Climate

Honeywell and Trane back start-up making low-carbon alternative to concrete

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Canada-based Nexii grows to $2 billion in three years, continues expansion
Key Points
  • The creation of concrete emits 2 billion tons of carbon annually.
  • Canada-based Nexii has created a new wall system that the company claims is not only climate safe, but climate resilient.
  • Backers include Honeywell and Trane, Lotus Capital and Beedie capital. Total funding so far: $180 million.

Real estate is one of the worst carbon offenders, and concrete is a massive part of that. The process to create concrete emits more than 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. That's why the race is on to come up with alternatives to concrete in construction.

Canada-based Nexii has created a new wall system that the company claims is not only climate-safe, but also climate-resilient. In just three years, it has grown to attain a valuation of $2 billion and is expanding rapidly in the United States. 

Nexii makes panels with a proprietary material called Nexiite on the outside and a steel core. They're very strong, but contain no concrete.

The walls are produced in a factory in a process that emits almost no greenhouse gases, then shipped to construction sites, reducing labor, materials and waste — and construction waste makes up about 40% of what goes into landfills.

The walls are also recyclable.

"However, the first thing that you would do is reassemble. You would move the building, reuse, rather than recycle. We've already had some buildings that we've been able to do that," said CEO Stephen Sidwell.

Nexiite is also resilient to kinds of natural disasters that are likely to become more common as the atmosphere warms from greenhouse gas emissions. Sidwell says tests showed the panels to be resistant against both fire and water. They also insulate, saving on energy costs — and the emissions associated with energy use.

Nexiite walls are already holding up several Starbucks, Popeye's, Marriotts and other commercial buildings, and can be used in residential homes.

"I can honestly say that the demand is really insatiable for the product," said Sidwell. "Unfortunately, right now, I would say 99% of the leads that we receive, we can't supply, which is a major problem. We're trying to scale as fast as we can throughout North America."

Sidwell, a serial entrepreneur, was the first investor in the company, but now backers include Honeywell, Trane, Lotus Capital and Beedie Capital. The company has raised $180 million so far.

Nexii just opened a new plant in Western Pennsylvania and is building another, using its own materials, outside of Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh plant is in partnership with actor Michael Keaton, who is a self-proclaimed environmentalist.

"I've always been interested in design and construction, but I only recently learned the game-changing impact the construction industry can have in improving the environment by adopting innovative, lower-carbon techniques," said Keaton in a release.