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Suman Kumar: Streamlining the Decarbonization Process for Real Estate

Suman Kumar: Streamlining the Decarbonization Process for Real Estate


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.

Welcome back! Spiffy here, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs working to make this world more equitable. Today I’m super excited to speak with Suman Kumar, the co-founder of BlueUrbn.

Spiffy: Welcome, Suman. Let’s jump right in. Can you tell me what challenge BlueUrbn is addressing?

Suman: Thanks for having me, Spiffy. Through BlueUrbn, we assist owners of commercial buildings in quantifying their structures' carbon emissions and pinpointing significant retrofit opportunities and energy-efficient solutions that lead to both cost reductions and the reduction of carbon emissions. BlueUrbn streamlines the process of decarbonizing and enhancing the energy efficiency of real estate, simplifying the complex journey of implementing energy upgrades for property owners.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Suman: Growing up in Nepal, I've witnessed climate change's stark impact, comparing it to the United States. I've seen its devastating effects on the Himalayan regions over the past decade. Urbanization and buildings contribute significantly to the challenge, responsible for 40% of emissions. BlueUrbn enables me to work towards decarbonizing urban development and combating climate change's adverse effects. My mission to mitigate these impacts drives and motivates me.

Spiffy: What would you say is the impact of your work?

Suman: At BlueUrbn, I directly support real estate and commercial property managers in their sustainability efforts, helping them achieve decarbonization goals and reduce carbon emissions. Currently, building owners face significant challenges like lengthy energy audits by consultants. BlueUrbn's engine simplifies this. With just an address, it quickly predicts energy efficiency improvements, offering a more efficient and accessible solution for real estate stakeholders.

Spiffy: That’s cool! Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make?

Suman: We have conducted remote energy assessments for five commercial distribution centers and warehouses operated by Goodwill SF. Through our evaluation, we've identified the opportunity to achieve a 76% reduction in their energy consumption, resulting in an annual carbon emissions reduction of 185 tons. Our forthcoming action involves the implementation of these energy-efficient measures.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Suman: After the Nepal earthquake, I collaborated with non-profits on disaster response and prevention projects that involved designing and manufacturing machines that built 5,365 shelters for over 26,000 earthquake victims. Through my social venture, I rebuilt two schools for over 150 students and built a digital learning platform for over 500 students who had limited access to education. After the COVID-19 pandemic, I led several COVID-19 response technological innovation projects in Nepal by spearheading collaborations with research labs from the University of California San Francisco, Berkeley, and Stanford. Through my manufacturing business, I built machines and equipment for waste-recycling factories for a local government, Nepal’s first aquaponics farm, and a research project for the United Nations.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Suman—it’s been an honor!

Suman Kumar is the co-founder of BlueUrbn. He is a professional welder, engineer, and social entrepreneur. He graduated from the University of Rochester with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and with a master’s degree in global affairs from Tsinghua University as a Schwarzman Scholar. As a Knight-Hennessy Scholar, he is currently pursuing a master's degree in sustainability and energy at Stanford University. (Nominated by Unshackled Ventures. First published on the Ladderworks website on October 4, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Sujit Kunte. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.