We can actually store carbon dioxide in the built environment
Peter Fiekowsky doesn’t think small. In a recent Guardian article he was quoted saying that the key to solving climate change is not the technology itself. It’s having a meaningful goal: restoring the climate, because if we can’t “it means maybe we’re not doomed”. Believing that we can do it is the silver bullet. Back in September we were in San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit and we had the great pleasure of bringing Peter onto our podcast and broadcasting the audacious goal of restoring the atmospheric concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere back to 300 parts per million by the year 2050.
How, exactly? Simple. Remove 50 billion tons a year more than we emit. Peter leaves those details to carbon removal marketplaces like Nori and the scientists and technologists who are working on promising carbon removal solutions, but he does have a few favorites. The way he sees it, his job is to sell the world on the need for climate restoration.
One of Peter’s favorite ideas is being advanced by one of companies in which he is invested: Blue Planet. They have technology that can capture CO2 from the air as well as their own emissions and store it in aggregate, the key input in concrete and cement. When this technology scales, it could dramatically change how carbon can be stored in the built environment. I am personally interested in seeing successful pilot plant integration, as he is employing a passive direct air capture technique that was pioneered by a mentor of mine, Klaus Lackner.
Blue Planet’s technology has already been proved effective to reduce CO2 emissions from their own sources. But if it was able to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store the recovered carbon in aggregate, it could earn a Carbon Removal Certificate. Just imagine. This would allow us to build roads, bridges, and building materials to hold carbon that came from the atmosphere. We’re keen to continue learning from the results of their pilot and helping to calculate the overall footprint of storing carbon that is removed from the atmosphere in our built environment.
Speaking of which, today I had the great pleasure of speaking with Allison Dring of Made of Air. She reminded me how quickly cities are growing and new cities are cropping up. Imagine, for a minute, that the future cities we build are not only able to store carbon, but play a role in taking the carbon back out of the atmosphere. Allison is an entrepreneur trained as an architect and she has developed an elegant design that stores carbon in biochar.
Combine this with products like laminates that are made from wood waste. Insulation made from recycled materials, like hempcrete. It’s conceivable that building owners will actually be able to generate Carbon Removal Certificates.
At the moment Nori is laser-focused on developing the soil carbon methodology. But as a lean startup we are eager to develop more open source methodologies with input from a broad community of experts interested in building, along with us, a new carbon removal marketplace. In the future we hope to launch more methodologies.
All we need for this one to get going is:
- A global construction company willing to be the anchor to the development of the methodology with Nori.
- Universities and scientists willing to work with us.
- A community committed to developing open source strategies to create Carbon Removal Certificates for carbon dioxide in the built environment.
The good news is those things seem to be showing up and we’re pretty sure we know the right companies, universities, and communities who’d participate with us in a future pilot. Now because these sorts of groups are showing interest, we’ve developing a process to help carbon removal technologies like this create their own carbon removal methodology. Stay tuned.