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CarbonQuest to install building scale carbon capture in NY high rises

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CarbonQuest’s technology marks a new way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. The use of point-source carbon removal on residential buildings, rather than potentially inefficient air capture, puts carbon removal on a new path.

  • CarbonQuest’s modular buildings CO2 removals solution provides a new approach to the management of buildings related energy consumption – today up to 37% of global energy demand.
  • Glenwood believes the use of CarbonQuest’s proprietary CO2 removal process will eliminate the risk of CO2 related fines of up to $15m to 2034 under new NY regulations.
  • While the market for CarbonQuest’s resulting CO2 could prove volatile, the removal of the CO2 from the built environment has huge potential.

The large-scale technology installation is designed to prevent up to 5,000 tons of total emissions per year across five buildings owned by Glenwood Properties, involving 2.5 million square feet of residential space.

The installations at these buildings — which include The Fairmont (300 East 75th Street), The Bristol (300 East 56th Street), The Paramount Tower (240 East 39th Street), The Barclay (1755 York Avenue) and The Somerset (1365 York Avenue) — come on the heels of the success of Glenwood’s pilot project with CarbonQuest at The Grand Tier (1930 Broadway), which is the first commercially operational building carbon capture project on the market.

How does the carbon removal technology work?

Using CarbonQuest’s proprietary emission-reduction process, CO2 is captured from building flue exhaust before it ever has the chance to escape as a greenhouse gas. Subsequent to this initial capture, the CO2 undergoes a multi-stage process that separates and captures CO2, producing an end product of liquid CO2 stored securely in a bulk tank.

CarbonQuest then sells its “Sustainable CO2” to other companies focused on carbon use and sequestration, including those that mineralise carbon in concrete and concrete aggregates manufacturing. A large portion of the Sustainable CO2 generated at the Glenwood buildings will be sold to NYC-based masonry firm and block producer Glenwood Mason Supply (unaffiliated with Glenwood Management), where the CO2 will be sequestered permanently in concrete blocks.

CarbonQuest also says it is in the process of forming partnerships with other CO2 offtakers, who would use the recycled Sustainable CO2 in their own carbon-intensive processes.

What is carbon removal at the building level important?

Buildings play a significant role in emissions, through their construction and use. The UNEP-hosted Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GABC) said in its 2022 status report that operational emissions from the built environment increased by 5% in 2021, compared to 2020 levels.

With a number of countries at COP27  calling for a Buildings Breakthrough for ‘Near zero emissions and resilient buildings’ as the new normal by 2030, there are likely to be increasing regulation around buildings related emissions in the coming years. This is going to be especially important given the role that buildings play in increasing energy demand. In Europe, for example, the buildings sector represents 40% of Europe’s energy demand, 80% of which is generated from fossil fuels.

“Studies have shown that the building sector is a significant contributor to climate change, and federal and city legislation are both incentivizing technology that can drive emissions reduction at a building level,” said Josh London, Senior Vice President at Glenwood Management.

“With the success of our first CarbonQuest system at 1930 Broadway, we are excited to roll out the technology to more of our portfolio, leveraging carbon capture alongside other technologies to reduce our emissions and gain compliance with local regulations.”

CarbonQuest’s systems are expected help Glenwood prevent thousands of tons of building CO2 emissions each year. The company said that the technology is particularly timely in light of New York City’s Local Law 97, which will begin to penalise buildings based on their CO2 emissions in 2024.

Based on their current carbon usage, Glenwood’s properties would incur roughly $7 million in penalties between 2024 and 2029, followed by $15 million in penalties in the years ranging from 2030 to 2034;  the use of CarbonQuest’s systems is expected to reduce exposure to the new line and eliminate the risk of those fines entirely.

Understanding point source carbon removal at a building scale

While CarbonQuest has the potential to provide significant value to building owners, the modular product also presents a unique approach that can dramatically increase the global capacity of “point-source” carbon capture.

Historically, point-source carbon capture systems were used exclusively at power plants and other large industrial facilities that benefitted from an abundance of space, an absence of tenant activity, and often, significant capital to dedicate to energy and carbon reduction.

By introducing point source capture at the building level, CarbonQuest is helping to transform the building decarbonisation landscape, fostering opportunities for emissions reduction from property owners of any sizable commercial, residential or institutional building, thereby dramatically expanding the potential environmental impact of the technology.

The carbon capture process at each property will also be coupled with the deployment of CarbonQuest’s Carbon Management Software providing real-time data and analytics to track the capture of the CO2 and its delivery to the customers in real time. CarbonQuest software will also verify, measure and report CO2 emissions to third party verifiers, auditors, and regulators.

There has been growing interest in air capture for CO2 given the enormous task of achieving a net zero economy by 2050. Introducing the potential to removal CO2 during the in-use phase of buildings could be a game-changer.

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