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Advancing Construction for a Sustainable Future: Insights from RMI's Lucas Toffoli

Welcome to Offsite Dirt, where we delve into the dirt on high-performance building, scientific panelization, green technology, software, and all things related to the construction industry. In today's interview, we have the pleasure of speaking with Lucas Toffoli from Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). Lucas sheds light on the challenges and opportunities in construction, emphasizing the need for industrialized construction and modernization to tackle climate change and the housing shortage. With a focus on the RMI-led Advanced Building Construction Collaborative (ABC Collaborative), Lucas explains the importance of construction methods, streamlined technologies, and an industrialized approach. Let's dive into the conversation with Lucas Toffoli.

The Building Sector's Challenges and Opportunities:

Lucas highlights the pressing challenges faced by the building sector, including climate change, housing shortages, commercial space reevaluation, and the need for building retrofits. He points out that the construction industry has struggled with productivity for decades, resulting in a significant deficit of housing units and delays in commercial construction. Furthermore, the shift to remote work has left many offices empty, necessitating retrofitting of existing building stock. Lucas emphasizes the need for modernized construction methods and an industrialized approach to meet the demand for building retrofits and new housing units while achieving climate goals.

Lucas's Background and Role at RMI:

Lucas shares his journey to RMI, expressing his long-standing awareness of the organization's work in the building sector. He recalls the valuable experience of taking a class with RMI's co-founder, and visiting the RMI Innovation Center in Colorado. His passion for buildings, architecture, and the environment led him to join RMI after working in real estate and pursuing graduate studies. Lucas's diverse work history and personal interests make him a valuable addition to RMI's team.

Understanding the Advanced Building Construction Collaborative (ABC Collaborative):

Lucas explains that the ABC Collaborative serves as a platform for various building sector stakeholders to come together and address the challenges of high-efficiency building decarbonization and industrialized construction. He emphasizes the importance of integrating both aspects, as solely focusing on one could lead to inefficient or incomplete solutions. The ABC Collaborative engages startups, large companies, and stakeholders across the value chain, providing environments for collaboration, research, analysis, thought leadership, and tech scaling support. Their goal is to stimulate projects that implement these solutions at scale in a replicable and systematic manner.

Spotlight on B. Public Prefab and Larger Corporations:

Lucas acknowledges the contributions of companies like B. Public Prefab, which offers a design kit of parts for high-performance buildings. He commends their systematized approach, training programs, and emphasis on empowering local builders. Additionally, Lucas highlights the efforts of larger corporations, such as Owens Corning, that has adapt their business models to meet market needs. These companies are exploring innovative solutions, from panelized products for retrofits to system-based products for high-performance new homes.


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