Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $39 million in awards for 18 projects seeking to develop technologies that can transform buildings into net carbon storage structures. Led by DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), selectees for the Harnessing Emissions into Structures Taking Inputs from the Atmosphere (HESTIA) program will prioritize overcoming barriers associated with carbon-storing buildings, including scarce, expensive and geographically limited building materials. Decarbonization goals for the HESTIA program mirror President Biden’s plan to reach zero emissions by 2050 and aim to increase the total amount of carbon stored in buildings to create carbon sinks, which absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than released during the construction process.

“There’s huge, untapped potential in reimagining building materials and construction techniques as carbon sinks that support a cleaner atmosphere and advance President Biden’s national climate goals,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said in a press release. “This is a unique opportunity for researchers to advance clean energy materials to tackle one of the hardest to decarbonize sectors that is responsible for roughly 10% of total annual emissions in the United States.”

Greenhouse gas emissions associated with material manufacturing and construction, renovation, and disposal of buildings at the end of their service life are concentrated at the start of a building’s lifetime, making them essential to address given the urgency of meeting national energy and environmental challenges.

In addition to the HESTIA program, ARPA-E recently announced $5 million in funding through the HESTIA Exploratory Topic to two universities working to develop the necessary life cycle assessment tools and frameworks associated with transforming buildings into net carbon storage structures.

For more information about some of the teams involved in developing and demonstrating building materials and net carbon negative whole-building designs, CLICK HERE.