With an obvious need to address climate change, and the practical interest of many investors and regulators in ESG, reducing carbon footprints of buildings has gained new importance.
The typical way of address carbon emissions is through cutting energy use—getting more efficient physical systems, creating greater efficiency in heating and cooling buildings by monitoring where people are, and so on.
CarbonQuest has a different approach for buildings that use natural gas for heating or hot water. The company has equipment that takes CO2 arising from burning the gas and compresses and cools it to form a liquid. The liquid is then shipped to some other company that can permanently sequester it.
This isn’t early-stage pure theory. According to the company, it’s already in use at the Grand Tier, a 375,000 square foot multifamily building at 1930 Broadway in New York City. The system is in the building’s basement. After being liquified, the CO2 is transported to Glenwood Mason Supply, which makes concrete blocks. Glenwood injects the liquid into concrete blocks that are used in new building construction. The goal for the building is to cut overall emissions by 25%.
The company claims that its system can capture all of a building’s emissions from natural gas, depending on the structure’s size and design.
CarbonQuest says that the inclusion in concrete is only one way the liquid can be sequestered. Some other options are replacing petroleum in the production of some chemicals and plastics, geological storage, and in wastewater treatment, replacing the use of carbonic acid.
There could be other ways to use CO2, as well. Argonne National Laboratory, working with Northern Illinois University, found a way to convert carbon dioxide and water into ethanol, which can be used in the production of gasoline or in processes in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics industries.
The process could be of particular interest in New York, where Local Law 97 sets limits on the amount of carbon dioxide gas that most buildings over 25,000 square feet are allowed to emit and levies stiff financial penalties on those that don’t comply. The first limits move into place in 2024, with stricter limits in 2030 and 2035. Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia have been moving in the same direction, according to Plant Engineering.