Michael Keaton. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Michael Keaton has long been one of Pittsburgh’s favorite sons, a Hollywood star who’s never shied away from his roots (and let’s be honest, he’s the best Batman). Now, on Earth Day, he’s debuting a new role — bringing green manufacturing jobs to Pittsburgh, with construction technology company Nexii Building Solutions.

Keaton describes himself as an “unapologetic environmentalist,” which isn’t uncommon in Hollywood. What’s less common is actually making an investment in the green economy on the manufacturing side. He’s partnering with Nexii, a Canadian company, and Craig Rippole of Pittsburgh-based Trinity Commercial Development to manufacture a lower-carbon, sustainable concrete alternative called Nexiite.

“I’ve always been interested in design and construction, but I only recently learned the game-changing impact the construction industry can have in improving the environment by adopting innovative, lower-carbon techniques,” says Keaton. “For me, the opportunity to marry job creation with an environmentally sustainable business is incredibly exciting.

“Nexii’s new plant will create more than 300 green, healthy job opportunities and help revitalize my hometown in a way that helps folks right now while paving the way for future generations,” he says.

Sustainable buildings constructed with Nexiite use less energy, are more cost-efficient and are more resilient when it comes to climate change. Nexii products are precision-manufactured at the plant, then rapidly assembled on-site, which cuts down on time spent building and construction costs. Buildings can be assembled quickly with nearly zero waste.

“Together, the building and construction industries account for 39 percent of global emissions. The time to reinvent the way the world builds is now,” says Nexii CEO Stephen Sidwell.

Nexiite building process. Photo courtsy of Nexii.

This plant, the company’s sixth, will also be the first to be built from its own product. Nexii’s sister plant in Hazleton, PA, will produce the Nexiite panels to build the Pittsburgh plant.

“Not only will the new plant provide manufacturing jobs but the environmentally-friendly panels being produced will also provide real estate owners and developers, like me, with a cost-competitive building solution that significantly reduces carbon emissions,” says Rippole of Trinity Commercial Development.

Starbucks in Abbotsford (British Columbia) is Nexii’s first “green” Starbucks. Photo courtesy of Nexii.

Trinity Sustainable Solutions is working with the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) — the 10-county economic development organization — to narrow down potential locations for the plant within federally designated Opportunity Zones and other communities in need of investment.

“Companies that are excited about creating products that define the future need to be in the region,” says Mark Anthony Thomas, president of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance. “Whatever you want to do, you can do it in Pittsburgh.”

The plant is expected to open in the summer of 2022.

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.