New building-panel plant aims to bring 200 jobs to South Island

A company that makes commercial and industrial buildings out of prefabricated panels said it will build a large manufacturing facility on the South Island within about a year.

Nexii Building Solutions Inc. said Monday it is looking at a number of undisclosed sites for the $50-million plant, which would cover about 150,000 square feet and eventually employ about 200 people.

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The company uses a proprietary material called Nexiite, an alternative to concrete, that is poured into moulds to form energy-efficient walls and other building components. The pieces are delivered to construction sites and bolted for quick assembly, cutting construction costs and timelines.

Nexii has plants in Moose Jaw and Squamish and its finished projects include standalone buildings for A&W, Popeye’s and Starbucks as well as retrofits to other establishments.

Amber Simpson, a Victoria real estate agent who is leading the new Island plant with partner Elizabeth Lui, a lawyer, said in an interview Monday investment and debt financing are in place to start building the facility under the banner Alexzi Building Solutions Inc. The partnership with Nexii includes its operating systems and techniques to produce the panels.

Simpson did not disclose where the manufacturing plant will be built, but said a number of locations have been identified. “We need 11 acres because it is spread out,” she said. “This location will take a lot of pressure off the Squamish plant [where] they have about two years worth of projects in the pipeline.

“We hope to start building in the fall and be up and online at this time next year.”

A Starbucks drive-through outlet in Abbotsford, assembled over six days in 2020, reported a 30% reduction in its carbon footprint with energy savings. The Lego-style building process is catching on as an environmentally friendly construction method, said Simpson.

Vancouver-based Nexii Inc. said the company’s design and assembly process can reduce construction timelines by up to 75%, lower construction costs and eliminate scaffolding. Assembly is less dependent on weather and, with fewer delays, it reduces on-site construction waste. Nexii says its panels are resistant to fire, water, mold and insects.

“The construction sector has a staggering effect on the environment and is just at the brink of a new revolution in green technology,” Stephen Sidwell, CEO of Nexii, said in a statement. “Not only must we consider the construction or retrofitting of a building, but also the environmental costs of ongoing maintenance. Our material technology and building systems are a huge step forward in reducing climate pollution and we are motivated by the opportunity to be a driving force in the green economy.”

Simpson said Nexii is well-suited for most building types, including industrial, ­commercial, institutional, mixed-use, multi-family ­residential, single-family homes, as well as for the growing retrofit market.

She said the material costs are similar to traditional construction materials, but the savings are in the construction time.

The company’s advisory board includes Ronald Sugar, the chairman of Uber and a board director of Apple, as well as AECOM chairman and CEO Michael Burk and business executives Ram Charan and Dennis Carey. Former Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson is executive vice-president of strategy and partnerships.

Once fully operational, the Squamish factory will have about 150 full-time employees.

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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