An Industry Partner
RET Ventures was created in 2017 in close collaboration with some of the most prominent REITs and private owner-operators of multifamily and single family properties in the United States. Along with our strategic partnerships, we had a unique mandate: identifying and nurturing companies that did not just have growth potential, but would tangibly address the very real technology and operational challenges that managers of rental real estate face.
Five years and 25 portfolio companies later, our approach has not changed. While we are opportunistic in assessing compelling solutions across the real estate spectrum, the vast majority of our efforts are focused on technologies that solve issues for rental operators — smart home technology, building-wide wifi, modular construction, fintech/insurtech solutions, and much more.
Growing Focus on ESG
Over the years, however, we’ve been spending more and more time on technologies that impact explicit “ESG” (environmental, social and governance)-related goals — and for good reason. The housing sector has a significant impact on society in terms of both its critical role in the lives of residents and its resource footprint. Many of our strategic investors as organizations are leaders among their peers, and set an example with respect to reducing energy and resource consumption, improving housing affordability and other environmental and social objectives. (It’s also worth noting that ESG efforts are also good business; according to a recent resident survey from RET strategic investor AMLI Residential, 59% of residents are open to paying a premium to live in a green community.)
To bring the collective insight and problem solving of the RET group to address these opportunities, we started an ESG working group made up of more than 20 leading multifamily and single-family rental executives. In this working group, which has been meeting regularly for over a year, we have focused entirely on identifying and evaluating pressing needs within the existing proptech ecosystem, and evaluating which technologies could make a real impact.
Launching a Dedicated Fund
And now, we’re excited to announce that we’re taking our ESG commitment to the next level with the official launch of a “Housing Impact Fund,” which will invest exclusively in technologies that address the pain points and opportunities identified via the group’s work. The vehicle — which is targeting an $80 million capital raise and is initially backed by two of our most prominent Strategic Investors in UDR and Essex Property Trust — will fuel the identification and growth of ESG solutions for the housing industry, including technologies that improve the environmental and social outcomes of new developments and existing properties.
Of the 25 investments we’ve made out of our core funds, many already address pressing ESG pain points, including Conservation Labs, Falkbuilt, Juno, Measurabl, PassiveLogic, and SmartRent. This new fund will allow us to delve even more deeply into this expanding space, and bring aligned capital, development partners and customers to startups that will help our many partners create more sustainable outcomes at their properties. Some of the areas within the ESG spectrum we hope to address include housing affordability, building health and safety, resident well-being, building energy reduction / reducing carbon emissions, efficient waste management, and ESG data collection and reporting.
As the real estate sector takes an increasingly visible role in shaping its impact on both the environment and society at large, we hope that the deployment of this fund will ultimately have an outsized positive impact for real estate operators, residents and other stakeholders.