Welcome to this episode of Hardware to Save a Planet. Today, Dylan is joined by Chris Anderson, CEO of Vantem, a company that delivers cost-effective, climate-resilient, energy-efficient homes at scale. Chris is based in Greensboro, North Carolina, in America. 

Join them as they discuss how Vantem’s proprietary panel technology simplifies construction and improves energy efficiency. They delve into the importance of affordable housing and how Vantem’s approach reduces costs. The conversation also touches on the magnitude of the housing shortage and the role of innovative companies in addressing climate change.

About Chris

If there’s anyone who knows the ins and outs of sustainable construction, it’s Chris Anderson. He is the Founder and CEO of Vantem and heads the team that developed the Vantem System and pioneered its implementation. Before Vantem, Chris was the Founder and CEO of Simex, a company focused on sustainable timber harvesting, which he grew to 1,600 employees operating in six countries.

Housing carbon footprints

At least 20% of our greenhouse gas emissions are from home energy use. Then there’s also the emissions associated with the materials and construction of new homes. But homes can also be an important tool in improving our resilience to climate change. Vantem makes energy-efficient, climate-resilient, and cost-effective homes at scale. Join us as Chris Anderson sheds light on the interplay between home construction and climate change.

Want to learn more?

Check out the key takeaways of this episode below. Better still, listen to the podcast!

Key takeaways

  • 06:05 – 08:03 – The genesis of energy-efficient and affordable housing: Chris explains that it was clear even 15 years ago that the construction industry was a major contributor to climate change and CO2 emissions. Additionally, the construction industry follows archaic and complex processes and uses multiple components like timber, steel, bricks, and mortar. As a result, the process is highly inefficient and expensive and negatively impacts our environment. Hence, the focus became building a company that provides affordable, energy-efficient, and sustainable housing.
  • 08:04 – 11:22 – proprietary structural insulated panels at the heart of the solution: The solution needed to be scalable on a global scale, hence, Chris decided to use structural insulated panels where the outer and inner walls were made of ceramic instead of plywood. A complete house could be assembled using these panels. The requirement for reinforcement was also significantly reduced and the panels were fully insulated for better energy efficiency. The company has pivoted its business model from making panels and constructing on-site to shipping fully built homes. This simplifies the home-building process, making it cost-effective and environmentally sustainable.
  • 21:26 – 23:48 – Addressing the crisis of affordable housing: There is a crisis of affordable housing due to two primary reasons. The first is a need for more political will to change zoning laws, and the second is the low productivity and high cost associated with the construction industry. Chris mentions that we are still following a construction process that is over 200 years old and, over time, the cost of material and labor has risen sharply. Labor is expensive and has low productivity as the construction workers move from site to site. The industry is also associated with high wastage, and all these factors contribute to the crisis. The use of structurally insulated panels and full construction in the factory helps in cutting costs.

Episode resources