A group of Oxford graduates have launched what they claim to be a one of its kind real estate app app that sits “neatly at the intersection of urbanisation, sustainable living, and the emerging international opportunities”.
Called Propy, the app provides home listings complete with sustainability score, with the goal of motivating better choices for foreign investors in these large, global cities, its founders claim.
The app’s primary feature is an algorithm for calculating the sustainability score for a property. Every listing shows a sustainability score from 1 to 10, which combines information about air pollution, public transportation, school access, walkability, noise, crime rate and building certifications.
This score will provide a more holistic view of what a sustainable property should be like and it will encourage buyers to pay attention to building’s energy efficiency, CO2 emissions and green building credentials.
“Many experts point to the fact that the water and electricity subsidies will soon be cut”, says Natalia Karayaneva, founder of Propy Inc. Karayaneva conducted research on Sustainability Assessment for Real Estate at Oxford University, with a case study in Middle East. “And with that comes a stronger focus on sustainability in the residential real estate sector.”
Last year the UAE’s Minister of Energy, Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj al Mazroui, said that residents of the UAE were not incentivised to conserve water or electricity, by and large due to the extensive government utility subsidies.
However with the oil price dropping, the government has urged for subsidy reform. In October 2015, The National reported the UAE’s target to reduce reliance on natural gas for power from current levels above 90% to 70% by 2020.
The effects of non-sustainable construction on the environment are also not to be underestimated. In her research, Karayaneva interviewed real estate experts in the Middle East including policy makers, developers and architects. “The built environment has a very negative impact on the environment: 39% of energy in the UAE is used by the residential sector,” she noted.
For international real-estate buyers, the app will also combine property listings from global cities and promote them to foreign investors in their native language. The app also links local real-estate brokers with foreign buyers so that potential deals can be made more efficiently and faster.
The app has been launched first in Dubai, Beijing, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami and Moscow.