We hear a lot about removing CO2 from cement and concrete to mitigate the impact that those products have on the environment and climate change. But there is more sustainability potential in cement than has been recognized. In fact, smart building contractors who profess sustainable, “net-zero” energy consumption, have a new approach to champion.
While the U.S. Congress debates the need for new approaches to solving the problems that confront us in mitigating the climate crisis, Europe has defined the issue in more detail. Its approach, the Green Deal, establishes goals and, to realize these goals and reduce CO2 emissions, approximately €600 billion has been reserved in the EU’s Green Deal funds.
In many countries, land use is becoming more restrictive as agricultural lands are being set aside to maintain food supplies and buildable land is being exhausted. Cities are growing up instead of out, but high-rise living isn’t for everybody. The height of buildings is tightly regulated in most areas due to the conditions of the ground or fear of natural elements such as earthquake and hurricane.
Artificial intelligence, otherwise known as AI can benefit many areas where data is dominant. A novel application is in solar arrays at the utility level. Heliogen’s technology, for example, is a modular, turnkey, AI-enabled concentrated solar energy system that has the potential to deliver clean energy with nearly 24/7 availability. Heliogen has been granted by Woodside Energy (USA) Inc. a Limited Notice to Proceed to begin procurement of key equipment for a 5 megawatt commercial-scale demonstration facility in California.
Major urban areas have not seen significant solar applications due to density and the age of many structures. New York City’s five boroughs contain many buildings that retain their 100-year-old and older walls and roofs, making them unsuitable for the often heavy solar panels newer building sport. In response, one company has come up with a “solar canopy” approach that has promise.
Putting a sustainability twist on new developments, the Lakeview Village site in Mississauga, Ontario Canada was once home to the Lakeview Generating Station—known locally as the Four Sisters due to its four 500-ft. tall smokestacks—was a place of smog, pollution, and environmental degradation until its eventual decommissioning in 2005.
Seeking ways to mitigate climate change’s more drastic elements, countries are experimenting with a variety of green technologies and methodologies. The most common approach is electrification: electric vehicles and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind generators. Advanced fuel cell and hydrogen applications are being deployed as an alternative, taking some of the stress off the overworked electric grids around the world.
Of all the materials that go into a modern building, one of the oldest, concrete, can be one of the most harmful to the environment. In a recent report, RMI, an independent nonprofit that focuses on solutions to secure a clean, zero-carbon future, points to specific opportunities for reducing the embodied carbon of concrete.
Academic institutions, especially those that are focused on technology and science, do a lot of research on the effects and mitigation of climate change and emissions that harm the environment. National renown institutions lead in proposing alternatives to the fossil fueled energy resources that we currently maintain. And that is often compounded by the adoption of the very technology that they research.