Alabama Habitat House built with sustainable low-carbon technology

Lorraine Davis not only has a new home for her family in Tuscaloosa. She is also on the cutting edge of technology that could help support a lower-carbon future.

Davis’ newly dedicated home, built by Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa, was constructed using concrete and concrete blocks that are also permanently storing carbon dioxide (CO2), thanks to new technology tested in Shelby County at the National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC).

Los Angeles-based CarbonBuilt partnered with Childersburg-based Blair Block and the NCCC to embed CO2 captured from Alabama Power’s Plant Gaston to cure the concrete blocks. The combination of captured carbon and the reduced use of cement in the mix can reduce by more than 60% the carbon footprint of the blocks and other precast concrete products, said the National Ready Mix Concrete Association, a partner in the Habitat build.

The low-carbon concrete used in the home construction adds resiliency that can protect the structure during storms. Like all Habitat Tuscaloosa builds, the Davis home contains a tornado-safe room that meets federal standards.

“We’re thrilled to help contribute to sustainable concrete construction with our high-quality materials across Alabama and along the Gulf Coast,” said Marc Tyson, president of Birmingham-based Ready Mix USA, a CEMEX company, which partnered on the project.

“Concrete homes provide added protection during natural disasters, especially in this area where storms are frequent, and we’re proud to be part of this project that can serve as an example of strength and sustainability for other homes in the region,” Tyson said.

“This home is not only going to make Tuscaloosa history, but it’s going to be a model for sustainable housing,” said CarbonBuilt CEO Rahul Shendure. “We can reduce emissions while building safe, sustainable and energy-efficient homes, and we’re thrilled to be a part of this project with all of the partners.”

Testing of CarbonBuilt’s “Reversa” process, which includes innovations to concrete mix design and the curing process, was completed at the NCCC earlier this year. The test successfully injected into more than 5,000 concrete blocks the COfrom flue-gas streams of the NCCC testing system and Plant Gaston’s coal-fired generating unit. Alabama Power’s parent company, Southern Company, manages and operates the NCCC for the U.S. Department of Energy.

“The testing of CarbonBuilt’s low-carbon concrete process was the first demonstration of COutilization technology by the NCCC,” said John Northington, NCCC director and director of net-zero technologies for Southern Company research and development. “Using CO2 to produce essential, sustainable products like concrete will be an important solution for a net-zero future. It’s especially exciting to see the blocks from our test support Habitat for Humanity in the construction of the Davis home.”

The Reversa process is based on technology developed at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering that received the prestigious 2021 NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE.

The newly built Habitat home was sponsored by Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, which provided most of the volunteer labor from its auto plant in Vance. It is the 91st home completed by Habitat Tuscaloosa since the deadly April 27, 2011, tornadoes that devastated sections of the city. Learn more about Habitat Tuscaloosa here.

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