Contech to Accelerate Cleantech: Seeding Emerging Innovation Programs for Construction Productivity and Energy Efficiency Integration; Preprint

Ankur Podder, Shanti Pless, Stacey Rothgeb, Sarah Truitt, Sven Mumme

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Investments in U.S.-based start-ups that focus on advanced building construction technologies to increase construction productivity (contech) surged to approximately $3.1 billion in 2018 (as per Crunchbase data). More recently, emerging programs by government funding agencies, philanthropic foundations, and venture capitalists have been instrumental in supporting contech start-ups for innovations that increase productivity of energy efficiency integration and accelerate clean energy technologies (cleantech) for the buildings sector. These programs include R&D support and funding mechanisms for contech and cleantech. Traditionally, contech and cleantech are considered as two different innovation ecosystems. To enhance and scale up energy efficiency in buildings, creative programs that bring together contech and cleantech are critical. This paper provides a landscape assessment of the "contech-for-cleantech" innovation ecosystem in the U.S. and its impact in accelerating technology readiness and the development pipeline of "contech-for-cleantech". Technologies highlighted are robotics for retrofits, prefabrication of energy-efficient products, and advanced manufacturing of low-carbon net-zero buildings construction. Programs discussed include those led by (1) government funding agencies: American-Made Challenges with prizes like E-ROBOT for retrofits with robotics, (2) philanthropic foundations: Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) that includes focus on energy efficiency and prefabrication, and (3) venture capitalists: Shadow Ventures Green Building Accelerator program which provides funding support to start-ups with ambitious plans for decarbonizing the built environment. This paper will also expand upon robust processes and criteria involved in judging and down-selection of start-ups through vetting and feedback from national lab researchers and industry experts in both cleantech and contech.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 2022
Event2022 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings - Pacific Grove, California
Duration: 21 Aug 202226 Aug 2022


Conference2022 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings
CityPacific Grove, California

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5500-83262


  • building technology
  • clean energy technology
  • construction automation
  • construction technology
  • emerging technologies
  • energy efficiency
  • entrepreneurship
  • government funding
  • housing
  • innovation ecosystems
  • investment
  • modular construction
  • philanthropic organizations
  • productivity
  • start-ups
  • venture capitalists


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