Nexii Building Solutions Inc. (Nexii) made massive headlines last month when it announced a partnership with actor and Pittsburgh native Michael Keaton to build its next manufacturing plant in the Pittsburgh region.
We welcome Craig Rippole of Trinity Commercial Development, to discuss how this will be the sixth plant -- the second in the United States -- for the fast-growing green construction technology company.
Trinity Sustainable Solutions, a new entity composed of Keaton, Nexii and Rippole will develop the new plant slated to open in Summer 2022. Join us for more of the latest details and timelines for this transformative project. And, discover potential business opportunities and what the new plant means for our entire region!
Good afternoon, everyone. This is Audrey Russo, President CEO, the Pittsburgh Technology Council. And I'm thrilled to be here as I am each and every day since the onset of COVID, over 15 months ago, and today is no different than a great guest. I'm very excited to jump in with Craig ripple. And I'm going to formally introduce him in a moment. So let's just get some housekeeping out of the way, and extend some appreciation for those who have helped us along the way. First of all, Jonathan Kersting is with with us each and every day. He's vice president of all things marketing, and media for the tech Council. And he's going to keep his eyes on the chat. And make sure that if there are questions that we want to lob over to Craig, we do that. The other thing is thanks to Huntington bank for them, believing in us and every experiment that we run in town in terms of telling stories, in reaching out to the community, and in just making sure that we are tethered and building the future for tomorrow. And Huntington bank has been tremendous partner with us each and every day since the onset, as well as doing other things with us. So if you don't know them, get to know them. They are a terrific partner, and then 40 by 80. That's the longitude and latitude of Pittsburgh, and it is the wholly owned subsidiary of the tech Council. And that is our charitable arm. And that's where we do a lot of work in terms of education, entrepreneurship, as well as soon to be an apprenticeship program. So we're really excited about that. So stay tuned, it's a site, you can go to 40 by 80. And you'll find it.org. So I said we've muted your microphones. If I didn't say that. I'm saying it. Now we've muted your microphone so that we can be considerate of our guests. And also, this is not an opportunity to sell your wares. This is just an opportunity for us to just get immersed in our guests. That's it. Our guest is Chris Craig ripple. I hope I'm saying that correctly. Craig, I know that we got on pretty quickly. And you are the president of the Trinity group, right? And you're going to talk about that. First of all, what I like to do is not only just say, Hey, welcome, but I want to know who is Craig and how is Craig been doing? And you know, what's Greg's ties to Pittsburgh? So welcome. And thank you for taking the time with us now. Thank
you for having me. I'm sorry about that. We had some technological issues today, hard to believe. So we're talking with the right group. But thank you, Audrey. appreciate you having me. My name's, as you said, my name is Craig ripple. I'm the president of Trinity commercial development, and Trinity's been developing and redeveloping properties. In Western Pennsylvania for the last 25 years, we've developed over 1.5 million square feet of space. And we've enjoyed preferred developer relationships with a number of national retailers. And while we're a full service, commercial real estate firm, our roots run deep in the construction industry. My grandfather and his brothers that were Paulie brothers, we changed our last name. started back in 1954, doing commercial work, they had been doing more residential work back then they actually built u ends a village, which is, which is in Allegheny County Housing Authority community in mckees rocks. And so I like to talk a little bit about more about the methods that they used then and some of those that are still being deployed now and and talk about the contrast or the lack of evolution, the construction. So we're more more recently known for our revitalization efforts in mckees rocks and specifically redeveloping 105 acre the 105 acre former Pinelli railroad repair and maintenance facility there. And well maybe a bit uncommon for a retail developer to be focused on a brownfield. We were able to kind of leverage our unique perspective to generate synergies much like you'd see in a in a commercial shopping district. We're all boats kind of rise, to help to bring private investment into an under invested community to develop strategic partnerships with private corporations to work to form public private partnerships to bring bridge the gap on financing and ultimately generate benefits for the good of all and for the good of all. I specifically mean, the municipality as a result of our our redevelopment activities, they were able to broaden the tax base and improve their s&p credit rating from triple B to a stable so which is great for community like mckees rocks, which I'm from
So you took the business over from your family from the brothers,
it evolved. We're not general contractors at this point. It was it was my It was my grandfather, but um, it started. But I'm proud to say that I got to work with the family in the summers as a laborer, again, using some of the same techniques and tools that my father before him and my grandfather used. And I wish the slides will work because I'd show you a great picture of everybody up on the scaffolding, but we could do that another day. But what's kind of been interesting about the experience of the Brownfield is because it ties back to Michael Keaton was specifically that when you have redevelop a brownfield you can expect to run into contaminated soils, just by the nature, that's what you're going to run into. And to take those off site to a landfill, a special landfill, you can expect to clear to generate a lot of debris and put a lot of that debris into dumpsters, which would go to a landfill. When you clear and grub 105 acre site that's been vacant and blighted for 30 years. And you can expect that, you know, when you have these antiquated dilapidated buildings on 105 acre industrial complex that you're going to demo those masonry buildings and their concrete footers and foundations, you're going to try to recycle what you can to leave on site is fill but then you're going to put those in dumpsters and take those off to a landfill. What I didn't realize is the the amount of construction debris that was going into our landfills. I also didn't realize the amount of carbon emissions that was that were being generated by by building in construction. And when I learned that, thanks to nexi, I realized that I want to build better. And I want to be part of the solution. And that's when I discovered that next he was that solution. And the way that we were going to deliver that solution to the market was through this partnership called Trinity sustainable solutions, which would be a partnership with Michael Keaton nexi Trinity commercial development, and then the Pittsburgh region. And they're they're a key piece to all this because when you see what such a large percentage of global emissions come from building and construction industry, you realize that it's going to take a lot of partners to move the meter, move the needle on admissions. So it was important to work with the PRA, and we had a prior relationship with them. And we start with them about nine months ago. And they've been involved every step of the way, including last Monday when Michael was in town. Right? We were looking at sites so that that's kind of the whole evolution, and of how we got to where we are now.
So that's great. So So did you have a relationship with Michael on this whole idea? Because I know he's into sustainability. And he's pretty passionate about climate change and emissions. So
yeah, interesting. So I did not have a direct relationship with him. I was aware that he was a Pittsburgh and he was passionate about Pittsburgh, I knew that he was a self proclaimed unabashed environmentalist, right about the environment. I knew he wanted to create jobs in the city and he had come back a lot was a great representative of our town. And I thought I also knew that his, his, his, his mother grew up a stone's throw from that Brownfield in mckees rocks that we were talking about. And when that ultimately became my kind of aha moment about Wow, this is the impact that boating instructions are having on on global emissions in the environment. And I felt like because his mother grew up there and he was he had been there, he could remember the Brownfield back in back in its heyday, when it was the epicenter of mckees rocks and everybody worked there, and everybody walked to work and everybody shopped there. You know, the old mill town, just like a lot of towns, pepper along the Ohio River and up demand. And so we got in contact with him through a mutual friend and out in Los Angeles. And he came to town we, we discussed the site, he remembered it vividly. And it worked. He understood that he got to learn a little bit more about the impact was having and he wanted to be part of the solution. So he's been a great, absolute great Aaron's really leaned in, he's toward sites been back twice. He's now filming in in London, but he's going to be an active participant in this and it's gonna take it's important because you know how, with my background, I know and most people know this like, like anybody involved in technology changes hard. You know, we've used the same construction methods for a lot of years. And the technology hasn't evolved in construction like it has other places. So that unique platform that he has to help facilitate change management is very important and just to show you how it works My 74 year old mother in Stowe Township, called me after seeing some of the media and she wanted to know about our carbon footprint. So the fact that she's asking me those questions, it's telling me that Michaels driving it down to Reagan and the working woman in Pittsburgh, and quite frankly, I learned a lot in the process. And I'm in business. So I'm sure a lot of people are realizing, if you want to move the needle on carbon emissions, you got to start with voting in in, in construction industry.
Well, so people probably don't even understand I mean, how much concrete and cement is an exciting topic, right. But we let's me I think it is there's going to, can we take some time to talk about concrete and what it really takes to and why that's such a challenge. I mean, our long term and short term effort, I mean, how much energy you know, what's the impact, you know, Bill Gates, even his newest book, how to prevent a climate disaster, he talks about accounting for about 6% of the world's annual carbon emissions is also one of the hardest areas to offset. So I'd like to hear from you because that's, I guess, that's been your bread and butter in terms of your knowledge. Yeah, you
know, I'm more I gotta be honest, I'm learning I didn't realize the impact that and construction and buildings were having on the industry. And you know, until about nine months ago, I saw the waste, clearly from being a developer, especially in western Pennsylvania, when low spreads redevelopment, you know, when you get out into the suburbs, and maybe there's some green fields that are a little bit different, but I clearly saw the waste. But I will tell you that in that 39% of the world's carbon emissions come from buildings in in construction. So that's a huge area. I can also tell you that I know I think you said Bill Gates reference 6% are what we've our understanding, and our research has pointed to it being close to 8%. Okay, global co2 coming from from concrete and cement. So, you know, obviously, if you want to make a move, to get a big change in the climate, you have to focus in that very high impact area. So, that's one area but also along those lines is sustainability, the waste, I mean, 33 to 50% of the solid waste going to landfill comes from construction. And even if you in the like we did on the Brownfield, we recycle a lot of the footers and foundations recycled, the concrete used to just fill on the site to raise it out of the floodplain. Even with that, that gets down to about 25% of the landfills or, or with construction debris. So the crazy thing about that, too, is that 90% of it is from you know, demolition, the other 10% is from new construction, which almost kind of blows your mind that, hey, new materials are going into it. So we can come back and talk about how next he provides that solution.
I was gonna ask that I was gonna jump into that and talk about next week. And I love the logo behind you, I can see it, I like the place. So yeah, that's where I want to go, I want to go into into nexi and talk about the solutions there. And yeah, can
I just to close that loop just to go back I thought the, the, the cement. So you know, really, it's, it's the it's the Portland type cement that serves as the binder, that's the challenge because of the burning of the limestone. So that's a lot and there's a lot of good solution, a lot of work being done, on on concrete to try to improve it. And we're talking about a solution specifically for vertical construction, replacing conventional construction. And it really lends itself to precast concrete cast in place concrete tilt up concrete, because concrete is such a large contributor to global admissions.
Okay, all right. So then, so now you have Maxi,
Maxi, yeah, so enter nexi Yeah, now enter Maxi. So how I got introduced to them was, you know, obviously, being a developer and in the business, trying to stay up on trends and recognizing the trend where sustainability was going. When we first started to do our due diligence, about this time last year, it was almost too good to be true. I mean, they had performed too and they had a whole library of tests that had been performed on the product. And we did our due diligence and and we were very impressed with the material itself. And again, it's it's a material it's it's a recipe of 15 different ingredients 50% of which of the overall mix is sand. And that that forms a product called next site which is Which is a win win put into a compared to concrete, it's 1/6, the weight of concrete. So that lack of it, but it is as strong as concrete. And it's better yet it cures much faster than concrete does, which allows you to build sooner. So there is the, when you're talking about nexi, there's the material itself, which is environmentally friendly. It's it's, it's 99%, free of all, red list items, environmentally harmful items. It also is a solution. That building system that is it's different from conventional construction, which reduces waste. And to use an example, the Starbucks, which will show a video and you know, you can drive by any renovation in any residential house, and you'll see a 40 yard construction dumpster on in the yard. And when you look at nexi, they built a Starbucks. And they had one trash bag of waste, and most of it were coffee cups. And that's the difference you get from doing from precision manufacturing, sustainable panels in a factory when they come to the site, they're being assembled. And so there's very little to no waste. And the other piece of that that goes along with that is the speed the bill, it typically would take about 120 days to build a Starbucks, it took six days to build the Starbucks, green or Starbucks, because you're manufacturing the panels, again, precision manufacturing these panels in a plant, and you're doing it concurrently with the site work. So while the site works being done, you're manufacturing the panels. So by the time you get on site, you're literally assembling them, bolting them together with a three quarter inch socket set, create an airtight vacuum, and, and you're off and running. So there's the benefits of you know, we know right now that there's a skilled labor shortage, unfortunately, out there, there and construction is booming, thanks a lot, in part to the interest rates and a lot of the activity, a lot of the incentives at the federal level. So you know, we don't want to miss out on those opportunities to help, you know, recovering this economy because we don't have the labor which this solves that business problem. The skilled labor enough to do it, plus lumber prices are up 60%. So you know, having an alternative that the conventional construction, like the next few panels, that in itself provides an alternative and will also help to keep prices in check. And lastly, I think just from a practical standpoint, if you're talking about a retailer, being able to open for months sooner, you know, you obviously can start generating revenues at that point. So it really checks a lot of box from justice sustainability stamp calling from a business problem standpoint. And what I like about it, you know, our bread and butter being developers is thinking about how it gives corporations the ability to drive down their sustainability goals down to the bricks and mortars are ultimately it's the it's the area that can make the most impact. So that since that's where 39% of the world's carbon emissions are coming from. So I think it really, it's really appealing for a lot of reasons. And like I said, I want to be part of that solution. And NEC sees that solution
to you want to show us something. Is there a video that you want to show us in terms? Yeah,
yes. Yeah, this is the this is the Starbucks screener store in Canada. And again, this is six days you'll see it was materials coming in flat pack, like you'd see coming from IKEA to reduce the volume, but I'll let you run the video. If
Okay, we can start at then Taylor Wow, that's that's pretty crazy, right? Pretty impressive thoughts what that's very impressive. So tell us what so what is in actually each of these walls with each of these pieces?
Yeah, that's an interesting. So it's a whole system and conventional construction, you're going to do the framing, insulation vapor barrier wall sheathing on the outside, maybe some kind of finished like a hardy party, finish your brick, and then drywall on the inside, what next he is, is that entire panel isn't and they again, precision manufactured in a in a plant brought on site, tilt it up and then connected at the top source corner blocks at the top that the connection where the connection occurs and creates an airtight seal. So that panel itself, the standard 10 inch panel is going to be an R 36 value of installation. So it's highly insulated. But it's that sealed, it's created also that allows for the mechanical systems to regulate the air. So you get a higher better quality air. As well as it's more it's managed by the CHP system C system. So it can serve as a floor, it can serve as the roof. And it also serves as the panel. So it's an entire system. So there's the next new material. And I have a little cut off this might help to show you if you can see it.
Yeah, this would be the cut
out of of the section of wall of Sony four inches. But this would be the exterior, the interior, depending on if it's a high performance panel, which would get attached to steel, it would be similar to this with the GPS, which is the installation type two, and then the interior next side panel, which would replace the drywall. So again, you can finish it with there's there's 200 different finishes, they get molded in colored here's another type of finish that you can see to that has more of a woodgrain look, hey, by again. So it's the whole system that we're going to be a structural panel, you would have steel reinforcement inside. And that would allow you to go up to four stories. So again, they're they're two different it's a system, it's a material. And again, it reduces the unbox that Starbucks video that said 30% reduction in carbon emissions, and do our lifecycle study, it's close to 43% with 20% of that, being from the embodied carbons, and a majority coming from the operating carbons, which which deal primarily with the heating and cooling of the building. So there's this, this long term savings on energy usage usage as well.
So Jonathan, there's a couple of questions out there that we want to grab one, I was gonna ask you just about residential. But what let Jonathan
grab some of them. Love to great to have you on the show today, Craig, love the conversation going on here. So many yard? What's new has nixie partner with local Pittsburgh company module? It seems like a really cool question. I'm pretty sure where what they're up to.
Now, but you know, I've heard the name a couple times now and what they're doing, I'd love to chat with them. Like I said, it's a big umbrella. And there's a lot of good work to do. And I think when you find out the industry is huge. This opportunity, especially with the retrofit. So but we do we want to partner with as many people that make sense to help kind of move the needle. And just so you know, Nexus folks are continuing to partner to try to make smarter buildings. And just Just so you know, that, like for example, they've, I can't tell the names. But to try to integrate mechanical systems, things like integrating conduit and duck work directly into those panels. So it's even easier to connect all those things, but the CEO and mentioned that, you know, we went through the industrial revolution that that technology revolution, it's continues to be ongoing. And now we're going through this building revolution. And if you think about it, going back to the methods we use for construction, he compared it to a Tesla, there's more technology in a Tesla than there's there isn't a million dollar home. And you start to wonder why is that? And so we do see that there's a lot of people a lot of different individual initiatives that can be integrated into the system to work together. But there are different verticals in residential is one vertical that we're exploring, because the product is very fire resistant, natural, disaster resistant, water resistant, mold resistant. There's no biodegradable materials. So It's free of insects that can be, you know, aired out and dried. So it fits very well in areas where there are floods, hurricanes fires, and it really appeals well to affordable housing as well because of its resilience. Excellent. So
you answered a bunch of questions with your response. There's a you're very efficient, like you're building products. I like that. What are some of the major challenges you foresee for companies such as nexi, to continue bringing sustainable construction to the marketplace? Is that labor shortages, regulatory hurdles?
Well, I think what's interesting is it I Well, obviously, the pandemics making it difficult working with a Canadian company to bring the technology here, but we're working through it Hazleton, Pennsylvania, is leading the way with the first plant, we're so blessed, and Pennsylvania have to kind of sustainable leadership, especially even in our region. I mean, there's no doubt about it. Pittsburgh is a leader in innovation. It's a leader in sustainability, thought leader, it's got that manufacturing heritage. So we're blessed with that. But I do think change management is a big issue. And just getting people to do something differently. I mean, people were busy, it's a profitable industry. So we're looking really for those more early adopters, to come on to do a proof of concept. And we see the kind of thought leaders with the 35 colleges and universities and some of the foundations and not for profits, and some of the corporate corporations to be NBN. Kind of first a market on this on this initiative. Excellent. I
mean, one last question here from Dan Griffith wants to know is is usable for road indoor parking structure? parking structure?
Yeah, I mean, it depend on, like I said, it can be structural, and we continue to, to work with r&d to kind of allow buildings to be built more than four storeys right now. And that's the structural panel. But clearly, if you use it as a high performance envelope, the supports going to be coming from the steel, so it can be attached to that. And that can go as high as you can't, but it does, it seems to be gaining traction and with sound stages, because if it's soundproof Enos right, and it would seem to be applicable on highways for for visual barriers as well sound barriers along the highways. So we see a potential application with that as well.
So I was gonna say, what's next? That was gonna be a pun.
I get it, which is with Maxine. Yeah.
So here, how can we stay connected to you in this work? There's so many people that have innovations, care about the care about the issues that you've articulated? Have lots of ideas, lots of innovation is going on here? How can we at the tech community stay connected?
Yeah, well, I think the first thing we have to get out there is its cost competitive. So it's going to be right in line with with conventional construction. And I think you're going to see it being pulled in the market. Because if you look right now at precast, concrete, there is a lead a nine to 12 month lead time on that because a lot of the big players in the market are are absorbing all that. So I think it's going to be out of necessity. But I think in general, the first thing that we could do is create an awareness of what construct how conventional construction is impacting the environment. And then once you understand that you can start to find these solutions like nexi to do that. But I would, I would continue to, you know, we're on a development cycle between 12 and 18 months to be up and running. We want to build the greenest manufacturing plant in North America. We're going to build it with the nexi system, the panels coming out of Hazleton,
And we are looking for partners. Like I said, we had had a great conversation with the mayor of the county executive, Dennis Dugan with DCD foundation community about Hazelwood green, being a potential site. And again, we're still evaluating options, and even Carnegie Mellon. And I think what happened from having the CEO of the company here, and him really understanding the Pittsburgh value proposition which is about collaboration, innovation and cooperation. He's now said what went from 100,000 square foot plant to maybe 150 to 250,000 square foot plant and being a center of excellence focusing on on on the retrofit market, since it's so large, but also being a manufacturing center of excellence for all Nexus plants, and working working in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University and the robotics and advanced manufacturing to integrate these these continuous process improvements into the overall production process.
So Craig, what we'd love to do first of all, we've taken a half hour out of your day, I can't appreciate, you know, extend my appreciation enough for the time and for your work in your leadership and commitment back to your own roots, which is, you know, quite quite noteworthy. What I would love is if there's a chance that maybe you could connect with and meet some of the people who are working on some of these innovations, because they are, you know, the percolated all throughout the ecosystem. And I know people are excited by this. And any way that we can make sure that we're additive to your work people will want to do. So I love the cooperation.
I'd also like to come back and do a deeper dive that gets more technical. Yeah, for some of these questions that really show you how the system comes together.
got people want that. I'm getting some notes on that. And you
know what, you know, we got the batphone with Michael, and you can call called 20 sustainable solutions. LLC. Check us out. We'd love to do a follow up call to talk more. Great.
That'd be great. Well, thank you, Craig. Thanks for taking the time with us. Thanks, everyone. Today's Wednesday, I have to say that out loud. Reminds me. You know what day to day is? It's not like Thursday. So thank you for taking the time. Thank you for your leadership on this work. Really appreciate it. It What's up, Jonathan, anything
is Thursday, which is gonna be very soon. My favorite? Absolutely. We have pa representative Wendy Thomas stopping by sees me detailing the investors startup tax credit tomorrow. So trying to shake more trees to get more money to startups hands. So let's see what happens.
That's good secret. That's what we work on all different things so that we're making sure that this is an amazing place for tech and innovation to build and grow their business.
Well, it's working because that's what nexi realized when they came here.
So yeah, good now. It's great. We'll stay connected to you. Thank you so much for being with us. Thank you, everyone. Enjoy the rest of your day.
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