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MIT’s Former Construction Head Launches Green Building Startup With $4.5M Seed Raise

WoHo co-founders Israel Ruiz, Debora Mesa and Anton Garcia-Abril.

A technology company that produces environmentally friendly, cost-effective building components has raised $4.5M in seed funding from a venture firm launched by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based WoHo, or “World Home," claims its materials can lower construction costs by 20% and cut project delivery time in half for a multitude of uses. Co-founded by former MIT Treasurer Israel Ruiz, WoHo raised funds through MIT’s venture capital firm The Engine, the companies announced Thursday.

WoHo’s offerings can be assembled into structural grids for residential, retail, lab or parking uses, and WoHo claims its materials reduce a site’s ecological footprint by 70%. Among its offerings are "Suites," spanning 16-20 feet geared toward residential and commercial use, and column-free "Tower" components spanning 32-64 feet for mid-rise projects, the company says.

MIT School of Architecture professor Anton Garcia-Abril and Georgia Tech Ventulett Chair in Architectural Design Debora Mesa worked over the last two decades to develop the environmentally conscious system and formed WoHo with Ruiz, who they met in 2012.

Ruiz, a former co-chair of MIT’s building committee, told Bisnow Thursday WoHo’s technology works well in cities where space is scarce, but said the easier-to-handle materials are well-suited for the suburbs, such as those near WoHo’s headquarters at The Engine at MIT.

“You think about the Boston area, you think Somerville, inside the [Interstate-495] ring,” Ruiz said. “It’s the perfect technology to do that at the mid-rise level. We can be competitive at low-rise as well.”

WoHo, which also announced a U.S. partnership with Swiss building materials multinational LafargeHolcim, will conduct its first pilot at a lab in Madrid and pledges to build a production facility in Boston in 2021.