Pathing a New Way to Decarbonize: Sustainability Saas Platforms  

Energy Efficiency

To say that decarbonization in the commercial real estate sector is a daunting task has proved itself an understatement. When reading about sustainability, many see the huge cost of hardware upgrades, retrofitting, and regulatory fines. But, what if there was another, cost-effective way to make meaningful strides towards decarbonization?

Presenting sustainability intelligence platforms — the technological, data-driven contender for the decarbonization journey. These sustainability-first SaaS programs are specifically created to decrease carbon usage in commercial buildings and are the most cutting-edge approach to your ESG strategy.

“Paired with good operations and maintenance, [building management systems] save energy by helping to achieve balanced heating and cooling throughout the building,” says the report by The New York’s Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.

How do you reach “good operations” with your BMS data? Well, sustainability intelligence platforms have developed an answer.


In an emerging field, it can be challenging to evaluate and compare sustainability intelligence platforms. However, speaking solely to the Cortex platform, our clients who use our sustainability intelligence platform reach an average of 11% annualized energy savings. By providing actionable recommendations based on BMS data, we have also noticed trends in our platform’s data that clients who use more of Cortex’s operational recommendations and engage with our platform more frequently see higher carbon reduction results — providing proof to our method.

Plus, intelligence platforms are backed by your building’s data and environmental factors, meaning if you choose the right platform that has goals to grow with you through your decarbonization journey, the platform will automatically fit the specific needs of your building to drive the most amount of savings.


By reducing your annualized energy savings by an average of 11%, these platforms not only reduce your carbon impact, but they also open your ESG budget to making some of those physical upgrades later on.

Unlike the hardware decarbonization methods on this list, intelligence platforms track your savings for you, so you know exactly how well the platform is working for you. For example, Cortex clients see their return paid back in less than 6 months.

“We recently replaced the central plant in one of our major office buildings in New York and it cost $6 million. That project is expected to generate approximately 5% – 8% annual savings on energy costs going forward,” said Nick Bienstock of Savanna Fund. “In contrast, Cortex immediately cut our energy utilization by 14% (a massive number) at 110 William Street, and, after the $50,000 annual software cost, delivered $250,000 of annual savings.”

Operational Disruption

When you use a data-driven approach to decarbonizing your building, there are no invasive

installations and no major hardware upgrades required to integrate the platform. The only thing your tenants should notice is how their spaces are at more even temperatures as your engineers have the tools to anticipate issues all while reducing carbon impact.

Operation team support is key when introducing a new software into your building. Sustainability

intelligence platforms put the power of decarbonization in the hands of your engineers. While some individuals may need more guidance learning how to navigate the app or platform, there should be an internal structure to support your engineers when you work with the right decarbonization intelligence platform.

For example, at Cortex, our product team has spent years developing a data platform that was

created intentionally using behavioral science to ensure it is accessible and effective for engineers to use. We also offer the expertise of building sustainability and machine-learning experts on our customer success team to help support your operation teams and ease that learning curve so that you engineers feel empowered to drive large savings faster.

Other Considerations

Sustainability intelligence platforms not only reduce a significant amount of your carbon emissions, they can also open your budget with your saved energy bill costs so that you are able to invest in some of those most expensive physical upgrades later.

These platforms have been described in the industry as the “low-hanging fruit,” which is why we truly believe that prioritizing sustainability intelligence platform initiatives is the most strategic decision in the CRE decarbonization journey. Not only that, but data-driven intelligence platforms also provide a portfolio-wide solution that provides a long-term, growing solution. You will continue to grow your savings as the data-driven platform that leverages machine learning to continue to enhance its understanding of your building over time. Rather than static Capex investments that only make enhancements when initially installed, SaaS platforms are always improving and releasing features that deliver high-impact efficiency strategies and insights. Plus, SaaS sustainability platforms also have the ability to create new features to help you save in major ways.

Are Sustainability Intelligence Platforms the Future of Sustainability?

Decarbonization is a complicated path to take on, and it takes more than one solution to truly decarbonize. 

We have evaluated HVAC upgrades, LED light replacements, and window retrofits, but if you are looking for the most business-smart option to make the most impactful, significant strides that save you money and open your budget to make more expensive sustainability investments down the road, then the sustainability intelligence platforms are the way to go. 

At Cortex, we are on a mission to decarbonize the built environment. If you have questions about your buildings’ decarbonization journey, we are here to help. Get your free decarbonization plan today to get started!

Related Content

Window Retrofitting in Sustainable Office Buildings  

Energy Efficiency

While your windows may not be actively producing carbon emissions, they have the potential to make a large impact on your energy usage.

How Effective Are LED Lights to Reduce Carbon Emissions?

Energy Efficiency

LED lights are a reasonably affordable option, but it isn’t a decarbonization method that will move the needle in any significant way.

What Are the Decarbonization Benefits of HVAC Upgrades?

Energy Efficiency

Did you know that 28% of all carbon emissions come ...

Ready to learn more about Cortex? Let's chat.

From optimizing operations to making better decisions across your portfolio, Cortex helps you take action to achieve your decarbonization goals - today, tomorrow, and in 2030. Set up time with one of our experts to talk.