There are a number of ways to sequester carbon, though many of them involve brand new technologies which are very costly, and are still being tested and tweaked for effectiveness.
However there are some cheaper and more efficient methods of carbon sequestration already available to us – managed grazing, for example.
Capturing or storing carbon in building materials is another great way to do sequester carbon an affordable manner, with materials which are already available.
Obviously carbon sequestration needs to work hand-in-hand with sustained and ongoing efforts to reduce wasted energy in order to make a real difference, but if you are building a new home, take a step in the right direction by choosing cleaner and greener options for building materials.
Here are 5 innovative new building options to help you sequester carbon in your home:
1.) Low Carbon Cement
Cement is the most widely used material in the world—and that is a problem. Making cement is a notoriously dirty business, consuming lots of energy in its heat-intensive manufacture and creating chemical reactions during production that account for 5 percent of our global CO2 emissions.
But not all cements are created equal. The sustainable cement maker Solidia Technologies has slashed its carbon output by tweaking the basic recipe, using less limestone and lower roasting temperatures. The cement further reacts with CO2 during the curing process (when it hardens), trapping the carbon permanently in the concrete matrix.
2.) Green Bricks
You may soon be able to slather low-carbon cement onto bricks composed of power plant exhaust. The University of Newcastle in Australia has partnered with the chemical and mining giant Orica and the carbon innovation company GreenMag Group to pioneer a process called mineral carbonation, which turns CO2 from a gas to a solid.
This carbonation process mimics natural geology, which creates carbonates through the slow weathering of minerals. Geologists believe that over millions of years this process reduced the excessive CO2 in the prehistoric atmosphere to levels that enable life to thrive today.
The world’s first pilot mineral carbonation plant will be opened on the grounds of the University of Newcastle in March. If this venture is successful, Orica hopes eventually to scale up to commercial production.
3.) Green Roofing
Carbon can be trapped in our roofs as well using another mineral trick that nature has got up its sleeve—namely, olivine.
This literally green mineral…is one of the most abundant rocks in Earth’s mantle. It weathers quickly when it is exposed to CO2 in the air, sponging up the offending gas and converting the mixture into silicon dioxide and magnesite, which renders the greenhouse gas chemically inert.
The multinational company Derbigum has devised a roofing system that, when hit by rain, binds with CO2. Olivine in a roof can capture 1.25 times its weight in CO2 during the course of its lifetime. And when the olivine roofing membrane has done its job (it takes about 30 years for the mineral to stop reacting with CO2) then you can roll out a new roof and start all over again.
4.) Build With Bamboo
Bamboo grows like a weed, matures in three years, regrows on its own without the need for replanting, and does not require a lot of fertilizer or pesticides to thrive. This tough material has greater compressive strength than concrete, making it ideal for many building applications like flooring, paneling, screens and stairs. Bamboo also sequesters a lot more carbon per acre per year than most other wood products.Despite these impressive green credentials, though, not all bamboo is sustainably produced. Buyers should check out their suppliers first to make sure that the bamboo that they are purchasing is grown and harvested in an eco-friendly way.
5.) Methane Furniture
Much of what is inside our houses is made of plastic. Plastics are produced in factories, which consume about 270 million tons of fossil fuels every year. But here too, there are some exciting new products to green up our act.California-based Newlight Technologies has come up with a way to turn waste methane—a greenhouse gas 20 times as heat-trapping as CO2—produced on livestock farms into biodegradable plastic, a material that the company has named AirCarbon.Producing plastic from pollution was not cost-effective until Newlight discovered a novel catalyst that allowed it to create the material at a lower unit cost than oil-based plastic of similar quality. The company is currently working with over 60 Fortune 500 companies on plans to use AirCarbon in a variety of products from cell phone cases to plastic bags and furniture