Why we invested in Aeroseal — a Gigacorn made of flying chewing gum
A technology company under the radar in Ohio has grown a genius energy efficiency solution for buildings with more impact potential than anything else we have seen.
By: Jacob Bro
Nobody likes a draft. Not in the living room nor at the office. But it isn’t just people. As we have learned during our ongoing deep dive into building energy efficiency, our planet is the biggest sufferer of air leakages.
To understand why, consider the simple math:
According to the IEA, buildings consume 30% of global final energy and cause 28% of energy-related CO2 emissions* and 30–40% of that is typically spent on space heating and cooling and the share is growing rapidly.
Energy demand for space cooling has more than tripled since 1990 and is alone responsible for emissions of about 1 GtCO2 and about 8.5% of total final electricity consumption.
The need for innovation in HVAC technology, insulation, building materials and more to meet this challenge — including in the global south — is massive and we therefore expect to make several investments in this area.
So where to begin? Easy answer. In the US, 20–50% of all that space conditioning energy is simply lost! Some 100 million US homes have leaky HVAC ducts and building envelopes and loose roughly half their air every hour. In effect, the U.S. consumes 1,172 TWh of energy annually to replace conditioned air that escapes through duct and envelope leaks according to DOE data. That equals twice the energy used by the US aviation sector per year.
So if every U.S. home simply sealed its leaky HVAC ducts and building envelopes, it would save billions annually in energy costs and on a global scale including also commercial buildings, air sealing alone could save a total of 0.7Gt of GHG equivalents per year or almost 1.4% of annual global CO2 emissions.**
Air sealing is just not that simple however. Thats why Aeroseal, a fast growing technology company based in Dayton, Ohio is sitting on a unique opportunity to bend the curve of climate change and build a multibillion dollar business.
Aeroseal has developed and perfected a combination of friendly but effective patented sealing chemistry alongside its AI and IoT equipped installation hardware that enable its B2B clients in the HVAC and construction industries to seal leaky air ducts and building envelopes that were otherwise too expensive, too time and labor intensive, or outright impossible to fix otherwise.
Aeroseal’s machines inject a “fog” of aerosolised vinyl polymer particles — a substance not too dissimilar to chewing gum and equally harmless — into a pressurised interior airspace such as the ductwork of a home or commercial building or an entire house, apartment, or building floor. The particles are sized for the occasion using proprietary algorithms and travel with the air stream of the draft until they reach the cracks that create it, and then settle around these sometimes invisible leaks until they are sealed. Problem solved, energy loss minimised. Not to mention 10x faster than a conventional manual seal job and equally effective in existing as well as new buildings.
As additional benefit, Aeroseal also improves indoor comfort, indoor air quality, and sound penetration while preventing moisture intrusion. That is also a big deal not least in a post covid world.
A potential Gigacorn with strong traction
Aeroseal is more than a promising new technology, however. It is around 100 people running a battle tested and profitable business with double digit millions of annual revenue. It is over 1,000 dealer partners across 27 countries and sealing technology applied to over 100 million sq ft of commercial space and more than 175,000 homes to date.
But Aeroseal has been way ahead of its own market — and CEO and founder Amit Gupta knows this. He also knows that times are changing and that climate awareness and new energy efficiency regulation is creating the tailwind that will shift markets upside down and can make Aeroseal realise its full potential as a “Gigacorn” — one of the rare companies that can actually mitigate gigatons of CO2 emissions.
Thats why Amit has decided to risk an otherwise safe and successful position that would make any self-made entrepreneur proud in order to aim for the full impact and potential of what he has started. As Amit explained on our first zoom call in early 2021, he feels obliged to take this leap.
Thats why he has invited a few highly purpose aligned and strategically positioned investors inside to help accelerate Aeroseal’s journey. And that is why we are both thrilled and proud to join Amit and his amazing team on their important mission.
We are also excited to team up with our friends at Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Energy Impact Partners, and Building Ventures to support the growth of what is one of the most meaningful investment opportunities we have yet encountered.
*) This number excludes the footprint of construction including energy intensive building materials such as steel and cement which raises the share to almost 40%.
**) Energy Savings estimates based on a few dozen papers and /or DOE analyses
2150 is a venture capital firm investing in technology companies that seek to sustainably reimagine and reshape the urban environment and enable a sustainable and scalable future of mass urbanisation. 2150’s investment thesis focuses on major unsolved problems across what it calls the ‘Urban Stack’, which comprises every element of the built environment, from the way our cities are designed, constructed and powered, to the way people live, work, move, and are cared for. 2150.vc