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In the latest episode of On The Wire, Troy Carter joins our CEO, Barbara Wichmann to discuss the future of sustainable construction.
Carter graduated from Stanford University graduate with a degree in economics and was an early employee at Airbnb and E la cate (now known as Presto). He founded, scaled and successfully excited Troy Cider and has since co-founded RIZOME and
Earth Shot Labs.
RIZOME is made up of a team of individuals dedicated to making bamboo a go-to for construction and reaching a goal of sequestering 10 gigatons of carbon by 2050.
“Basically anywhere that you can build with wood, you can build with bamboo and better,” said Carter. “Bamboo is at least two and a half times stronger than wood in pretty much every metric. It’s fire-resistant and it looks great.”
The company name is a play on the word “rhizome” which is the underground part of the bamboo stem. While bamboo is already a common material in some elements of construction, like flooring, but Carter and his colleagues believe it should be used more.
“It’s a much better solution to have rapidly renewable bamboo,” Carter said. “The product we’re making is a turnkey replacement for pretty much every construction material you can think of.”
When it comes to reducing carbon, there are options such as decarbonized concrete and decarbonized steel, but they are less “turnkey.” The mass growth and processing of bamboo is something that’s never been achieved before, but RIZOME has managed to build a supply line and scale its operations. Shipments of bamboo construction materials are being sent to customers in the United States and Southeast Asia.
“It’s still a small production, it’s still early,” said Carter. “We’ve only been operational since early 2020 and we’ll be expanding about 10 times in the next six months.”
Institutional and large angel investors have traditionally supported RIZOME, but Carter realized there was an opportunity to involve smaller investors and individuals as well. The company kicked off a crowdfunding campaign this week that will continue for the next month. He said they’ve already had $600,000 of their $1 million goal committed.
If you want to “support this project, make a lot of money over the long-term, help decarbonize the built environment, help support indigenous land rights throughout Southeast Asia, South Asia, Latin America, Sub Saharan Africa – that’s what you’ll be supporting,” Carter said.
His other project, Earth Shot Labs, is an open-source community of data scientists, investors, designers and other climate entrepreneurs who are collaborating on a number of nature-based climate solutions. The company started in November and has a community of about 500 members.
“We’ve got 45 or 50 strong, active contributors who are pushing code on GitHub and doing really cutting-edge work,” said Carter, but plenty of others are contributing to the conversation.
If you’re a designer, a scientist, a developer or just someone who is interested in making a difference, you’re invited to the Earth Shot Labs movement, he said. The company’s Slack channel is always open to new members.
For those experienced in the issue, there’s plenty of projects to get involved in including a soil carbon project and a hydrological modeling project, as well as app development. One team is working on a model to algorithmically scale permaculture solutions, he said. Those who are new to this have the support of hundreds of mentors who want to help them learn the ins and outs of sustainability.
“The level of teamwork, passion, and collaboration among companies who would traditionally be considered competitors is just something I’ve never seen before,”
Said Carter. “It is such a relief to feel a deeply collaborative and unified spirit in addressing these challenges.”
Carter has a lot more to say about how we should address sustainability and reflect on our business practices – and our individual ones. Listen to On The Wire above to get the rest of his thoughts. To learn more about Earthshot Labs, visit their website or join the company’s Slack channel. More information about RIZOME can be found here and for those who’d like to contribute, the crowdfunding campaign is open.
More episodes of On The Wire are available on our website. You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud and other major podcast platforms. Do you know someone who’d make a great guest? We’d love to hear from you! Please email email@example.com.
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