Berkeley Lab a “Build Back Better” Regional Challenge Finalist

January 12, 2022

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) will join fellow industry leaders in a coalition to bring to market new technologies and products to address the converging crises of housing, economic inequity, supply chain volatility, and climate change in California and the U.S. 

In particular, the team will be working with the construction industry on modernization efforts to deliver affordable and zero-emission solutions at scale and speed.

The coalition, led by partner Alameda County Waste Management Authority (StopWaste), is one of only 60 groups nationwide to be named a finalist in the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge. The Challenge is a key part of the American Rescue Plan, aimed at boosting pandemic-related economic recovery. 

Berkeley Lab scientists will lead on forming testbed innovation centers to develop and improve new construction products and approaches for industrialized construction (IC)  –  including waste-to-feedstock production and concrete alternatives, integrated energy systems, and advanced building construction methods – that will enable zero-emission, climate-resilient, and affordable buildings. 

“We’re very excited to have this opportunity to bring innovations that help improve productivity and sustainability of the construction sector,” said Berkeley Lab project lead Nan Zhou. “While the issues of housing crisis and climate change are highly complex, we will lead R&D and work closely with StopWaste and other coalition members, as well as local governments, trade associations, industry leaders, and community organizations, to ensure the innovations we help to support will be feasible and beneficial for those in need.”

Other coalition partners include the East Bay Economic Development Alliance, UC Berkeley, the City/County of San Francisco, Build It Green, and the Rocky Mountain Institute. The group’s goal is to boost affordable housing production while reducing waste, cutting emissions, and creating new jobs in the construction industry. 

In March 2022, the coalition will submit a proposal to compete for up to $100 million in additional American Rescue Plan funding to scale up successful implementation. 

“If awarded for phase two funding, we will lead an innovation center that houses advanced testing equipment and industrialized construction research, showcases new products and housing systems, and provides education and networking opportunities for students and entrepreneurs,” said Zhou.

Read the full press announcement from the U.S. Economic Development Administration here




Dana D'Amico