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Along with more resilient building structures, we need to use materials with lower carbon-dioxide emissions


Description

Summary

As climate change creates more extreme weather events even in places where they may not have struck before, it will become increasingly more difficult to restrict development to areas with a low likelihood of natural disaster. Therefore, we need to begin constructing homes that will not only help us mitigate climate change, but will also help us adapt to the changes in weather patterns that we are already beginning to see.

Constructing concrete-shell homes in a dome shape that can withstand a variety of natural disasters, including high winds of 300 mph and even fire (2), will ensure that we not only reduce the carbon dioxide from energy use but are also able to use cement that is made in less carbon-dioxide intensive ways.


Category of the action

Industrial Efficiency: Cement Industry


What actions do you propose?

Lower Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Cement
Cement is "the third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S." but there are currently efforts to see how both ancient (6) and new cement mixes could reduce and possibly even reverse carbon dioxide emissions (7). These are likely to produce less of a net carbon dioxide emissions than using wood and could take the place of other traditional building materials, making it more profitable.

In addition, using ash from incinerators that is tested to ensure that it is not harmful to human health would make use of a waste product to create something useful, furthering its environmental benefit and profit.

These cements should be used:

1. In areas that have been destroyed by tornadoes and other natural disasters:

  • Rebuild schools and large community structures with at least some portion of the building that is a dome structure
  • If possible, require that new homes are also rebuilt as monolithic domes. If not politically feasible to make it a requirement, provide relief funds, subsidies, and insurance incentives for homes that are rebuilt as domes.
  • Because domes are rebuilt quickly, for areas where people are resistant to having homes in the shape of a dome, they could at the very least be used as temporary structures that then area incorporated into the newly reconstructed home.


2. In pre-existing developments:

  • Provide subsidies to build tornado-resistant dome structures attached to homes that could double as a storage shed, pool-house, etc.


3. For new developments:

  • Require or subsidize the construction of dome-based structures so that even as the population of once-rural areas grows, they will not drastically increase the probability of casualties from tornadoes


Who will take these actions?

Researchers: would test different cement formulations for:

  • reduction or reversal of carbon emissions
  • ability to withstand high winds, fire, water damage, mold, etc.
  • durability over time
  • incorporation of residual ash

 

A coalition of local governments, non-profits, community centers, architects, and educators would then need to work together to bring this use of concrete-shell domes to fruition.


Where will these actions be taken?

They should start in areas recovering from disaster areas or those that are disaster prone and then be phased into new and pre-existing developments as well.


How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

This would depend on the formulation of cement that is used, but it would include saving on the need to ship ash to landfills, the method for formulating and heating the ash, and the potential to actually sequester carbon.


What are other key benefits?


What are the proposal’s costs?


Time line


Related proposals


References

1. "Buildings and Climate Change." United States Green Building Council.http://www.documents.dgs.ca.gov/dgs/pio/facts/LA%20workshop/climate.pdf

2. Lanham, Carol. (2009). School Business Affairs. "Keeping Students Safe: Introducing the Monolithic Dome."http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ919337.pdf

3. Grabar, Henry. (2013). "Could a 2,000-Year-Old Recipe for Cement Be Superior to Our Own?" Atlantic Cities.http://www.theatlanticcities.com/technology/2013/06/could-2000-year-old-recipe-cement-be-superior-our-own/5800

4. Biello, David. (2008). "Cement from CO2: A Concrete Cure for Global Warming?" Scientific American.http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=cement-from-carbon-dioxide