Silicon Valley sees a profitable future in the humble brick thanks to a low-energy production process that illustrates the greening of the U.S. technology capital.
Brick maker Calstar Products is heavy on PhDs and backed by venture capitalists whose vision is to create buildings less expensively and in a way that saves energy.
"We think it is time for a second industrial revolution," said Paul Holland, a partner at Foundation Capital, which invested $7 million in Calstar. EnerTech Capital led another round that raised $8 million for the business.
"We and dozens of others are trying to create green alternatives for all the things that happen in the building industry," Holland said.
Currently about 40 percent of U.S. energy use goes toward the heating, cooling and general operation of buildings.
Silicon Valley is finding high-tech ways to make age-old materials, pursuing carbon dioxide-eating concrete, windows that insulate better than walls, and wood substitutes.
The field is still new. Venture investments in green buildings have waxed and waned with the recession, but involved 45 deals worth about $350 million the past year, according to Cleantech Group LLC.
Bricks have been made pretty much the same way for 3,000 years, until Calstar's scientists came up with their new technique, said Chief Executive Michael Kane....MORE