VC Jim Pettit sees big returns in green building materials as biofuels, solar dim

When Serious Materials announced $60 million in additional venture capital funding last month, investor Jim Pettit felt more than a little bit vindicated. Pettit and his venture capital firm Navitas Capital led the early funding rounds in Serious, a Sunnyvale, Calif. maker of energy efficient building materials such as windows and drywall material. Along with his partner Travis Putnam, Pettit had positioned Navitas to be an early player in a greentech sector -- construction and building materials -- that had lots of promise but huge barriers to entry.

The latest injection represents the largest funding round for greentech energy efficiency in 2009, according to the Cleantech Group. And it is likely an early indicator of a big bump in venture activity in this space. Venture capitalists, burned out on expensive and capital-intensive energy generation players focused on biofuels and solar panels, are looking to the more mundane areas of energy conservation and efficiency as places to lay their markers.