The secret life of buildings

Editor's Note: To learn more about energy-efficient buildings, check out VERGE@Greenbuild, November 12-13, in San Francisco, where Riggs Kubiak will be speaking.

I arranged to meet Riggs Kubiak, the founder and CEO of a startup company called Honest Buildings, at Le Pain Quotidien, at 800 17th Street N.W. He’d been there for a while so we walked around the corner and did an interview at Teaism at 800 Connecticut Ave. There, he told me about his plans for Honest Buildings, an online networking platform that is designed to connect the owners of buildings with architects, contractors, suppliers, tenants, just about anyone with an interest in commercial real estate.

Riggs, who is just 31, is smart and passionate guy who has been fascinated by real estate since his college days. He was formerly head of sustainability for Tishman Speyer, a big real estate firm. With Honest Buildings, he’d like to create a hybrid of Facebook-LinkedIn-Yelp-TripAdvisor for real estate, and help drive transparency, efficiency and sustainability in the building industry. Investors seem to like the idea: Honest Buildings has just completed a seed round of financing led by Rockport Capital Partners and Mohr Davidow Ventures, two leading venture capital firms.

“Our platform can be a way to catalyze demand for efficient, high-performance buildings,” Riggs told me. “Transparency can have a monumental, game-changing effect.”

Driving more efficient and transparent commerce

If all goes well, he says, the website will connect building owners to one another, enable them to seek out architects and contractors who have been endorsed by others, discover efficiency projects they might otherwise overlook and showcase their buildings for lenders, brokers and other real estate professionals. Tenants can use the platform to learn more about places they might want to rent.

Dhiraj Malkani, a partner at Rockport who told me about the company, said by email:

We love Riggs’ vision for Honest Buildings and the passion he has to make it a reality. His vision was to create the first on-line network of building owners and service providers to serve as a platform to drive more efficient and transparent commerce, and improve information sharing between stakeholders in building projects.

Other investors include Sunil Paul and Nick Allen of Spring Ventures; Lisa Gansky, the entrepreneur and author of The Mesh; and Michael Adler, a former executive vice president of travel website Expedia. In a statement, Adler said: “Honest Buildings is bringing the same type of efficiencies to the real estate market that Expedia and Trip Advisor did to the travel industry,” said Adler.

Image of glass office building Vladitto via Shutterstock.

Next page: Will they draw a crowd?