Assembly OSM does pre-built high-rises like Boeing makes aircraft

Assembly OSM is a modular construction start-up that operates more like a car or aircraft manufacturer than a traditional builder. As a result, it claims it can cut carbon emissions more than the greenest builders in the business today.

Real estate accounts for 40% of global carbon emissions if you include the entire process from construction to operation and inevitable destruction. Reducing the time it takes to construct a building and the number of workers and vehicles needed on site can help reduce these emissions. Unlike other prefab builders, which largely do lower-rises, the assembly focuses on high-rise buildings 10-30 stories tall. This will provide the greatest impact on both the current housing shortage and climate change.

“We actually use space tools to design these buildings. So we design the buildings to a much higher degree of detail,” explained CEO Andrew Stanforth.

The four-year-old company is the same program as Boeing to design and build building blocks in multiple, specialty plants.

“We’re actually looking at the way cars and planes are built, where they really have strong distributed supply chains,” Stanforth said. “Where people in the aerospace industry make the wings, the engines, the fuselage, we have people make the bathroom pods, the kitchen discs, the floors, the walls, the ceilings, and then we assemble them in our facility like this and just strap them together.”

A rendering of a futuristic building by Assembly OSM.

Source: OSM . Assembly

displacemente Assembly reduces the number of fuel-burning trucks needed on site, thus reducing those emissions by 70%, the company claims. The buildings themselves are made lighter and more compact, which reduces subsequent emissions from heating and cooling. Overall, it claims to achieve 30-40% less embodied carbon over the life cycle of the building.

Unlike other modular home builders like Katerra, which filed for bankruptcy last year, Assembly uses a large network of suppliers and manufacturers located in different locations, rather than building at one specific factory.

“While it may seem like just another modular construction company, I think it’s a radical change,” said Matt Higgins, CEO and co-founder of RSE Ventures, one of the company’s investors. “You’re talking about an industry that’s very resistant to change and innovation and dominated by seasoned players. What the team does in assembly is borrowing technology from the aerospace industry to the auto industry, basically, starting almost from scratch. It’s similar to what Tesla did, and what Elon Musk did.”

Assembly costs are the same as conventional construction, but faster. This is what the market is asking for now.

“It’s really about embodied carbon, how buildings function over the lifecycle — a lot of these nice guys are now very quickly turning into needs for developers in major urban markets,” Stanforth said.

The company focuses primarily on apartments and hotels and expects to build its first projects in New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles.

Assembly OSM backers include Fifth Wall Climate, Jefferies Group, Manta Ray Ventures, FG Laboratories, RSE Ventures and Signia Venture Partners. It raised $62 million.

CNBC Climate Producer Lisa Rizzolo contributed to this article.