Currently, approximately one-third of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are produced by the building sector. In recent years, the notion of carbon-negative building systems has received a substantial amount of attention as the world struggles with the critical problem of climate change and the necessity to decrease carbon emissions. LEKO LABS, a revolutionary startup based in Luxembourg, has become a pioneer in developing carbon-negative building systems and materials to reduce carbon dioxide by 500 megatons.
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Carbon-negative building systems specifically include the utilization of building materials and technology useful in reducing the carbon footprint of the building along with the effective removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This is accomplished by the application of sustainable energy sources, energy-efficient engineering, and carbon capture technology.
The Building Sector – A Major Source of CO2 Emissions
A recent article published in the journal Sustainability has thoroughly studied the carbon emissions from the building industry along with its impact on the environment. The construction industry is accountable for a large amount of energy consumption and emission generation, including greenhouse gas (GHG) releases, carbon emissions, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants. Sources of CO2 emissions in this industry include the energy necessary for the production and transportation of building materials, as well as the treatment of materials, the dumping of waste materials, and the demand for construction equipment. Significantly, the building industry accounts for around 39% of the world's annual CO2 emissions.
Problems with Traditional Building Systems
Traditional construction technologies rely largely on carbon fuels for their energy needs, resulting in substantial carbon emissions. In addition, these systems frequently lack an energy-efficient framework, resulting in increased energy usage and expenses.
In addition, conventional building systems cannot frequently and proactively extract CO2 from the environment. Even if emissions are decreased, the carbon output of the building will remain positive.
Significance of Carbon-Negative Building Systems
Carbon-negative building systems are of the utmost importance since they can help alleviate climate change impacts, particularly contributing to the stagnation of global warming. The carbon-neutral materials and ecologically sustainable designs and technologies efficiently remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Furthermore, Carbon-negative construction can potentially offer massive financial advantages. Utilizing renewable power sources and energy-efficient engineering can result in reduced energy expenditures for housing developers and residents. In addition, the selling of carbon credits could provide additional revenue streams from the implementation of carbon sequestration systems.
Steps for Lower Carbon Emissions
In the Journal of Cleaner Production, several strategies and steps have been described, particularly for the production of low-carbon-emitting building materials and systems. The researchers have used the term Low-carbon Emission Approaches (LEAs) to classify them.
The first strategy involves the utilization of alternative materials. The environmental effect of concrete is closely tied to the manufacturing of clinker, which emits more than 1 ton of carbon dioxide with each ton of material manufactured. Several studies have investigated the possibility of locating supplementary resources for the manufacturing of cement conglomerates or alternate procedures for reducing clinker GHG emissions. Another strategy, based on the idea of the circular economy, tries to use recycled resources, such as demolition debris (construction and demolition waste - CDW) in projects.
Utilizing waste material, such as fly ash and furnace slag, in conjunction with other measures can cut up to 32% of CO2 emissions and up to 80% of the energy used in the manufacturing process. Recovering heat from the building material manufacturing process and reincorporating it back has also contributed to the decrease of greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, the adoption of sustainable power and optimized technologies, as well as emerging solutions such as carbon recycling technology and bio-technological carbon sequestration, have resulted in a significant reduction in the carbon emissions of building systems.
LEKO LABS: A Pioneer of Carbon-Negative Building Systems
With the integration of modern robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), LEKO LABS has truly changed the face of carbon-negative building systems.
Video Credit: LEKO LABS/Youtube.com
The Superior Composite LEKO LABS Structure is constructed to handle the heavy compression stresses of urban multi-story buildings. The technologically advanced walls have enhanced durability, insulation, and acoustical capabilities, along with a 40% decrease in wall thickness, owing to a mix of patented designed timber and integrated insulation. The LEKO LABS structure is capable of withstanding thirty-thousand times its mass, as demonstrated by continuous testing under focused loads. Almost all above-ground steel and concrete in a normal structure may be altered.
Advantages of LEKO LABS Cross-Laminated Timber System
Patented by LEKO LABS, the cross-laminated wood building method is the first in the world to integrate structural and insulating capabilities for thermomechanical, tensile, and static qualities. It also has several advantages over a typical wall, including the incorporation of carbon capture technology and zero emissions during its lifetime. LEKO LABS's sustainably produced wood-based building products solution may substitute up to 75% of concrete and steel in a single structure, resulting in a significant reduction in carbon emissions during construction.
Integrating engineered wood and a completely circular production process, the system delivers not just a sustainable strategy to the building but also allows for up to ten percent more floor area in a given structure. The wall system is also extremely insulating and may lower a building's heating and cooling demands by up to 87% compared to current regulations, while potentially allowing structures to stay carbon neutral throughout their lifetime.
Incorporation of Modern Robotics and AI
LEKO LABS have developed an effective software platform that evaluates and optimizes the construction attributes, eliminating the normal moisture and noise issues associated with timber construction. Its algorithm optimizes each building to reduce wood consumption by up to fifty percent compared to conventional construction, maximizing the utilization of this valuable natural resource.
In addition, by adopting an automotive-style, robotics-driven approach to the manufacture of structures, more may be provided in far less time and with greater quality than with conventional construction methods. This is advantageous not just for construction businesses, but also for workers who can carry out their jobs in a safe and clean atmosphere.
In short, Carbon-negative building systems have significant future potential. Cross-laminated timber (CLT) and mass timber building are anticipated to increase in prevalence. Furthermore, better insulating materials and building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) will result in energy-efficient design and the incorporation of renewable energy. LEKO LABS is expected to be a front-runner in this race for sustainable building systems.
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References and Further Reading
Ahmed Ali K, Ahmad MI, Yusup Y. Issues, Impacts, and Mitigations of Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the Building Sector. Sustainability. 2020. 12(18). 7427. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187427
DeWeerdt, S., 2021. The rise of the carbon-negative building. [Online]
Available at: https://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2020/11/the-rise-of-the-carbon-negative-building/
Leko Labs, 2023. LEKO LABS announces $21 million oversubscribed Series A. [Online]
Available at: https://www.lekolabs.com/
Tomusk, S. 2022. Is Leko Labs the future of carbon neutral construction? [Online] Available at: https://www.placenorthwest.co.uk/