🏆 Butlr Named to Fast Company’s 2024 List of Most Innovative Companies, and Inc. Best in Business in AI & Data

Butlr Recognized as Top Innovator in YESSF

Ioanna Sotiriou

Head of Marketing


November 7, 2023


Today everyone here at Butlr HQ in the Bay Area is delighted to finally share a significant achievement: Butlr has been selected and recognized as one of the top innovators in the YES San Francisco Urban Sustainability Challenge. This initiative, backed by Deloitte, Salesforce, Citi, and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, is part of the World Economic Forum's broader mission to foster and advance innovation ecosystems.

The YES San Francisco Challenge sought solutions that could reimagine and revitalize the city of San Francisco, and we are proud to have been chosen to play a pivotal role in this endeavour, positioning the city as a leader in sustainability innovation.

Our approach combines artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms with body heat sensing technology to infer human presence and activity while being incapable of collecting personal information. Butlr Heatic™ wireless sensors magnetically mount to the wall or ceiling and provide real-time and historical spatial insights into how a space is used. 

“We are honored to be selected for the Yes SF program and are committed to helping address the 30-40% under-utilization of commercial real estate in San Francisco,” said Honghao Deng, CEO and co-founder, Butlr. “San Francisco’s reputation as a thriving, vibrant city for innovation and entrepreneurship is what attracted Butlr to put down roots here. Now, as part of the alliance between public and private stakeholders to revitalize the city, we can’t wait to help drive positive change on a local and global level.”

Visualization inspired by Gabriela Bílá and City Science Group, MIT Media Lab, directed by Kent Larson

Occupancy and traffic data are key data-sets in our pursuit of sustainability goals, and our aim to achieve 60% reduction in carbon emissions from commercial real estate. The staggering underutilization of large office spaces, where class A building designs allocate 250 square feet per person, but the reality is twice that, presents a significant opportunity for optimization. In the post-hybrid-work era, people use offices for in-person meetings and collaboration sessions, and less for individual work. In extreme cases, the only “commute-worth” office feature is the free lunch. People would only come in for free food and a near lunchtime group meeting. Optimizing the underused real estate footprint can bring CRE carbon emissions from 5.8 tonnes annually per person to just 2.51. By automating lighting and adopting demand-based ventilation, which accounts for 60% of a building’s operational costs, we can further reduce carbon emissions. Butlr’s collaboration with Carrier Abound is focused on demand response automation for HVAC control, further decreasing emissions from 2.51 to 2.23 tonnes. Partnering with Georgia Pacific Pro KOLO, allows for the use of traffic data to create intelligent, need-based cleaning schedules, pushing emissions even lower to 2.14 tonnes. This data-driven approach paves the way for a more sustainable and efficient future in buildings.

Why is this important for the Bay Area though? San Francisco currently faces a challenge where 30 to 40% of commercial real estate is underutilized. Our sensors are instrumental in identifying such underutilized spaces and optimizing energy consumption. Butlr can provide San Francisco’s employers, city planners and property managers with a better understanding of how the workforce uses commercial real estate based on actual behavior. For example, insights on foot traffic, occupancy levels and activity are critical for asset management, city planning and reducing carbon footprints.

Additionally, office chair rollbacks often signal impromptu meetings, and individuals squatting in large conference rooms for focused work may indicate their workspace is too cold, hot or noisy, yet this action negatively impacts a building’s heating/cooling requirements. Employers also use Butlr insights to reconfigure office layouts and hybrid work policies based on office location, individual roles and corporate culture. Further, applying AI to Butlr data produces layout and design suggestions depicting the best use of office space based on individual company needs as well as energy performance and sustainability.

“Like any major city, we have our challenges but we have to look at the change happening around us not as a reason to despair but as an opportunity to dream and think bigger,” said London Breed, Mayor of San Francisco. “We have to be bold. That’s in our DNA. Yes SF is a shared commitment to say, yes — yes to new opportunities, yes to new ideas, yes to creativity.”

But Butlr's technology goes beyond mere data collection. Our platform has the capability to discern subtle indicators of impromptu meetings, ensuring that meeting spaces are utilized efficiently. It can identify individuals seeking quieter, warmer, or cooler workspaces, enabling organisations to save energy by optimizing heating and cooling operations based on spatial behavior. Our strategic partnerships with industry leaders such as Carrier and Georgia Pacific widen the spectrum of possible applications, enabling us to harness and utilize data in innovative ways.

Our recognition as a top innovator in the YES San Francisco Urban Sustainability Challenge reaffirms our team’s unwavering commitment to shaping a more sustainable future. As we move forward, our dedication to the cause of sustainability remains steadfast, one innovative solution at a time. Stay tuned for more updates as we embark on this exciting journey of change and progress!

Join us in the pursuit of a sustainable future.


Let’s create your next big project together.

By clicking "Accept all cookies", you agree to store cookies on your device to improve site navigation, analyze the site and support itour marketing efforts. See our Privacy Policy for more information.