This Is CDR is an ongoing series of online events to explore the range of carbon dioxide removal solutions that are currently in development. After a couple of weeks examining the legal and ethical complexities of CDR, we’re back in the tech space with an exciting presentation about Urban Sequoia, a proposal to reinvent the urban built environment into a network for absorbing carbon.
Presenting the project are Yasemin Kologlu and Aaron Zeligs of the urban planning firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. As they explain, Urban Sequoia evolved from the question of whether green architecture could progress beyond efficient low-emission buildings to buildings that are actively carbon-negative. Taking inspiration from natural environments, these buildings could integrate carbon removal in a number of ingenious ways, from building direct air capture units into HVAC systems to using mineralized carbon as a building material. They could even grow microalgae in external tubes in order to provide heat and biofuel – not to mention a nice verdant look! That last idea might sound like science fiction, but Aaron notes that at least one company is already doing it.
Carbon-negative buildings like those proposed by Urban Sequoia are fun to think about, but they’re also very likely to become necessary as the 21st century progresses. As Yasemin points out, we’re projected to double the urban built area on Earth by 2060. That’s a lot of new construction. Wouldn’t it be great if these vast new developments were acting more like forests than like coal plants? To learn more about how this future can become reality, please watch Yasemin and Aaron’s fascinating talk, and be sure to check back next week for more This Is CDR. For more, you can watch the whole This Is CDR series on our resources page.