Carbon Capturing

A Black Swans Approach to Residential Homes

When it comes to climate change, in particular the risk presented by the unprecedented amplification of CO2 into the atmosphere, even the most optimistic among us would agree that a slim 0.000001% risk of disaster is a risk not worth taking for the planet, ourselves or our loved ones present and future. After all, we only have one planet to call home.

Elon Musk recently valued the price of carbon at $50,000 per tonne and announces a total of $100m prize purse for anyone who can capture 1,000 tonnes of carbon within 4 year as part of his XPrize Carbon Capturing project, perhaps it is time to calculate the true cost of our residential homes.

A typical new residential home in Australia has around 70 tonnes of embodied CO2 and new residential constructions total around 33,000 per year, representing a staggering 2,310,000 tonnes annually.

The reason for such a high CO2 implication is because the new home residential market is dominated by the top 8 “project home” builders that manufacture low quality, high volume products of comparable specification and cost. The emphasis of the build is speed v cost and the builds are driven from a high volume and low margin prospective.

"Negative Carbon Homes are Better Quality"

The cost of a typical 235m2 new residential home in Australia is between $200k and $400k, and this is delivered mainly by the highly competitive residential building market where owners secure a parcel of land and then select an off the self design from a preferred builder, usually displaying their completed homes on exhibition. However, what is not advertised is the fact that average new residential home in Australia has an embodied CO2 footprint of around 60 to 70 tonnes of Co2 per house.

Embodied CO2 is the quantity of carbon that is released into the atmosphere as a consequence of the manufacturing process for an item or product. Residential homes typically include concrete footings with polystyrene void former slabs, steel frames, metal roofing, plasterboard internal linings and porcelain tiles. A list of materials we may perceive as innocent at first sight, however, when we look at the CO2 implications for these materials we can see a different story.

"Creating World Class, Revolutionary Carbon Capturing Homes"

Daniel Roberts Newcastle Provides Road Map to Negative Carbon Homes

Building Material Quantity Embodied Co2

Reinforced Concrete Slab 60m3 12,960 kg

Polystyrene Void Formers 300kg 1,110kg

Cold Rolled Steel Frame 20t 24,000kg

Cavity Brick Wall 40t 9,200kg

Metal Roofing 2.4m3 3,000kg

Aluminum Windows 50m2 8,000kg

Internal Linings 600m2 1,900kg

Internal & External Doors 350kg

Glasswool insulation 150kg 200kg

Paint 100kg 215kg

Plumbing and electrical allow 450kg

Other, driveway, flashings etc allow 8,000kg

Total 69,385kg

Considering the current price of carbon of $50,000 per tonne, the implication of the typical steel framed, project home is around $3,500,000 to $4,000,000 based on a reasonable 70 to 80 tonnes of embodied CO2, this is 10% the initial $200k to $400k cost of purchasing the home from one of the top 8 house builders.

The quality of our questions determines the quality of our lives, perhaps it is time to re-think how we approach our new homes and ask....

Is there a better solution?

Can we live in a home that is both functional and does not cost the earth?

This is precisely the question that Daniel Roberts aims to answer and has been a student of sustainable construction techniques for over 18 years and has authored research articles into embodied energy. Leading a small team of innovators, Daniel Roberts, a Newcastle based Property Developer has innovated Australia's first, medium scale, low embodied CO2 homes and has plans to produce negative, carbon capturing homes before the end of 2021.

Daniel and his team plan to scale up their unique and revolutionary homes that have between zero and minus 20 tonnes of embodied CO2 captured within the build. A transformation of over 90 tonnes from the baseline set by the 8 leading house builders.

"Completed Hemp Houses, Newcastle NSW"

Daniel has over 18 years experience with residential and commercial construction and explains that it is almost impossible to converting all new homes to zero carbon from their current model. The top 8 house builders dominate the supply of over 22,000 new homes per year and their business model is based on time and cost controls. Building teams work on tight rates, schedules and there is no place or reward for innovation in the area of embodied CO2, after all, why would a client pay for innovation?

Innovation is for the visionaries that can see what clients want and not what they are buying. Daniel explains that there is no functional difference between a low embodied energy home and that of a toxic CO2 gas house. In-fact, low embodied energy homes are better quality, they have softer and more durable finishes. More natural tones and functionally are a safe, greener and a more attractive environment.

A typical carbon capturing home shall feature exposed timber linings, breathable monolithic hemp facades, recycled timber, natural stone and saunas. With over 18 years experience, Daniel appreciates that the method of approach determines the outcome when it comes to any build. Daniel says the numbers speak for themselves and has a plan for the next 4 years that shall make Elon Musk ambitious plan look easy.

Daniel confirms that the key to success is lack of competition, when you start from zero, it is easy to get it right. When we shift the value from $ to CO2 implication, there are no winners until the problem is resolved. Daniel encourages all builders to be bold and confidently accept the challenge to convert their builds into a sustainable, low or reduced CO2 project. When you shift the paradigm, everyone wins.

Daniel suggests that major reason for such a heavy CO2 load by the top 8 house builders is lack of focus on the implication of their products, its obvious that their builds are toxic, the materials are well documented and they have list of dangerous and toxic materials, registers and procedures. The solution looks like absence of the problem, if we don’t fill our new houses with poison during the build, they shall be clean. Unfortunately, when our values are backwards and we believe time is money, we lose sight of the consequence of our actions.

Daniel reports that his forecasts are for more than 2,000 tonnes of carbon capturing with his team of entrepreneurs and investors over then next 3 developments scheduled between 2021 and 2025. Before earth day 2025 Daniel is banking on success and believes that he is creating a new carbon capturing property market, homes that are without comparison, clean and without the dangerous implication of the CO2 dice we are all familiar.

Daniel did not stop there, he outlines that his home have indoor grow gardens, intelligent landscapes with vertical grow beds and indoor planting. Like any good solution, they compound and get easier in time, our homes aim to be an example to all Australian builders, Daniels homes are open for inspection, a working template and example for others to understand the ease of low and negative CO2 future.

When it comes to strategy, Daniel preaches a win, win, win approach to life, if everyone needs are not met plus the planet, we all lose. Daniel believes it is time to unite as an industry and focus on clean, sustainable and low impact homes.

If you would like to discover how to create a zero carbon or carbon capturing home, contact Daniel Roberts today.

Up and coming Meetups here.