How and why did you acquire the business in the first instance?
I acquired the group of Baupanel System companies originally to complete some private projects in Spain where the company was based. I saw the uniqueness in the Baupanel building technology for the rapidly changing world in the face of climate change and in meeting the demand for various construction projects.
However, just after the point of acquisition around 2008, the global financial crisis hit, and the property and construction industries in Europe were severely and negatively impacted. Having just invested considerable amounts of money and time into Baupanel, it meant I had to put my private projects on hold in Spain and I began to look at other parts of the world that may find the Baupanel System of particular interest to meet their construction and infrastructure needs.
Once you acquired the business, how did you set about advancing Baupanel to become one of the most advanced building technologies in the world?
The initial appeal of Baupanel for me was that at the time of the acquisition it was already the effective construction system, that reduces the cost and time of execution of any project while at the same time increasing the structural quality and the thermal and acoustic insulation of any building. When I came on board, with these premises and after several years of further research and development with universities, some of the most accomplished engineers and other partners I can proudly say that Baupanel System is one of the most advanced building technologies in the world, and is one of the best solutions for compliance with Technical Building Codes around the world.
Baupanel provides a constructive solution in the building sector based on traditional materials using high resistance steel, expanded polystyrene defined by two flat meshes robustly interconnected and sprayed with micro-concrete. The micro-concrete is one of the most important materials that make up our construction system and extensive work has been done on the development of various mortar formulations to meet different needs depending on the panels application. The constructive simplicity allows significant reduction in terms of work in comparison with traditional building systems, and Baupanel is up to 50% lower in weight meaning the volume of foundations will be reduced. This results in significant time, labour and financial savings.
What are the applications of the Baupanel, not only housing?
Research, development and innovation are at the heart of the core business, and Baupanel System devotes great efforts and money into these areas and as a result has developed new fields of application for the panel and registered numerous utility models.
It is possible to build any range of housing from affordable to high-end luxury without any design, shape or height limits. Our project portfolio highlights the versatility of the product allowing us to build bridges, roads, retaining walls, shopping malls, places of worship, schools, hospitals, tunnels and other infrastructure.
In 2017 Baupanel Systems achieved certification from the London Underground. It is the first time a construction material including expanded polystyrene system (EPS) has ever been approved for the LU purposes, giving testimony to Bupanel’s incredible technical achievements.
How is this future proofing the construction industry?
When I started traveling around the world, I realised hurricanes, floods and fires were becoming part of modern day living. And as a developer I couldn’t keep building conventionally using existing building methods.
We are seeing considerable shifts in weather patterns and the way communities live around the world. In relation to buildings, Baupanel aims to be the most resilient and valuable building technology in response to the changing demographics, weather and resource security happening now in the near future.
Baupanel is the necessary solution in the face of climate change. Baupanel System buildings constructed in areas with a high risk of cyclones have demonstrated the ability to withstand the force of Category 5 hurricanes with winds above 156 miles per hour. The same goes for its seismic resistant properties, tests carried out prove that structures can withhold a devastating highest category earthquake, without suffering damage of any kind. Regarding safety in case of fire, Baupanel is certified with a resistance REI 240 minutes, its use being especially suitable in fire prone areas.
The other component to future proofing the construction industry is the life expectancy of any building, and in order to ensure longevity of a Baupanel building they require very little maintenance compared to conventional build. This is a crucial component for many of the countries where we use Baupanel that are notoriously poor at maintaining buildings due to variable factors, but mainly cost.
How and why was sustainability a core aspect of your building technology from the very beginning?
Currently the construction sector is responsible for 40% of consumption of worldwide energy production. In addition, the sector is responsible for 25% of the waste generated in the world. However, Baupanel’s main element is expanded polystyrene (EPS), which is an efficient and effective thermal insulation material, and which plays an important role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, making a very positive contribution to the reduction of global warming. CFCs or HCFCs are not used as foaming agents in the production of EPS, therefore its manufacture does not cause any damage to the ozone layer. Throughout the remaining useful life of the building, Baupanel ensures a significant reduction in the need for external energy input, thus achieving lower consumption of fossil fuels.
Who are some of the people that have built BauPanel systems with you?
One of the primary reasons for acquisition was of course the building technology and really understanding its potential to service the construction needs around the world. However, I was also introduced to a company that was headed-up by Jose Miguel Rodriguez that had great experience in the new building industry. Lucky enough to have him continue his journey with Baupanel, he built around him and assembled through his connections in the industry, a team which is now considered the premier workforce in the Expanded Polystyrene Systems (EPS) sector.
A combination of dynamic commercialism and experienced technical personnel, from architects, engineers and draughtsmen who are all in charge of the study, development and adaptation of the Baupanel System. With more than 35 years of combined experience in pre-industrialized systems, we have now consolidated this knowledge into a refined product which represents the most valuable alternative to conventional building in the construction industry, both in Spain (our main factory is in Malaga) and internationally.
When you invested in the business, did you anticipate that the demand for the product would have reached the proportions it has today?
No, under no circumstances. I had no idea that the demand for a building technology like Baupanel would be so huge until I started to spend time and build relationships off my own back, with governments around the world. I began to see how our technology could meet the needs of current building demand, in particular for housing without compromising the needs of future generations. By countries integrating Baupanel into their strategic national planning, they are not only constructing sustainably and resiliently but also investing in communities and youth with the jobs and science that comes with using the Baupanel System in their countries.
What governments are engaged with Baupanel, and what are their reactions to welcoming this new technology into their countries?
I am excited to say Baupanel is around the world but with a particular focus in the developing countries. The reason I started exploring these markets was because whenever I engaged in conversations, they always steered towards the great need to build affordable housing quickly and cost effectively. This also brought a great purpose into Baupanel’s legacy, which is now used to put roofs over many people’s heads.
Many years ago, my first stop was the Caribbean – this is a classic example of a high risk geographical area susceptible to storms and cyclones and where Baupanel’s resiliency made a real difference.
Baupanel now works with governments in Antigua & Barbuda, India, Pakistan, Ghana, Kenya, Malaysia and many other countries.
Given the advanced technology Bau has delivered, does it require specific certifications in these countries that you are moving into and if so, how do you go about that?
Yes, we always obtain the required certifications of the product in the country of implementation. For this we already have certificates in several countries that will serve as adequate credentials and extensive references for certification bodies and institutions for the Baupanel System Certifications.
The testing of the technology is one of the most important procedures, they are of course exceptionally rigorous, as you can imagine, because we intend to build people’s homes and any other structures as safely as possible.
What are the expansion plans for the building technology to take it around the world?
Realising the high international demand due to the diversity of the product, we have also partnered with various other companies globally that are the top of their game whom have worked with us and our lead engineers to develop bespoke machinery which is an integral component of us being able to meet the global panel demand. We are now able to offer the latest generation industrial machinery so Baupanel can be produced anywhere in the world, through the granting of licenses and other business practices, with total success regardless of the magnitude.
Do you feel your and your partners’ investment in BauPanel Systems over the past decade plus has been justified?
The investment has been more than justified. Not only has Baupanel System become the most advanced building technology, building with purpose, and meeting the demands of current construction challenges in the rapidly changing world. But also, from a business development perspective and realising the totality of market opportunities using Baupanel are truly scalable and literally infinite!
Given the current status of the COVID-19 outbreak, what effect do you think this will have on the business?
Given that Baupanel’s main focus has been building affordable housing in the developing world for many years, during a period of global crisis like this with COVID-19, people are realising more than ever you cannot put three or four families into a space intended for one family. Or furthermore families without proper housing face a higher chance of disease spreading quicker in their home environments, social unrest and greater inequality.
We are currently experiencing higher demand not only for affordable housing using Baupanel System, but also hospitals and other facilities for communal use.