Carbon-Negative Cement and Community Supported Forests

Carbon-Negative Cement and Community Supported Forests
Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 19 august 2009

The urban jungle just got a bit greener and with nary the presence of a tree, thanks to UK-based start-up Novacem. The company has developed a “carbon-negative” cement that absorbs more greenhouse gases over its life cycle than it emits. If adopted on a wide scale, this innovation could  have a huge impact on the overall health of the environment, given that the annual production of conventional Portland cement is responsible for an estimated five percent of global CO2 emissions, more than the airline industry.

While we appreciate the potential dividends offered by this alternative building material, initial estimates don’t place production until at least five years down the road, a fact that doesn’t offset the current construction taking place. Unfortunately, carbon sequestration isn’t a practice that we can wait around for. Recent research suggests natural methods such as forestation and farming are both and effective and economically viable means for achieving this so maybe trees aren’t that replaceable after all.


Image credit: Getty Images, Jon Cartwright/Flickr

To that end, we really like the model of community supported forestry being implemented by Driftless Farm, a 140-acre tract of land located in Wisconsin. For an annual fee of $550 (smaller subscriptions are also available), members are given access to the forest  for outdoor activities and foraging – from spring water to maple syrup – as well as community lead workshops. The idea was launched by Whole Trees Architecture and Construction, a local company that uses small-diameter, un-milled timbers as alternative building materials.

And though these two approaches to the problem of climate change are radically different in their methodologies, it’s inspiring to see the room for innovation that exists in this space. After all, it’s going to take more than one solution to truly change our ways.

Scientific American: Carbon-eating “green” cement wins funds for UK firm

Springwise: Sustainable Forest supported through crowdfunding

[image via Iwan Gabovitch on Flickr]



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