Locking up carbon in building materials

A few months ago I looked at negative emission technologies, and the various ways to draw CO2 out of the atmosphere. Lots of work is going into machines that can absorb CO2 from the air, but we are surrounded by natural negative emission devices already: trees. One of the most straightforward carbon storage strategies is to let trees absorb carbon, and then make things out of the wood. When wood is made into furniture or into buildings, that carbon is locked up for the life of the object.

It’s not just trees and timber either. There are lots of ways we can lock up carbon in biomass. Modcell is a company that makes modular eco-buildings. They aim to create carbon neutral buildings by storing carbon in timber frames and cladding, straw insulation, hemp, and compressed straw board.

How much carbon can you store that way? Real World Visuals recently came up with a visualisation of how much CO2 could be banked in a simple wooden cabin. With each bubble representing a kilo of CO2, here’s the result:


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