Building Tomorrow: Shriti Pandey’s Strawcture Eco Shines at Sankalp Global Summit 2023

Shriti Pandey, founder, Strawcture Eco, an organization envisioned to make housing more accessible and sustainable for all. Strawcture uses bio-composite fiber panels made of agri-residue (bagasse, rice husk, wheat straw) to make walls, door, furniture and flooring solutions.

After completing her master’s degree in construction management at New York University, Shriti Pandey from Gorakhpur returned to India with a mission. Travelling extensively, particularly to rural areas, she delved into understanding the needs of low-income families through a sustainable construction lens. Shriti’s research laid the foundation for Strawcture Eco Pvt. Ltd in 2018, the pioneering company in India utilizing bio-composite panels for construction.

Recognizing her impactful work, Shriti was honored as a ‘Climate Fellow’ by the New York-based non-profit organization Echoing Green in 2020. She not only earned this recognition but also secured $90,000 in seed funding. In the same year, Forbes acknowledged her achievements by including her in the ’30 Under 30, Asia’ list under the ‘Industry, Manufacturing & Energy’ category.

In a recent interview, Shriti shed light on her endeavors, including winning recognition a, the Sankalp Global Summit 2023, on Climate Finance for Sustainable Ecosystem.

Q1. What motivated you to start Strawcture Eco? Can you provide an overview of the unique carbon-negative materials that Strawcture Eco produces and how they contribute to offsetting buildings’ embodied footprint?

I started Strawcture Eco in 2018 after spending a year in a village exploring rural life, living with bare essentials, and understanding agriculture and its challenges. The experience made me witness stubble burning in a village in Madhya  Pradesh which led to me delving deeper into the problem and learning more about it.

At Strawcture our mission is to make carbon-negative building materials using Biobased resources such as Biomass which is otherwise burnt. The raw material is rapidly renewable and absorbs Co2 during its growth which is locked in the product and thus helps in offsetting the building’s footprint.

Our first commercial product is AgriBioPanels which is a drywall panel and a green replacement of Plasterboard and wood-based panels to do Interiors and Insulation for both thermal comfort and sound.

Our 2nd product is a 100% biodegradable felt which is made using natural organic animal residue fiber and offers better thermal insulation, absorbs VOCs from other sources, and regulates indoor temperature.

We are also doing early R&D on sustainable paint & plasters.

Q2. What is the primary target market for Strawcture Eco’s products, and how do you engage with architects, designers, and project management companies (PMCs) to incorporate your specialized materials into their projects at the design stage?

Our current Target is Commercial buildings such as offices, co-working spaces, and Institutional buildings where our panels and insulation products are used for applications such as Drywall, partitions, ceilings, acoustics, and furniture. We engage with Architects or PMCs at a product design stage directly with our own In-house sales team and with our network of Channel partners who generate qualified leads for us.

Our approach to sales is to offer a solution rather than a product and give end-to-end support to a designer with a very high degree of customization.

We have so far worked on 100+ projects and dozens of designers who are more actively seeing the value of such non-toxic and more functional building materials to work with.

Q3. Could you share some insights into the specific benefits and advantages that your carbon-negative materials offer compared to conventional construction materials?

Our AgriBioPanels are designed and tailored for the Indian market where we require more durability. We make panels that have up to double the load-to-weight ratio of traditional drywall panels and can create load-bearing dry wall panels, unlike traditional plasterboards.

Secondly, our panels have the lowest VOC emission and offer at least 40% better thermal & sound insulation than traditional products in the market.

Lastly, all of these benefits are offered in a product that sequestrates and then emits Co2.

In a country like India, our product is priced well and is competitive with bigger brands like Century, Armstrong, and Saint Gobain for their Acoustic panels, fire-rated Partitions, and ceiling products.

 Q4. Congratulations on winning recognition a, the Sankalp Global Summit 2023, on Climate Finance for Sustainable Ecosystem. What does winning this recognition mean for Strawcture Eco? Can you tell us more about this achievement and the impact it has had on Strawcture Eco’s mission and growth?

It’s been a great experience for our team to win this recognition which helps in positioning us as one of the more proven solutions in the built environment ecosystem for climate mitigation and adaptation solutions.

It has and we believe will help us more in also exploring the export market for us. We have already received a lot of Investor interest from the climate tech space and we will be engaging with some of them for future funding and support.

 Q5. How does Strawcture Eco ensure the sustainability and eco-friendliness of its manufacturing processes and materials, and what measures are in place to continuously improve environmental performance?

As a company, our active goal is to measure and reduce our footprint as much as possible. We have our factories for manufacturing within a 50 km radius of our source of raw materials to keep our transportation footprint low. We are working on pushing Solar/ renewable energy for running our felt/ animal residue setup for carding, felting, and cleaning processes in off-grid locations in the deserts of Western Rajasthan.

We strive to meet global standards of environmental performance not just Indian. We are currently working on getting all our products tested by EN ( European) standards and also getting our EPD & LCAs.

To improve our footprint further as we scale and expand we will be working with more local partners to scale in a decentralized manner to help scale without increasing our environmental footprint.

Q6. Are there any upcoming projects, partnerships, or innovations that you can share that will help Strawcture Eco further advance its mission of sustainability and carbon negativity in the construction industry

We are currently working on coupons for exciting partnerships. One of them is with a premium furniture brand for commercial spaces. We are working to launch a new product line with 100% sustainable material.

We are also working with an Italian brand of sustainable building materials to explore the European market and create an end-to-end carbon negative dry wall system with every element from farming, finish, and panels to insulation being carbon negative and in a modular manner.

These two will have a commercial-ready product by the end of this FY and help position us as a global player for carbon-negative materials.