A British Columbia construction startup is looking to go global with a concrete alternative.
Vancouver-based Nexii Building Solutions is expanding to meet current local and national demand with a series of new factories and is scaling up for global expansion.
The company produces a proprietary low-carbon material meant to replace concrete called Nexiite and combines the material with a design and assembly process to create modular building components.
“It’s a more economical building methodology using far more sustainable materials to produce ultra-high performance buildings that are disaster resilient in a fraction of the time it would normally take compared to normal building methodologies. It uses far less energy and maintenance across the life cycle of the building,” Nexii CEO Stephen Sidwell states.
The company originally created Nexiite to respond both to climate change and the ongoing housing shortage in Canada, Sidwell said.
“We can dramatically accelerate the construction of sustainable, cost-efficient, and durable buildings. This was key to the market when we started Nexii and will continue to grow in importance as the demand for affordable energy-efficient buildings and housing stock increases,” he said.
Now that the firm is established it is shifting to a global perspective.
“We’re only 18 months old so the focus was to get operational as fast as we can, prove we can produce building material and once we did that, we realized it was time to start expansion programs.
“We believed there would be a global demand for the product, so we built our ISO (International Organization for Standardization) programs for global expansion from day one,” he said.
The company hired an ISO auditor to build out programs and hired a global ISO audit team from KPMG to assist them with expansion, Sidwell added.
The same conditions that have led to adoption of the material in North America also drive global demand, he added.
“Demand is all over the world from Africa to Europe, Asia, South America and North America. The same advantages that apply in North America apply to the rest of the world such as sustainability, speed of build and reduced complexity of building onsite and the fact that the material is naturally disaster-resilient,” Sidwell said.
The company’s first foray into expansion was a recently announced series of agreements to build plants in Alberta, Ontario and Hazelton, Pa. The company also recently retrofitted a 90,000 square foot facility in Squamish, B.C. to produce a prefinished panellized system for walls, floors, roofs and foundations.
“We’re going to continue to grow plants over the next two years in North America. We want to have national penetration as soon as possible and then we would start to roll out on a global basis,” Sidwell said.
“We particularly want to put in plants in areas that are potentially in a labour downcycle,” he added. “Areas that may have seen significant layoffs in recent times and that we know have existing facilities or great labour forces.”
While the global pandemic temporarily put the world economy on the back foot, Sidwell said Nexii was not adversely affected by new working conditions.
“The number of unsolicited inquiries we receive has doubled during COVID- 19. We are one of the fortunate companies where COVID has not affected us negatively, but positively,” he said.
“We can adhere to all the necessary COVID safety measures both in the factory and onsite. By reducing onsite building complexity and because of the speed of the build, we also reduce costs and risks for the developer.”
The pandemic has also seen a push from different sectors to not only help the economy recover but use the moment to act on climate change, Sidwell said.
“As North America looks to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been heightened political and corporate attention on ensuring this recovery is both economically and environmentally sustainable. We are experiencing a major surge in customer demand for our green construction products – a signal of the green economic recovery,” he said.