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This AI climatetech founded by Harvard classmates raises $2.5M to achieve green construction

Pathways founders
Picture credits: Pathways

Building materials are a key driver of greenhouse gas emissions accounting for nearly 11% of the overall emissions from the real estate sector, and the construction industry needs to adopt new techniques to build sustainably. As a result, there is a surge in the need for environmental disclosures from material manufacturers including Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), the summaries of a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), which includes a verified assessment of a building material’s environmental impact. The real challenge is that LCAs and EPDs are still manually created which is costly, complex, inaccurate, and slow, taking around 6-12 months. 

New York-based climate AI startup Pathways resolves this issue with its AI-enabled platform to automate the creation of real-time LCAs and EPDs for material manufacturers. It lets EPDs be automatically generated by ingesting data from a customer’s IT infrastructure around raw materials inputs, transportation to the site, and manufacturing processes.

Now, the AI startup has secured $2.5 million in a pre-seed funding round led by Pi Labs and Zacua Ventures that recently backed UK-based sustainability startup Concrete4Change. Other investors in this round include Blue Lion Global, Positive Ventures, Jetstream, Refashiond, Great Wave Ventures, and Anglet. Notably, this round was also oversubscribed by $1.5 million.

It will use the fresh funds for its AI-driven sustainability platform that will decarbonise building materials and enable these material manufacturers to measure and minimise emissions.

AI platform to measure chemicals and carbon

Pathways was founded in 2022 by Harvard classmates – Leise Sandeman, a former McKinsey consultant who scaled a venture in material recycling, and Alex Cooper, who has spent the last decade scaling startups including Uber, Clutter and Two Chairs.

The platform enables building materials manufacturers to simplify the creation of product life cycle analyses. It is like the environmental nutrition facts for materials that measures carbon and chemicals instead of calories and carbs. 

Pathways’ AI-enabled technologies integrate across operations, ingesting supplier data and giving manufacturers insight into the environmental emissions impact. This enables product decarbonisation through emission hot spots, material life-time trade-offs and creation of EDPs.

The startup counts Stella-Jones, North America’s premier provider of pressure treated wood products, amongst its first customers. 

Pathways’ Co-Founder Leise Sandeman said: “Our mission is to help material manufacturers decarbonise, building out the data-layer for sustainable construction by generating LCAs and EPDs across product categories leveraging our AI-enabled platform. We are thrilled to be supported by Pi Labs, Zacua Ventures and our other investors. This round will allow us to accelerate our mission, expanding our engineering and sales team.”

Faisal Butt, Founder and Managing Partner, Pi Labs, said: “We saw from our 12th Growth Programme that Leise and Alex are a powerhouse founding team and we’re very excited about the growth potential of Pathways, with its plans to expand from building materials into other product categories including furniture. With this being our first completed deal from this year’s Growth Programme, we start 2024 continuing to make ESG-focused investments which combine our commitment to both sustainability in the built environment and pushing the boundaries of technology innovation.”

Rhiannah Carver, Senior Director of Sustainability at Stella-Jones, a leading North American producer of industrial pressure-treated wood products, said: “Sustainability is central to our business, and it is a responsibility for us as a manufacturer of infrastructure products across Canada and the United States. Working with innovative technologies like Pathways’ platform helps us stay at the forefront of sustainability by generating product-level life-cycle analysis and improving visibility into emissions and environmental impacts along our value chain.”

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