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Healthy Buildings Challenge Startups Announce Pilot Projects, Demonstration, and More with Saint-Gobain

This spring, we wrapped up the Greentown Go Healthy Buildings Challenge—a startup-corporate partnerships accelerator with Saint-Gobain and supported by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC)—which advanced building technologies that promote the health of both people and the planet. 

The program focused on building materials, coatings, and envelope systems, as well as digital platforms, monitoring, and supplemental technologies. From a pool of nearly 100 applicants, five startups were selected by a panel of subject-matter experts from Saint-Gobain. Over the course of six months, the participating startups—AeroShield, Alkemy Environmental, Enerbrain, InventWood, and Zero—worked with the program partners to receive extensive mentoring, business training, and access to resources to advance their technological and commercial development, working toward mutually agreed on goals in cooperation with Saint-Gobain and MassCEC. A group of experienced startup mentors as well as industry experts from Saint-Gobain allowed for a productive and successful accelerator program.

At the program’s Final Showcase, the cohort presented their progress, work with the program partners, and plans for the future. We were also honored to have Judy Chang, Undersecretary of Energy and Climate Solutions for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, join us as a keynote speaker.

Read more about the participants’ progress below, and check out a recording of the Final Showcase here!

AeroShield

Technology at a glance: AeroShield, based in Boston, MA, develops super-insulating, transparent inserts for windows, bringing state-of-the-art thermal comfort and energy savings into buildings at an affordable price.

Progress during the Healthy Buildings Challenge: With the help of Saint-Gobain, AeroShield conducted a chemical safety and pricing review and identified high-value applications, including window retrofits and mobility.

“This kind of collaboration and support really means so much to our team,” said AeroShield CEO Elise Strobach.

What’s next for them: AeroShield has identified next steps for its R&D to enable adoption into Saint-Gobain product lines.

Alkemy Environmental

Technology at a glance: Alkemy Environmental, based in Somerville, MA, recycles industrial waste streams into structural-grade, lightweight concrete aggregates.

Progress during the Healthy Buildings Challenge: Throughout the Healthy Buildings Challenge, Alkemy gained in-depth market insight, lined up pilot projects with Saint-Gobain’s CertainTeed and Weber business units (focused on building materials and mortar-based solutions, respectively), and launched discussions with Saint-Gobain’s Leca (focused on expanded clay aggregate) to explore opportunities to retrofit its plants using Alkemy’s technology. 

“We showed that Alkemy can provide Saint-Gobain with a lightweight aggregate product that offers the same performance as what they’re currently using, costs less, and is 100 percent environmentally sustainable,” said the startup’s CEO Peter Kombouras.

What’s next for them: In addition to the CertainTeed and Weber pilot projects, Alkemy will be testing and developing products using waste from Saint-Gobain facilities. Alkemy will also support pilot initiatives lined up with other major industrial companies.

Enerbrain

Technology at a glance: Enerbrain, based in Torino, Italy, develops a plug-and-play IoT solution ready for the market that monitors and controls heating, cooling, and ventilation systems in buildings to make them smarter, healthier, and more sustainable, utilizing AI and IoT technologies.

Progress during the Healthy Buildings Challenge: Enerbrain deployed its sensors in Saint-Gobain’s North American Headquarters in Malvern, PA.

What’s next for them: Enerbrain will prepare to open a U.S. branch, customizing and certifying its solution for the U.S. market and getting first projects in the country started.

“I really have to thank the Saint-Gobain team and all the people we worked with at Greentown Labs, because they helped us develop a full business plan to enter the U.S. market,” said Filippo Ferraris, Enerbrain’s international sales director.

InventWood

Technology at a glance: InventWood, based in College Park, MD, has created advanced wood materials that are stronger than steel, highly insulative, and can even be transparent. Read more about its technology here.

Progress during the Healthy Buildings Challenge: InventWood worked with Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed to select an application for its MettleWood technology; began initial technical validations; and started quantifying and optimizing the environmental impact of creating MettleWood.

What’s next for them: InventWood will collaborate with Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed to commercialize a MettleWood cladding product. 

“This has been the opportunity of a lifetime to work with Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed to commercialize MettleWood in a real-world application,” said Josh Cable, CEO of InventWood.

Zero

Technology at a glance: Zero, based in Cambridge, MA, is developing an automated assessment, design, and procurement platform for residential electrification retrofits. Read more about its technology here.

Progress during the Healthy Buildings Challenge: Zero has secured a demonstration with Saint-Gobain’s CertainTeed, which will launch later this year. 

“We’re working with CertainTeed to provide fully scoped jobs directly to credentialed contractors in CertainTeed’s network,”  Zero CEO Grant Gunnison said. “This is critical, because as we make electrification solutions more accessible to homeowners, we need to be able to deliver these services—and working with manufacturers like CertainTeed will be able to make that happen—with scale.”
What’s next for them: In addition to the demonstration with CertainTeed, Zero will be kicking off two pilots this spring, one of which is with MassCEC and its Decarbonization Pathways program.