Concept: Luxembourg’s construction-tech startup Leko Labs has developed sustainable wood-based building materials as an alternative to steel and concrete for reducing the carbon emissions due to construction. The carbon-negative construction startup claims the new material can replace up to 75% of concrete and steel currently used in constructing a single building.
Nature of Disruption: The new wall and floor system is based solely on wood and wood fiber and can withstand high compression loads of multi-storied urban construction. Leko Labs claims that the new material is developed using a combination of proprietary engineered timber and inbuilt insulation and offers high strength, thermal, and acoustic properties. The material is also very thin which helps to save up to 10% more floor space versus traditionally constructed buildings. The startup claims that the new material can be used for the construction of buildings with a height of 100 meters and enable buildings to remain carbon neutral over their entire lifetime. It also claims to speed up the construction process and claims to complete a project in six to nine months as compared to a traditional construction project that can take up to 24 months for completion. Leko Labs also offers a software platform that helps to automate and optimize the building design process. The proprietary algorithms enable automating several crucial phases of the design process which can help to save time, limit errors, increase productivity, and reduce the need for wood.
Outlook: According to World Green Building Council, in 2017, building and construction activities together accounted for 39% of energy-related CO2 emissions when upstream power generation is included. Construction companies are investing in developing new technologies and materials to shrink their carbon footprint. Leko Labs claims that the new wood-based building materials help to reduce the carbon emissions during the production of building materials as well as during the construction of the buildings. The startup claims that its timber construction system is the world’s first timber construction system that combines both structural and insulation performance for acoustic, thermal, and static properties. In February 2022, Leko Labs raised $21M in a Series A funding round led by urban sustainability-focused fund 2150. The startup aims to use the funding to expand its software and robotic construction system across Europe, including Germany, the Nordic countries, and the UK.