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Mighty Buildings is an Oakland-based construction technology startup that delivers sustainable housing built with unique 3D printing technology. Along with my three co-founders (CEO Slava Solonitsyn, COO Alexey Dubov, and CTO Dmitry Starodubstev), we bring a diverse set of backgrounds that allows us to approach the housing and climate crises with a unique perspective to help unlock productivity in construction while addressing the climate implications that come with supplying additional housing.

For me, it is a dream job and one where I get to use both of my degrees (MBA and MPA) from Presidio Graduate School on a daily basis. Along with leading our sustainability efforts, which includes working with my team to build out our roadmap to achieving Carbon Neutrality by 2028 (with a goal of avoiding offsets), I oversee our certification efforts. This includes our work with UL in creating the world’s first standard for 3D printed construction which underlies Appendix AW of the 2021 International Residential Code update, our work with ASTM leading their work on new standards for the application of additive manufacturing to construction, and our work with California Housing & Community Development’s Factory Built Housing Program. 

I lead many of our external partnership efforts such as our involvement with the Advanced Building Construction Collaborative, the Housing Innovation Alliance, and others, and also serve as our primary spokesperson for media interviews. I appreciate the diversity of areas I work in, as I am a systems thinker, something that is core to a Presidio education. This helps me have an expansive view of the ecosystem that is Mighty Buildings and, more importantly, the various systems that we interact with.

When choosing a title, it was important to me personally and to Mighty Buildings as a company that it be Chief Sustainability Officer. This is one of the ways that we have planted our flag in terms of the central importance of sustainability (and even more so resilience and regeneration) to our core mission. We believe in approaching the housing and climate crises as a both/and proposition (or “dual crises”), given the interplay between the two. 

The reality is that the climate crisis impacts the environment more and more as time passes, driving people from their homes—whether it be due to rising sea levels, the increasing number and severity of wildfires, increasingly severe storm seasons, or even catastrophic wind events. The housing crisis is placing more people in the face of these realities as housing costs drive construction farther and farther away from city centers. Moreover, it is often those least able to afford it who face the brunt of these realities.

Additionally, housing directly relates to the social element that is so important to Sustainability even beyond the environmental impacts. This is another major reason why I feel Presidio helped prepare me so well for this role, and why I was drawn to working in housing and construction. Housing is a foundational element in terms of human needs, which makes it an incredibly powerful lever in addressing a myriad of intractable problems (climate crisis, homelessness, inequality, social isolation, etc.). 

By approaching deployment of new technologies from the perspective of “collaborative disruption,” in which we actively engage with key stakeholders from early on (public, private, and civil society), we actively work to ensure that the solutions we develop reflect the breadth of needs and are informed by our systems view. This enables us to identify unknown unknowns and manage risk as we move forward in helping the world build better.

I think that approach, and the fact that we seek to create revolutionary new ways of building rather than slowly unrolling incremental changes to existing technologies, makes our approach different and unique.

Ready to follow in the footsteps of talented alumni like Sam and become a Presidian? There’s no better time than now to make a change—for yourself and for the world. Learn more about our MBA, MPA, Dual Degree, and Certificate programs, and then start a conversation with us!

Main image credit: Mighty Buildings

About the Author / Sam Ruben

Sam Ruben is an accomplished innovator, entrepreneur, executive, and Chief Sustainability & Partnerships Officer and co-founder at Mighty Buildings. He is a graduate of the Presidio Graduate School (C17 Dual MBA/MPA Degree). Prior to Mighty Buildings, Sam spent his career as a sustainability consultant, an EDF Climate Corps Fellow, and a community builder with the United Religions Initiative, among other experiences.

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