The Fern Lane renovation serves multiple purposes. The building will become a more comfortable workspace for the EAC’s incredible staff and volunteers. The revamped building will be an example for other green building projects. And the renovation lets green companies strut their stuff.
One such company is CarbonCure, a real Nova Scotian success story. The concrete industry is very carbon-intensive: CarbonCure technology lets concrete manufacturers recycle waste carbon dioxide and produce affordable, green concrete products.
“We really wanted to feature CarbonCure,” EAC Energy Efficiency Co-Ordinator Emma Norton says. “They’re a local startup using really neat technology. And if we’re going to use concrete in the project, we wanted it to be as eco- as possible, as with all our materials.”
The initial hope was to involve CarbonCure for the poured cement in the foundation and slab – but there’s no licensed manufacturer for ready-mixed concrete in Nova Scotia yet. So the EAC instead made use of 60 CarbonCure blocks, supplied by Shaw Brick. The blocks were used to fill old window openings in the foundation.
“The blocks supplied by Shaw are only different from regular blocks in chemical makeup,” explains Scott Biggar, CarbonCure’s Sustainability Manager. “There’s 13 grams of carbon dioxide added to each block at the Shaw plant.”
Here’s the oversimplified version of the process (check out CarbonCure’s website for more detail… seriously, do it – it’s pretty great): waste carbon dioxide is supplied by industrial gas suppliers. It’s added to the concrete mix as a gas, a chemical reaction occurs and the carbon dioxide solidifies and is evenly distributed throughout the block.
“The end product looks the same and weighs the same as regular masonry blocks,” Biggar says, adding there’s no alteration of the block’s compression strength in adding waste carbon dioxide.
Biggar is excited about what lies ahead for CarbonCure.
“Long term, we’d like to establish our first closed-loop scenario. Ideally, we’d work with a cement plant producing a lot of waste, as they’re carbon-intensive, and we’d pull the waste carbon dioxide directly from the plant for use in the cement produced by the plant.”
For now, the EAC will happily (and literally) build on CarbonCure’s innovative blocks as the green renovation at Fern Lane continues.
Story by Tim Roberts, EAC volunteer. Photos by Patrick Jardine and Phoebe Owen.
Article on The Ecology Action Centre’s website can be found here.