Investing in Nabr to solve housing’s double sustainability crisis

2150 leads $48M funding round for Nabr in a bid to bring sustainable and affordable home ownership to urban communities at scale.

By Jacob Bro and Nicole LeBlanc

The golden age of prefabricated construction is already in the past. For all the recent buzz about tech startups finally bringing construction into the age of industrial manufacturing, the surprising reality is that we did this already.

From 1945 to 1965 the UK built 1.5M prefab homes to meet the post war housing demand. Sweden added 1M prefab homes from 1960 to 1975. Prefab was booming, namely in Europe. Sadly we then stopped (McKinsey & own research).

Since the post war prefabrication boom in Europe, housing has been the standout modern product category that continues to get more expensive while the productivity of its construction is flattening or declining.

We now have a double housing crisis. Not only is housing in short supply and increasingly unaffordable, construction and real estate is also the single biggest contributor to carbon emissions (39%) in the economy. The world desperately needs housing innovation.

That is why we just backed Nabr.

Co-founded by Bjarke Ingels (founder of architectural firm BIG Group), Roni Bahar (formerly of WeWork) and Nick Chim (co-founder of Flux, a spinout of Google[x]) and surrounded by an impressive team with deep experience from both the building industry and tech companies like Tesla and Google, Nabr is truly an all star team of built world entrepreneurs and techies with operator scar tissue and world leading sustainable Scandinavian architecture baked into its foundation.

The Nabr co-founders, from left: Bjarke Ingels, Nick Chim, and Roni Bahar

Nabr only just unveiled to the public in December 2021 but its first building, SoFA One in downtown San Jose, CA, that will consist of 140 units, is already under way and the company currently has nearly 4,000 people on its Silicon Valley waitlist.

Nabr is reimagining how we design, build, and finance urban homes aligned with the customer, the environment, and the broader stakeholders in the communities it hopes to transform.

Source: Nabr

With two more neighbouring sites in downtown San Jose lined up, Nabr is poised to play a major role in the exciting and long overdue development of this last frontier of urban development in Silicon Valley where the city and major stakeholders like San Jose State University are doubling down on sustainability and social inclusion as key success metrics.

Unlike most recent modular prefab and housing startups who have built heavy vertically integrated operations and sometimes even keep real estate on the balance sheet, Nabr is keeping things asset light and focuses its innovation on product design, customer experience, deep decarbonisation, and the critical supply chain. Nabr not only designs amazing product typologies which the customer can mass customise and buy directly online while 3D BIM models and project plans update seamlessly and in real time behind the scenes. Nabr has also designed its building system for distributed manufacturability using low carbon materials.

Nabr’s software platform solves the critical supply chain orchestration that allows the company to tap into industrial scale manufacturing by industry leaders who already do this really well across mass timber (CLT), smart windows, IoT components, modular facades, home interiors, and kitchen and bathroom pods.

Interior view from SoFa One

What also makes Nabr’s mission incredibly exciting for us at 2150, is that the company intends to accelerate the reversal of America’s carbon intense suburban sprawl that has defined U.S. new housing for the last half-century. Building more sustainably is not just about low embodied carbon footprint from novel materials and design innovation plus high energy efficiency of building operations, both core metrics for Nabr. Suburban sprawl and the gas guzzling commute itself is cancelling the general sustainability benefits of urbanisation stemming from density and access to public transport and feasibility of walking and cycling. Nabr wants to bring America back to the urban centres by making them liveable, not just for young urban professionals but also for families.

Source: http://coolclimate.org/maps

Moreover, Silicon Valley, and many other urban hubs, have run out of space for new single family homes within meaningful price brackets and distances to mass employment which has thrown the world’s 5th largest economy into a spiralling housing as well as employee exodus crisis.

Nabr aims to help solve this double housing challenge of environmental and social sustainability and we believe they have the best team, product, digital platform, and delivery strategy to make it happen.

Nabr is starting in California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, the undoubtedly most difficult place to build anything and meet and exceed environmental standards. If they can make it there, we believe, they can make it anywhere.

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2150 is a venture capital firm investing in technology companies that seek to sustainably reimagine and reshape the urban environment. 2150’s investment thesis focuses on major unsolved problems across what it calls the ‘Urban Stack’, which comprises every element of the built environment, from the way our cities are designed, constructed and powered, to the way people live, work and are cared for. Find out more at www.2150.vc

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2150

2150 is a venture capital firm investing in technology companies that seek to sustainably reimagine and reshape the urban environment.