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What if we could transform the concrete structures all around us into active, invisible and sustainable solutions to global carbon pollution? What if, working together with the construction industry, we could remove over one billion tons of carbon dioxide from our environment and make a real difference in the fight against climate change? Both may sound like wishful thinking but soon they may be rhetorical questions. As Bill Gates observed last year, behavioral changes alone will not be enough to solve our climate crisis; in addition, we need what he called “innovation by a deadline”—in other words, new green technologies not just for the transportation and electricity generation sectors.


An exciting new tech is decarbonizing ubiquitous materials such as concrete. Concrete is estimated to be responsible for up to 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions right now—double 2002 levels and triple the levels just three decades ago. Meanwhile, its carbon intensity, i.e. the pollution emitted per ton produced, has soared over 9% in just five years. But could it be that a solution to climate change is staring us in the face, each and every day?

Climate change poses an ongoing threat and will ultimately lead to global decay if we don’t start removing carbon dioxide from the environment. The consequences are chilling and no longer ignorable. Many college graduates are not only contemplating marriage but considering having kids based on whether the environment will support them later. That is unprecedented—and disturbing. Clearly, Gates’ “innovation deadline” is already upon us.

Green Construction tech that reduces CO2

Thankfully, the pandemic expanded awareness of the threats posed by climate change. Before being literally trapped in their homes 24/7, many people didn’t understand that the air inside their homes was even more polluted than the air outside—up to five times more carbon dense and sometimes much more than that. Of course, the danger of pollution extends far beyond our front door, but there is a common denominator: the materials that form our human ecosystem are releasing too much carbon dioxide.

Concrete is the second-most consumed material on the planet, so if you can find a way to decarbonize it, you have moved the needle in a major way.  At last year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the Global Cement and Concrete Association committed to reducing its carbon footprint 25% by 2030, and achieving net zero carbon emissions by the middle of this century—at a time when demand may double. Extreme goals call for bold thinking. What if, for example, a simple parking lot could remove carbon dioxide from the environment and store it permanently—while also improving the performance of the concrete?

Concrete Carbon Capture Technology

Carbon capture and sequestration have been around for a long time, but now, concrete structures can be built with specially formulated cement, such as Carbon Limit’s Capturecrete, that actively captures carbon from the air, then stores it permanently into the concrete. This cement technology helps lower the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process of concrete by up to 36%. It is, quite literally, a “carbon capturing sponge," and it is extraordinarily timely since, while cement typically comprises around 10% of concrete mix, cement is responsible for 90% of the CO2 emissions of concrete. In other words, concrete is not the problem per se. Cement is a major polluter, and it’s still the main product used in building and infrastructure projects. It also happens to be the second most-consumed material in the world outside of water.

The recently-passed Infrastructure Law, and the accompanying public sector plans to build at scale, will actually make addressing cement pollution even more urgent. Technologies like carbon-capturing cement are meeting Gates’ innovation challenge, while carbon credits have made developing and selling this technology economically feasible. Indeed, the business opportunity to reduce cement pollution is massive; the size of the global voluntary carbon offsets market alone is projected to reach $2.7 billion by 2028, up from $536 million in 2021. Marrying substantial economic incentives with green technology means cleaner concrete, a healthier environment in our communities and long-term sustainability for our cities. 



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