The construction of a single home leaves a deep environmental footprint, from gathering and transporting raw materials to clearing land and hauling unused ones to the landfill. It’s hardly surprising that the construction and building industries generate about 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions each year, according to a report from Architecture 2030.
The impact doesn’t end there. According to data cited by Aro Homes, once the average home has been built and occupied, it emits more than 10 tons of CO2 every year. The California startup plans to do something about it.
Aro designs and builds carbon-negative and sustainable single-family homes with an eye on innovative techniques that drastically lower the environmental impact of new houses. They will be designed to have net-zero energy use, cut water use by half, and greatly reduce construction time.
The company’s business model will be to buy old, rundown, and inefficient homes and replace them with new structures with minimal environmental impact.
The houses are designed to use 50% less energy than traditional ones, save 6,000 gallons of water a year, and save 11.2 tons of CO2 annually.
Aro also aims to achieve the highest green certifications possible, including those that meet Passive House, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum, and Living Building Challenge standards.
“As we looked at residential construction, we quickly saw how inefficient and environmentally backward the single-family residential construction space is,” said Carl Gish, Aro co-CEO. “It has gotten much better in commercial and even multifamily, but in the single-family residential space, which is so huge, it really hasn’t changed much in decades.”
Aro publicly launched on Nov. 3, 2022, with $21 million in funding. The startup was incubated by Innovation Endeavors, a Palo Alto, CA-based venture capital firm co-founded by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Western Technology Investment and Stanford University also participated in the incubation.
One of Aro’s missions is to address the lack of innovation in U.S. homebuilding, which it calls “inefficient, slow, and costly.” The company estimates that 40% of labor and materials are wasted, while raw materials costs are “unnecessarily elevated.”
“Challenges across the housing market continue to mount, and we are driven to meet this crisis with the urgency it requires,” Gish said. “Residential housing contributes 23% of global carbon emissions, and we believe it’s past time we apply technology and design to make homes more sustainable and livable.”
His company plans to cut the homebuilding process from 18 months to 90 days. It will use advanced technologies to assess local zoning requirements and sustainability and livability goals.
Machine learning and software will help identify properties where it can build, looking for factors impacting energy use, including how much sunlight hits a property and whether it has shade trees.
Once a home is built, it will continue to operate sustainably due to features like electric heat pumps and fireplaces, high-efficiency appliances, and low-voltage LED lights. Solar panels and batteries will provide more energy than the homes can use, meaning some of that energy can be sent back to the grid. The houses will also be able to reclaim water from pipes for reuse.
“Though housing has needed to be revolutionized for some time, few companies have met the challenge with the ambition and clarity of vision as the Aro team,” said Scott Brady, managing partner at Innovation Endeavors. “Aro has unlocked a huge advantage by using a multidisciplinary approach and reimagining how homes are designed and built; they are raising the bar for what we should expect from a sustainability and design perspective.”