How do you know if a building is really green? If you are a prospective tenant looking for space, an employee looking for a healthy environment, or you are just interested in architecture and design, where do you go? How do you find out what people think of the places they work? As of today, you can go to Honest Buildings, a startup that lets you "See what's happening inside buildings and connect with people who live, work and spend time there." Founder Riggs Kubiak described it in Forbes:
Online reviews have already transformed many industries. Yelp brought reviews to restaurants and TripAdvisor brought reviews to travel. There is a review site for nearly every other industry except real estate – and yet we spend nearly 90% of our time in buildings! Think of the amount of capital that goes into real estate decisions, whether it is renting an apartment, buying a home, procuring services for a building, or leasing space for a business. [Wouldn’t] you would love to know what people are actually thinking about those buildings?”
Data on 50,000 buildings containing over 10 billion square feet have already been listed on the site, although there is not much to be gleaned other than the basics at this point; I checked out Discovery Headquarters above and there are the basics about it being LEED Platinum; the site is brand new and there are not a lot of reviews and comments yet. As Yoni Cohen notes in Forbes,
To succeed, Honest Buildings needs to scale – quickly. If the platform attracts a base of real estate stakeholders – from owners to tenants, architects to engineers, and lighting professionals to window contractors, among many others – network effects will accelerate adoption.
This could be a really important tool, not only for marketing of green building, but with the public review and comment section, a great way of keeping building owners and operators on their toes, ensuring that they continue the practices in cleaning and maintenance that are green and healthy.
One can see it beginning to work in the review section of the high-profile Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation building, where people are adding comments, much like they would on a review website like Yelp.
Founder Riggs Kubiak notes in the press release: "We are bringing transparency and connectivity to the massive real estate industry, which has traditionally been fragmented, opaque and inefficient." This may be a bit of a problem, as many in the real estate industry love opacity and secrecy, it is the way they work. They also have lawyers; I can imagine what might happen if a whole pile of negative reviews came in for a Trump building.
On the other hand, Honest Buildings has created a very attractive and easy to use platform. This might really catch on. Sign up at Honest Buildings.