site preparation, foundation work, structural work, installation of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, exterior and interior finishes, and landscaping. The project team, including the owner, architect, and construction manager, closely monitors the construction process to ensure quality, safety, and adherence to the project schedule and budget.

  5. Operations: Once the construction is complete and the project passes all required inspections, the operations phase begins. This phase includes the commissioning and handover of the completed building to the owner or facility manager, who assumes responsibility for the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the facility. The Operations phase involves ongoing building maintenance, repairs, and improvements, as well as periodic inspections and performance evaluations to ensure the building continues to meet the owner's needs and remains in compliance with applicable regulations.

A more realistic construction lifecycle looks more like the image below. The construction lifecycle is a complex and multifaceted process that requires careful planning, coordination, and execution. Each phase of the lifecycle builds upon the previous one to create a successful and functional project. Understanding these phases and their roles in the overall construction process will provide valuable insight into the world of construction and the incredible effort that goes into bringing a project from concept to reality.

Actual AEC workflow as visualised by Ian Keough of Hypar.
Actual AEC workflow as visualised by Ian Keough of Hypar.

Typical Green Building Certification Process

Leader in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) is the world’s most widely used green building certification program. Developed by the US Green Building Council, LEED is a voluntary rating system that provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operation and maintenance solutions. LEED certification as shown in the image below pretty much mimics the typical construction lifecycle with checks and reviews at critical milestones. RegenBuild follows a similar process to evaluate projects through the lifecycle of projects.

Image source: Ongreening
Image source: Ongreening

RegenBuild Protocol and Mechanism


RegenBuild protocol has three key components that demonstrate the efficiency of a building project throughout its lifecycle: Proof of Efficient Design, Proof of Execution, and Proof of Performance. These three proofs are essential parts of the RegenBuild Framework that help ensure buildings are designed, constructed, and operated with the highest levels of resource efficiency.

  1. Proof of Efficient Design refers to the design phase of a building project, where architects, engineers, and other stakeholders work together to create a design that maximizes resource efficiency and minimizes environmental impact. The Proof of Efficient Design requires that these designs adhere to established best practices and industry standards, as well as the specific guidelines set forth by the RegenBuild Framework such as meeting science-based targets & local mandates, as well as going beyond and making the project regenerative. By providing transparent documentation of design choices, materials, and technologies used in the project, stakeholders can easily evaluate the project's potential for sustainability and resource efficiency.

  2. Proof of Execution focuses on the construction phase of a building project. It ensures that the sustainable design principles and resource-efficient strategies established during the design phase are accurately implemented throughout the construction process. Proof of Execution entails thorough documentation and verification of materials, techniques, and technologies used during construction. By maintaining strict quality control and providing transparent reporting, RegenBuild can validate that the project was executed as per the design goals and strengthen investor confidence in the project's potential for long-term resource efficiency.

  3. Proof of Performance refers to the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of a building's operational efficiency throughout its lifecycle. This includes tracking various parameters, such as energy and water consumption, indoor air quality, and occupant comfort, among others. RegenBuild validators deploy technologies such as IoT devices and machine learning algorithms to collect and analyse real-time data on building performance. This data-driven approach allows for the identification of inefficiencies, optimisation opportunities, and the creation of positive feedback loops to encourage sustainable behaviour among occupants. The Proof of Performance ensures that the building's performance aligns with the established design goals and contributes to sustained resource savings and a reduced environmental footprint.

The three proofs are critical components of the RegenBuild network that help ensure a comprehensive, transparent, and flexible approach to sustainable development in the built environment. With these components, RegenBuild can digitally measure, report and validate (dMRV) a project's commitment to resource efficiency and environmental responsibility throughout its entire lifecycle.

Novel mechanism to orchestrate data, financial and incentive flows.
Novel mechanism to orchestrate data, financial and incentive flows.

Stakeholders and Roles

  1. Owners - Owners are typically the builders or investors who are the main financiers of a project. They are the most important decision-makers in a project and are the highest-leverage stakeholders who can greatly influence the solutions to be implemented in projects.

  2. Service Providers - They work on behalf of the owner or users to provide services required to carry out the project and maintain the infrastructure. These professionals include architects, landscape designers, engineers, MEP consultants, project management consultants (PMC), contractors and facility managers (FMC) etc.

  3. Validators - Individuals or organisations who work to ensure the smooth running of protocol, build tools for validation and also validate the work done by service providers. They are compensated by the protocol for ensuring the projects are meeting required conditions at various stages of the project, provide feedback and approve the project to proceed along the lifecycle.

  4. Users - Users consist of the people who live in or use the property. They play a crucial role in the operational phase of the project and have the most influence on operational resource savings (energy, water, waste).

  5. Impact Marketplace - A marketplace where owners can apply for funding the green assets of a project or monetise the impact certificates and credits. This is a critical part of the protocol which enables the execution of the designed solutions in a project.

Process and Financial Flow

  1. Starting from the owner, they hire architects to come up with the conceptual design for the project.

  2. The conceptual design is submitted to the protocol for validation. Validators provide feedback to architects or approve the conceptual design if all the required conditions are met.

  3. Architects make changes to the conceptual design and submit the final design for Proof of Efficient Design (PoED) validation. At this stage, the validators perform a detailed analysis and approve the design or provide feedback until all the required conditions are met. An impact certificate is issued if the project passes PoED.

  4. The impact certificate can be leveraged by the owner to qualify for green finance. PoED gives investors confidence on the impact potential of a project. They conduct due diligence and financial feasibility before releasing funds.

  5. The funds raised are used to implement the designed solutions as the project moves into the construction phase. Checks are conducted at regular intervals throughout the construction phase to ensure funds are used appropriately.

  6. The contractors or PMC who are executing the project provide evidence at intervals to prove project execution as per design.

  7. If all the required conditions are satisfied, validators approve the execution claims and issue an impact certificate for Proof of Execution (PoE).

  8. These impact certificates can be leveraged by the contractors and owners be compensated for successfully executing the project as intended. This helps in improving their reputation and qualifies them for future project financing and qualifications respectively.

  9. At this stage, the project is handed over to the users. Users hire facility managers to maintain the property and ensure the operations are smooth.

  10. The performance is monitored during the operational phase using IoT meters and other technologies. The performance is evaluated against the designed expectations and if the operational performance is as expected or better, impact credits are issued by the protocol.

  11. The credits are issued to both the owners and the users. The majority of credits are issued to the users to incentive them to continue their efforts in ensuring performance efficiency. This helps users understand their resource consumption patterns and also acts as a behaviour change agent and creates positive feedback loops.

In conclusion, RegenBuild represents a powerful mechanism for leap-frogging the built environment into a regenerative paradigm. By leveraging the power of technology and collaboration, RegenBuild aims to set a higher standard than current green building rating systems and build the tools to enable this transition. Its integrated approach to resource efficiency and stakeholder engagement has the potential to lead to significant environmental benefits, while also improving investor confidence and creating positive feedback loops to encourage sustainable behaviour among occupants. With its emphasis on transparency, interoperability, modularity and collaboration; RegenBuild has the potential to transform the way we design, construct, and operate green buildings, creating a more resilient and equitable system that financially incentivises environmental and social good.

Sign and Collect

Thank you for reading, if you resonate with the thesis and would like to show support in bringing this project to life, consider signing/minting and collecting this piece as an NFT. Early support will gain you governance access to the protocol. Additionally, any significant contributions will be recognised and attributed to the future growth into a DAO.

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