Software engineers branch out into sustainable construction

Corporate January 30, 2016 01:00

By SOMLUCK SRIMALEE
THE NATION

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AFTER their initial success in developing application software, German Sebastian Justus Schmidt and Nattapong Lekchaichan decided to diversify and establish a construction and architect advisory company, CNX Construction Co, for the development of energy-



“My partner wanted to build a residence for himself, on 17 rai [2.7 hectares] of land in Chiang Mai; a sustainable building, including energy-saving, water-saving and zero waste. But there were no construction or home-building companies capable of meeting his demands.

“Schmidt therefore opted to do it himself, so we decided to set up a new business, CNX Construction, to build his home, and also to propose the same concept to the market this year,” Nattapong said during an interview with The Nation after the grand opening of Phi Suea House yesterday.

The company was established in 2013 with registered capital of Bt5 million, with Schmidt’s Bt200-million Phi Suea House being its first development project.

The residence includes the latest in energy systems: solar-powered hydrogen storage.

There will eventually be 114 kilowatts of photovoltaic panels generating around 441kWh of electricity a day, part of which will be stored in two 2,000-ampere-hour lead-acid battery banks.

Electrolysers will then convert additional excess power into hydrogen by applying an electric current to water. The hydrogen will then be stored until it is needed, typically at night, at which point it will be changed back into electricity via fuel cells.

Nattapong described the system as the most effective and ecologically friendly way to store the energy produced. In addition, the process is entirely clean, with oxygen and water being its only by-products.

“We had developed solar-powered hydrogen storage from a pilot project for a telecom business, but it was still at the study stage. We have, however, now been able to develop it for use in the building” of Phi Suea House, he said.

Using this technology and now having the experience of sustainable construction, CNX started business in earnest, its first customer requiring the development of six sustainable luxury residential units – The Sanctum – in Chiang Mai in a project worth nearly Bt282 million.

The project will commence construction this year, with units being offered for Bt43 million apiece.

“Although there are a number of design and building businesses in the market, ours is differentiated as we design and construct sustainable buildings that are not only energy-saving. We design the overall sustainable concept, such as the water-treatment system, the selection of environment-friendly construction materials – and develop under the zero-waste concept.

“As a result, we are confident that we can complete with other design and building firms operating in the market,” Nattapong said.

CNX Construction’s first customer, owner of The Sanctum project, was won over when Phi Suea House was still being developed last year, which shows that such innovative design and building is attractive in a challenging and competitive market, he said.

“However, we cannot estimate how much income will be generated in the next year, although we will generate about Bt200 million when Phi Suea House is completed in the middle of the year,” the co-founder said.