With a strategy focused on environmental and social impact and sustainable building for all, serving a deep commitment to sustainability, Dr. Zosia Brown is passionate about shaping a future for people and planet.
As the Vice President of Sustainability at Nexii, she is dedicated to carrying out the company’s vision of reinventing how the world builds. Nexii, a green construction company, has moved beyond just ideas and turned its innovative solutions into timely building solutions. This has been made possible due to the rapid advancements in materials science, increasing environmental and climate regulations, and a surge in consumer and market demand for sustainable building products and methods.
Nexii’s technology and building system are designed to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, reduce energy costs, and decrease waste compared to traditional construction methods. As the world increasingly prioritizes sustainability, Nexii’s solutions lead the way in scalable, low-carbon solutions. The company’s cutting-edge approach to panelized construction is a testament to the importance of prioritizing sustainability at every stage of the building life cycle.
Let us know more about how Zosia and Nexii go hand-in-hand toward a sustainable future.
The Early Career
Zosia Brown began her career as a Green Building Intern at a consultancy focused on green design and sustainability while pursuing a graduate degree in Resource Management and Environmental Studies at the University of British Columbia.
Her studies culminated in a PhD in green building performance, focusing on comfort and wellness, working with Dr. Ray Cole at the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Zosia then took on roles as Sustainability Analyst and Associate in energy, engineering, and building firms across the United States, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. After her time abroad, she returned to North America to serve as Head of Resource Conservation and Sustainability at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA, where she integrated sustainability and conservation initiatives across the zoo’s 92-acre property. Her efforts resulted in the zoo winning the 2018 Community Impact Award for Sustainable Business Operations.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Zosia returned to Vancouver and joined Nexii Building Solutions as the Vice President of Sustainability. In this role, Zosia leads teams in measuring and tracking product performance, carbon footprint in operations, handprint through project work, healthy materials, and circularity in resource use.
Overcoming the Hurdles
As an undergraduate student, Zosia was taught by and subsequently worked for a female professor who was highly competitive with her peers and equated success with ‘winning’ in the workplace. This led Zosia to believe that the best way to advance in her career was by working harder than others. After becoming a mother, she felt pressured to keep her work and family lives separate to be taken seriously. She lacked mentors, found it challenging to form friendships with other female leaders and struggled to feel happy about their achievements.
Over the past decade, however, Zosia has been fortunate to work alongside remarkable leaders, who have helped her shift her perspective. She has learned that it is not about scarcity, working harder or competition, but rather about abundance, working smarter and lifting others around us. This is particularly true in the sustainable building and climate solutions sectors where, when we celebrate the success of others, we extend our positive impact on the planet and everyone benefits. Zosia is now a champion of these values.
Changing the Landscape
Nexii, a green construction company, is committed to designing and producing sustainable, cost-effective, and climate-resilient buildings and products. Their sustainability strategy revolves around four main pillars: Climate, Nature, People, and Community.
Over the last two years, with the support of Nexii’s Sustainability Council and Board of Directors, Zosia lead the development of a framework of sustainability commitments and goals that bridge an industry-leading ESG strategy with data-driven sustainable product design and transparency.
Nexii’s governance structure holds team members accountable for progress made towards these commitments. Nexii’s sustainability practices include:
- selecting healthy and non-toxic materials,
- designing for end-of-life to support a circular economy,
- eliminating waste in their plants with over 90% diversion from landfill, and
- developing a net-zero standard plant design relevant to every new facility they bring online.
They have also embedded a code of ethics into their practice and supplier relationships. This approach has led to remarkable progress and impact for a young company, with a willingness at every level to do things differently.
The Foundational Pillars
Recognizing the urgent need to address the environmental impact of buildings and construction, Nexii’s sustainable solutions incorporate their breakthrough material, Nexiite and their building solution, the Nexii System – high performance panelized building wall and roof assemblies. This approach has enabled the company to rapidly assemble high-quality buildings with near-zero waste and reduced carbon emissions, all while causing less disruption to communities.
The Nexii System prioritizes innovation and sustainability, with products that are precisely designed and manufactured off-site and quickly assembled on-site, resulting in cost and time savings and minimal waste. Nexii’s mission of building a vibrant future for people and the planet is rooted in sustainability, making it a leader in the industry.
Unique Work Culture
Nexii recognizes that engaged and satisfied employees are crucial to achieving its mission of building a sustainable future. To this end, the company prioritizes workforce flexibility to attract and retain top talent. Nexii’s Constitution and hybrid work guidelines prioritize integrity-focused workplace flexibility. The company offers a mixed work arrangement for all full-time, office-based employees and contractors, enabling them to choose the optimal work environment for themselves and their team while aligning with Nexii’s Constitution and Goals & Objectives.
Zosia asserts, “Sustainability at Nexii is a team sport. I support and encourage the hybrid work program and model our sustainability mission and Constitution in my day-to-day activities, alongside my colleagues.” Nexii’s Constitution guides the company’s beliefs and actions to ensure ethical behaviour. The hybrid work guidelines balance flexibility and productivity, enabling employees to work from the location of their choice while maintaining in-person connections and collaboration at the office.
Technology is at the forefront of Nexii’s approach to building and construction, as it enables the development of sustainable, cost-efficient, durable, and disaster-resilient buildings. Nexii’s breakthrough material, Nexiite, is a sustainable alternative to conventional concrete, comprised of sand, high-quality aggregate, and a binder. Nexiite’s composition facilitates rapid curing, achieving higher compression strength faster than concrete.
Nexii’s high-performance green building products are manufactured in plants to project specifications using 3D software, resulting in panels that fit together like jigsaw pieces on-site, significantly reducing build times and eliminating almost all construction waste. Nexii also partners with world-leading brands like Siemens, Honeywell, Pella, and Trane through its Integrated Technology Partner program to deliver breakthrough products and services, moving closer to its goal of net-zero and net-positive buildings for its clients. With technology playing a critical role in Nexii’s approach to building and construction, the company is revolutionizing conventional techniques to design and construction, scaling building decarbonization in line with global climate targets.
Adapting to Changes
Implementing circular economy principles in the construction industry can lead to significant benefits in terms of reducing resource consumption and waste generation. Designing for deconstruction (DfD) is a crucial strategy for achieving circularity in the built environment. By designing buildings with disassembly in mind, valuable materials can be reclaimed and reused, reducing the need for virgin resources and minimizing waste.
Nexii’s panelized construction system is an example of DfD in action. By using prefabricated panels that can be easily disassembled and reassembled, Nexii can reduce waste and increase the lifespan of its buildings. The successful deconstruction of the Nexii Discovery Centre is a testament to the effectiveness of this approach.
– Nexii panels designed for disassembly and reuse can offset up to 68% of the embodied carbon associated with initial manufacture.
– Over 99% of the materials were diverted from landfill through disassembly, with only two small buckets of waste (21kg) generated.
– Over 350 employment hours were created during this project, including Nexii staff.
Adopting circular economy principles in the construction industry is critical to reducing the environmental impact of the built environment. As a leader in sustainable building solutions, Nexii is at the forefront of this movement and is actively working towards a future where resource consumption and waste generation are minimized and materials are continuously recirculated.
Above & Beyond
Zosia says, “A personal goal centers around building an optimistic state of mind about the state of the world and our ability to solve big challenges – decarbonize our economy and get people and planet on a stable course for the future. To paraphrase Christiana Figueres on this subject, optimism is not passive or soft; it is gritty.”
Zosia Brown is a sustainability leader who understands the multifaceted demands of her role. She is responsible for driving transformational change, engaging with the science of sustainability, building reporting systems, and tracking performance. Zosia recognizes that this path is both invigorating and challenging and can take an emotional toll on herself and her team members. She understands the importance of holding space for this tension and showing young leaders how to work with compassion and integrity.
As her career evolves, Zosia’s goals include creating peer support systems, providing mentorship, and promoting diversity in the buildings and construction sector. She believes that supporting initiatives that spotlight leaders who champion sustainability and set an example of new leadership models is crucial as we navigate this complex world.
Zosia mentions that, when sustainability is not a core part of the mission, leadership roles can often involve a heavy dose of internal sales. “Sustainability leaders are inherently challenging the way we’ve always done things. Conversations almost always come down to a question of resources and how much an initiative will cost. Learning to speak the language of the function or department one is trying to get on board is key to overcoming institutional inertia and building alignment. This means finding common ground with finance, operations, procurement, brand and marketing, risk and compliance.”
“Challenging the status quo goes hand in hand with looking beyond short-term gains and consistently holding a long-term view. Bravery to me means being aware of macro-trends (in climate change, carbon pricing, supply chain dynamics, consumer demands) and taking early action to ready a company for what’s to come,” Zosia concludes.s