Google X spin-out Flux is harnessing data to make designing buildings better

The first startup to spin out of Google’s moonshot lab, Google X, and raise funding from VCs is focused on a noble aim: helping make constructing buildings more sustainable using software and data. On Tuesday, a startup called Flux is launching out of stealth — after being spun out of the X lab two years ago — with an early version of a data-driven design software product for building owners, developers and architects.

“It’s insane how antiquated the current building process is,” Flux co-founder Michelle Kaufmann, a leading architect who’s built a career on designing pre-fab and sustainable buildings, told me in an interview. Kaufmann and her three co-founders — all software engineers — have developed software that takes data about the requirements of new buildings, combines it with various data points and creates algorithms that enable building developers and architects to collaborate, input new data and streamline the construction in an efficient way. The software can also help the developers and designers make sustainable site-specific decisions.

energy consumptionKaufmann and co-founder Jen Carlile wanted to make the construction industry better and easier not just for the companies working in it, but also for the planet. Buildings (through the creation process and the energy management of) are responsible for consuming almost half of the energy used in the U.S. With more data, buildings can be built more intelligently and can consume less energy in both the construction and operation phases.

Flux has raised a series A of $8 million from investors DFJ, Borealis Ventures, Google Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. Kaufmann tells me that Flux will be using the round to build out its software product and hire more team members. Currently, Flux employs around 20 people.

Flux’s software product won’t be available to the public until potentially the beginning of 2015. It has┬ásome early projects in the works now in urban areas, but the company declined to discuss those.

Most ideas in Google X are killed off in the research and discussion process. A tiny amount (autonomous cars, Google Glass) are commercialized. Some ideas live on as projects in other areas of Google, and a very small amount are spun out.