Fondations #2: data for greener projects

Foundations, Leonard's brand new podcast, gives a voice to entrepreneurs who are transforming mobility, construction, real estate and energy. Every two weeks, we chat with the movers and shakers who are building the city of tomorrow. For our second episode, Guillaume Bazoin, Lead Open Innovation & Startups at Leonard, welcomes Guillaume Lafont, CEO and co-founder of Combo Solutions, a start-up that uses new technologies to monitor environmental performance indicators. Let's take a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of this start-up and the secrets of its algorithm.

How can we bring the major environmental challenges to bear on work in the field? How do environmental issues translate into operational realities? These are the questions pondered by Guillaume Lafont. 

His answer? To take a collective approach, using a set of digital tools to set an achievable environmental performance and make the right design choices to reach this goal. 

Working towards green entrepreneurship 

With 15 years of experience as a contractor in construction and building engineering, Guillaume Lafont is well versed in environmental issues. To the point of embarking, with his long-time associates, on a year-long road trip to discover new initiatives for reducing the carbon footprint of the construction sector.  

In 2016, the three acolytes traveled to more than 25 countries, mainly in South Asia, to meet with local construction players developing construction techniques and tools to enhance the sustainability of projects. 

Back from this initiatory trip, the small team tackled sustainable construction challenges head on, nearly adopting it as “a struggle”. However, the topic had not quite reached the top of the agenda in the sector, as players struggled to address the major environmental issues in the field.   

"There is a disconnect between the major environmental challenges, their real and factual urgency, and what we experience on a daily basis in our operations. "

Guillaume Lafont  CEO and co-founder of Combo Solutions

Despite the ongoing development of a legislative framework with the E+C label, which aims to make positive energy buildings more widespread, many obstacles remain. Such as what Guillaume Lafont describes as the “hot potato syndrome”: design offices, clients and investors pass the buck, claiming a lack of return on investment, without anyone really tackling the subject in the end.

"I think the answer to this hot potato syndrome is to take a collective approach. You have to work in a very open and collaborative way."

Guillaume Lafont CEO and co-founder of Combo Solutions

Combo Solutions was created in April 2017 with the aim of using digital technology to make environmental performance levers accessible to all. This will help to reconcile ecology and economy, in the short and long term. 

Exploring to improve foresight 

One of the tools offered by Combo Solutions is VizcabExplo. Developed by Thomas Jusselme, co-founder of the start-up, this technology makes it possible to forecast a building’s energy performance as early as the planning and design phases 

In concrete terms, VizcabExplo makes it possible to develop several scenarios in order to determine the best actions to take during the construction phase to obtain the most efficient and sustainable building possible. All of this thanks to the power of data. 

“For each of these scenarios, we estimate the energy, carbon and biosourced performance, which we render as data visualizations,” explains Guillaume Lafont. Among other things, these data visualizations influence the choice of materials and even the purpose of the building. “For example, the solution might tell me that if I want to use concrete and add a bit more solar power, I should perhaps skip this or that flooring. And in the service sector, this can have an impact on marketability,” explains Guillaume Lafont 

VizcabExplo thus addresses the entire construction chain, from the design office to the project owner, via the property developer, and enables them to open up new business opportunities.  

"Everyone is interested in reducing carbon emissions. Project management companies can no longer ignore this topic. They must increase their skills and acquire the tools that will enable them to develop new expertise."

Guillaume Lafont CEO and co-founder of Combo Solutions

Today, Combo Solutions can take pride in its vast client portfolio of construction and building contractors: Unibail Rodamco Westfield, VINCI Construction and Icade Immobilier. 

What do we do?

The VINCI Group created Leonard to tackle the challenges posed by the transformation of regions and lifestyles. Our goal is to unite a community of key stakeholders in order to build the city of the future together.