Buildings & Construction

ADL brings incumbents, startups, and government together to modernize construction

Construction productivity today in the US is lower than it was in 1968. As the US faces a housing affordability crisis and stagnant manufacturing industry, advanced construction techniques - in particular offsite or prefabricated construction - can protect American industry from foreign competition.

It is simultaneously one of the only practical ways to help an energy-efficient, grid-interactive, and healthier building stock to flourish.

To realize the potential of industrial construction, every player in the ecosystem – from policymakers to regulators to materials suppliers to building owners to hard tech startups – must collaborate to establish shared standards, build a robust supply chain, and ultimately transform prefab construction into a strategic American industry.

What We Offer

Problem-Solving with
Crowd-Sourced Innovation

ProblemSpace is a DOE-funded open innovation platform to connect incumbents with innovators and startups to solve specific technical problems.

Buildings & Construction
Innovation Network

In partnership with the DOE, ADL Ventures and RMI are bringing together the ecosystem, products, and services that will transform construction and retrofits in the US.

New Revenue Streams for Internal Innovation

ADL works with legacy-sector companies to “unstick” internally-developed technologies and IP.

ADL’s Buildings-Related Product Development Initiatives

Technology Innovation

Helping corporate incumbents source breakthrough enabling technologies sorely needed to advance the buildings industry

Prefab Design Challenge: Open innovation challenge to design new prefab REVIT models to address specific challenges based on climate zones and required functionality

Prefab Material Challenge: Open innovation challenge to develop materials systems for use in a manufacturing environment (as opposed to a field environment)

Effective Communication Tools for Industry Stakeholders

Searchable tools for owners, developers, and other stakeholders to identify the expertise and partners to make a prefab project successful

A curated platform of fabricators, design, and engineering service providers, manufacturers, financial institutions, and insurers

A member impact evaluation quantifies each member’s contribution on metrics that include housing affordability, economic development, education, job creation, energy conservation, CO2 mitigation & adaptation, and national prosperity

Educational Tools & Best Practices

New ideas and research shared broadly in an industry where novel advances are typically kept close to the vest

Digital design and engineering guidelines

Essential training curricula

Standards for Construction Industrialization

Working with organizations which drive standardized codes and inspection processes to boost production efficiency and reduce soft costs

Offsite code standardization

Digital library of REVIT models to fabricate building legos from past successful projects

Project Finance and Insurance

Assets and information that allow banks and insurers to develop suitable products for the prefab buildings industry

Insurance wrapper marketplace to effectively offer aggregated packages to owners and developers, even if there is a wide array of project participants

Project finance marketplace to help banks competitively underwrite project loans that provide financing to the entire project

Software Development

Standardized software to realize the efficiencies of digital construction

An end-to-end prefab platform supports all phases of a project for all participants in the value chain

An “on the ground” data capture system to accurately capture and digitize pre-existing improvements, especially for retrofits

ADL Buildings Leadership

Nolan Browne


Nolan, who has been called “relentless with his [prefab] ideas” by Forbes, is an innovation expert, entrepreneurial executive, investor, fundraiser, and board member specializing in buildings technology. Nol founded a leading building science institute at MIT and regularly speaks on market transformation and collaboration models at the National Academy of Science and other esteemed institutions. A 5-time founder with 15 years of C-Suite experience in both startups and multinational corporations, Nol holds advanced economics and business degrees from MIT and Johns Hopkins.

Frank Yang


Frank Yang is a Partner at ADL Ventures and the Founder / CEO of Liatris, an advanced insulation materials startup which is developing the only fully non-flammable insulation board in the industry, and has an easy-to-install, robust technology well-suited to modern construction practices. Frank became inspired to help scale up ADL’s open innovation offerings after Liatris went through the ADL’s US DOE-funded Building Materials Challenge as an applicant, and currently leads ADL’s DOE-related activities, in particular the ABC Collaborative. Frank previously spent 10+ years in the solar industry as a co-founder of Stion, a US solar panel manufacturer and systems integrator. He ran all commercial operations for the company, raising >$500M in funding and selling out a 150 MW annual capacity production line. Frank received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in Economics from Amherst College.

lleader 2

Colby Swanson

Executive in Residence

Colby is a serial entrepreneur, innovation strategist and construction technologist who has spent over 20 years in the building industry. He began as a framer, graduated to a forensics investigator, has authored corporate strategies at multiple Fortune 500 companies, and has led the launch of many new ventures. He is currently the Managing Partner at Momentum Innovation Group (MIG), an innovation consulting firm helping clients drive transformational growth. Colby recently co-founded and serves as the Executive Director of the Modular Mobilization Coalition (MMC), which consists of fifteen modular companies who own and operate two dozen modular factories around the US.

Kyungsu Alex Park

Engagement Manager

Alex is an operational strategy and innovation leader passionate about improving construction tools and processes. Alex was a project manager and internal Innovation and Quality leader at Mortenson, delivering 5 landmark projects in diverse construction environments and market sectors with a cumulative project value of $2B. Alex’s passion for industry development led to his leadership seats at the Design-Build Institute of America and Associated General Contractors. Alex studied Construction Engineering Management at Oregon State University, where he currently serves on the Industry Advisory Board.


Thought leadership

Building retrofits: Innovation pathways to a more efficient built environment

In February 2021, winter storm Uri brought record low temperatures, ice, and snow, devastating unsuspecting regions of the U.S. like Texas. Only a few months before, much of the U.S. endured a rare and extremely active 2020 hurricane season. These recent events, compounded by projections of future weather events, remind us that climate change delivers unpredictable blows.

Meeting the Needs of Building Materials with Emerging Technology

Nothing changes in building construction…until it changes. Incumbents are looking for competitive advantage and startups are looking to disrupt the status quo. Despite a fear of disruption, most legacy sector companies are not adept at working with startups at the bleeding edge of innovation. ProblemSpace connects legacy sector companies with the innovation ecosystem to help solve vexing technical challenges.

The Secret City that Paved the Way for Modern Prefabrication

The construction industry has been contending with an aging workforce, extended labor shortages, lack of innovation, and narrow profit margins for decades. Since 1947, it has been outpaced in labor productivity by a factor of 16. It’s no surprise then that, on average, large construction projects tend to be 80% over budget…