Few people know that the construction and energy usage of buildings accounts for about half of the greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. So the more green building startups, the better. Today Arxx Building Products, the designers and makers of green home materials, received $16 million in a Series B financing for their energy-efficient homebuilding business. The round was led by Nth Power and Emerald Technology Ventures, and existing investor Element Partners.
While some researchers are working on solutions like nanoengineered concrete to reduce emissions, Arxx is using a simpler solution — recycled plastic mixed with cement to make insulating, modular building blocks. They’re like giant Legos that let you build an energy-efficient home in a snap.
Across the board, green building startups are emerging to capitalize on the opportunity to reduce the massive emissions caused by construction. Products like Serious Materials’ eco drywall, Hycretes’ greener concrete, and XtremeHomes’ prefab homes are hitting the market to capture part of the growing green business trend.
The government is paying attention but not yet coming through. Lobbyists pushed for tax incentives for energy-efficient homes in the stimulus package this week, to no avail. However, as the government looks for ways to simultaneously reduce the need to build new power plants and promote home construction, tax breaks for homeowners and contractors to build and upgrade greener homes will likely come up again on Capitol Hill.
Improving the energy efficiency of America’s homes is the low-hanging fruit in greening the U.S. Arxx says that their designs can be used to build homes that are 50 percent more energy efficient than regular homes, saving homeowners serious money on heating and cooling costs. The Alliance to Save Energy estimates the average homeowner will pay $2,200 in home energy costs this year. Concrete manufacturing in particular is an incredibly dirty business, accounting for between 7 percent and 8 percent of the global CO2 emissions annually.
Arxx says it will use the new capital to grow their business, strengthen their relations with contractors and boost production of their green building systems. As cities and suburbs grow all over the world, the need for more energy-efficient building materials and systems will become huge. The EU just added “construction” as a sector subject to their emissions trading scheme. Carbon costs, in addition to good schools, will be a serious consideration of homebuilders and home buyers alike.