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Entrepreneurs Tackling Climate Change: “At the end of the day, it’s not feasible or realistic to expect the public sector and government to solve these colossal issues”

With Paul Galvin and Amine Rahal


At the end of the day, it’s not feasible or realistic to expect the public sector and government to solve these colossal issues. Climate change and global warming are intimately related to the housing crisis, presenting massive problems that compound one another. These are market-based problems and they need market-oriented solutions. There are plenty of people who want to work towards a solution to the housing crisis, however the government will be only able to select a handful for funding. We engage the developers whether they win or not. Further, when a project is subsidized by the government, the associated cost and time increase immensely. Entrepreneurs and businesses should seek out innovative, simple and standalone solutions, without government support.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Galvin, Chairman and CEO of SG Blocks, a leading innovator, designer and fabricator of container-based structures. SG Blocks, co-founded by Paul in 2007, supports developers, architects, builders and owners in achieving greener construction, faster execution, and stronger buildings of higher value. Paul brings over 25 years of experience in developing and managing real estate and has played a key role in SG Blocks’ growth and expansion since inception.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always been passionate about addressing the needs of people. Before working in real estate, I established a non-profit organization to address housing, healthcare and medical needs. I transitioned to a career in real estate and naturally followed the needs of people which always leads back to the need for safe and affordable housing. I sought out a sustainable solution, both environmentally and financially, to address the need for safe housing. New methods of construction create demand for healthcare, and education, in addition to creating housing.

What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?

SG Blocks builds incredibly safe, strong, and green structures using code-engineered shipping containers. We aim to solve the housing crisis in a sustainable and affordable manner.

Can you tell us about the initiatives that your company is taking to tackle climate change? Can you give an example for each?

We worked through an extensive process with the International Code Council (ICC), which approved our shipping containers internationally marking the first time in history a recycled material was approved for construction. Traditional construction is quite harmful to the environment, and is one of the few industries that has not been disrupted. By using recycled materials, SG Blocks is disrupting the construction industry in order to tackle climate change and the housing crisis in the U.S.

What was the most difficult thing you faced when you first started your company/organization? Can you share how you overcame that?

SG Blocks was founded in 2007, immediately before the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the market crash. It was a difficult time for everyone. Perseverance and creative solutions allowed us to survive while the financial markets organized themselves.

Do you think entrepreneurs/businesses can do a better job than governments to solve the climate change and global warming issues? Please explain why or why not.

At the end of the day, it’s not feasible or realistic to expect the public sector and government to solve these colossal issues. Climate change and global warming are intimately related to the housing crisis, presenting massive problems that compound one another. These are market-based problems and they need market-oriented solutions. There are plenty of people who want to work towards a solution to the housing crisis, however the government will be only able to select a handful for funding. We engage the developers whether they win or not. Further, when a project is subsidized by the government, the associated cost and time increase immensely. Entrepreneurs and businesses should seek out innovative, simple and standalone solutions, without government support.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am eternally grateful for my father, who inspired me from a young age. My dad was a successful businessman, a beacon in the Catholic Church, and a very good blend of being a capitalist and a humanist. He was, undoubtedly, someone committed to service.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”?

1. The work never ends

2. Startups are painful, very few people can really stand the pain

3. Your original idea will need to change

4. Always add good people over good resumes

5. Mainstream technology requires perpetual education to get there

You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring a great amount of good to the world, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Americans are the most generous people in the world and yet we live in a world of great need. We ought to create solutions that are easily and directly delivered to those in need — namely, linking donors, platforms and charities that are inclined to help those in need. What’s crucial is a platform that cuts out the middleman and directly bridges the generosity of businesses with pertinent charitable opportunities — classrooms, art, medical centers, etc. The goal of Precision Giving is to efficiently and rapidly connect real donors with real people doing stuff on the ground to bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people. These platforms are starting to emerge, but there needs to be more — more hope and more global assistance.

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