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Commercial Real Estate

Arlan Collins Talks Sustainable Housing Solutions With Robin Bolz

Arlan Collins, Co-Founder and CEO of Sustainable Living Innovations, talks to Robin Bolz, Head of Commercial Real Estate Strategy, about how his company is tackling the affordable housing crisis.


The latest video in our Changemakers You Should Know series features Arlan Collins, Co-Founder and CEO of Sustainable Living Innovations. Collins, who has 30 years of experience in the architecture field, is a leading the way with SLI by innovating environmentally friendly multifamily construction solutions.

Robin Bolz, Head of Commercial Real Estate Strategy, discusses a range of topics with Collins, including:

  • How SLI got its start: Already a co-founder of Seattle architecture firm CollinsWoerman, Collins started the building technology company SLI in the aftermath of the Great Recession. The inspiration came as Collins saw opportunities for innovation in sustainable building. “Why can’t we use less energy and water?” Collins says. “Especially for high-rise residential projects that are essentially the same floor 20 times.”
  • “Build parts, not space”: SLI focuses on modular building and panelized construction. From the start, Collins wanted to “build parts, not space.” SLI produces panels with fully integrated parts, such as electrical systems, which are shipped together and assembled on-site.
  • Perfecting the product: Over the years, SLI experimented and refined its approach. The company focused on designing panels that could be erected in tandem with structural steel, which provides the structure’s skeleton. The fully integrated panels help cut down on resources, costs and time. “Literally 10 guys and a crane and you can build an entire building,” Collins says.
  • Baking a green cake: Forget green eggs and ham, Collins is after green cake. As he explains it, early sustainability efforts in construction were akin to “green sprinkles” on the same cake—using traditional methods to construct a building, then utilizing more resources to make it green. SLI aims to make the whole building process more efficient. The company’s goal is to use half the water and half the energy to build the same world-class product, the ideal “green cake.”
  • Future opportunities: Collins looks forward to bringing sustainability and modular innovation—including mixed-income and permanent supportive housing projects—across the West Coast. “If we can use our technology to help those who struggle and face homelessness in our community and other communities, that would be one of the most gratifying things we’ve accomplished,” Collins says.


Real Estate Banking Commercial Real Estate Trends Affordable Housing Multifamily Lending

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