Energy department awards $39 million to create greener buildings
July 4, 2022 | 8:44 am CDT

Penn will receive $2.4 million in funding to research turning buildings into carbon storage structures.

The Department of Energy recently awarded $39 million in grant funding to 18 universities and labs across the United States that are working to cut down the carbon footprint of various construction materials. The labs are trying to create replacements for things like concrete, wood, insulation, and paneling.

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,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “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 (GHG) 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. The following teams —representing universities, private companies and national laboratories — are set to develop and demonstrate building materials and net carbon negative whole-building designs. While this is a snapshot of the selectees, please check out the full list and detailed HESTIA project descriptions.

  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Golden, CO High-Performing Carbon-Negative Concrete Using Low Value Byproducts from Biofuels Production - $1,749,935
  • Texas A&M University Hempcrete 3D Printed Buildings for Sustainability and Resilience - $3,742,496
  • University of Colorado, Boulder A Photosynthetic Route to Carbon-Negative Portland Limestone Cement Production - $3,193,063
  • University at Buffalo Modular Design and Additive Manufacturing of Interlocking Superinsulation Panel from Bio-based Feedstock forAutonomous Construction - $2,179,852
  • University of Pennsylvania High-Performance Building Structure with 3D-Printed Carbon Absorbing Funicular Systems –$2,407,390
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Fairbanks, AK Celium: Cellulose-Mycelium Composites for Carbon Negative Buildings/Construction- $2,476,145
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory – Richland, WA The Circular Home: Development and Demonstration of a Net-Negative-Carbon, Reusable Residence - $2,627,466
  • Oregon State University Cellulose Cement Composite (C3) for Residential and Commercial Construction - $2,500,000
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory – Oak Ridge, TN Renewable, Carbon-negative Adhesives for OSB and Other Engineered Woods - $1,098,000
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison Carbon-Negative Ready-Mix Concrete Building Components Through Direct Air Capture - $2,256,250
  • Northeastern University C2B: Century-scale Carbon-sequestration in Cross-laminated Timber Composite Bolted-steel Buildings - $3,150,000
  • Purdue University Strong and CO2 Consuming Living Wood for Buildings - $958,245
  • University of Tennessee Lignin-derived Carbon Storing Foams for High Performance Insulation - $2,557,383
  • Clemson University An Entirely Wood Floor System Designed for Carbon Negativity, Future Adaptability, and End of LifeDe/re/Construction - $1,042,934
  • Aspen Products Group – Marlborough, Mass. High Performance, Carbon Negative Building Insulation - $1,152,476
  • BamCore – Ocala, Fla. Maximizing Carbon Negativity in Next Generation Bamboo Framing Materials - $2,230,060
  • SkyNano – Knoxville, Tenn. CO2mposite: Recycling of CO2, Carbon Fiber Waste, and Biomaterials into Composite Panels for Lower EmbodiedCarbon Building Materials - $2,000,000
  • Biomason – Durham, N.lC. Soteria -- Carbon Negative Bioconcrete Unit Production Concept - $1,812,11


Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.