Earth Day Reflections on Moving the Needle

Solidia Technologies' CO2-cured concrete.

Solidia Technologies' CO2-cured concrete.

Earth Day inspires equal parts anxiety and gratitude at YUI+Company. We are far too aware of the work that needs to be done and what needs to be undone to help save our planet. To move the needle, humanity needs a giant leap forward. At YUI+Company, we are lucky to count ourselves among those who can say they are taking part in that leap. We work with a green cement and concrete start-up, Solidia Technologies®, and they’re trying to change the world. That might sound hyperbolic, but it isn’t. Production of cement is responsible for 3-5% of global carbon dioxide emissions, which places it as the second largest CO2-emitter in the world. In both scale and scope, Solidia also offers one of the few viable solutions to the world’s CO2 problem with a material that is second only to water in its omnipresence. Shifting this industry does mean saving the planet.

Working with a client like Solidia is a powerful privilege. Cement and concrete are used everywhere and by everyone. In addition to reducing emissions, Solidia creates a market for captured CO2, addressing both sides of the carbon coin. This kind of work is something to be joyful for. Not only will this technology lower the carbon footprint of cement and concrete, it saves producers time and money. As Solidia’s innovative and very practical CEO and President Tom Schuler always says “make it better, then make it green.” In other words, to scale a sustainable technology, make it smart business.

Solidia provides two core technologies: a cement technology, which can be produced in traditional cement kilns and reduces greenhouse gas emissions during manufacture by 30-40%; and a concrete curing technology that permanently and safely consumes another 240 kg of CO2, leaving 3-5% of the finished product weight as solid CO2. The water used to form the concrete products can be reclaimed for future concrete manufacturing. Worldwide adoption could save one trillion liters of water per year. Produced with a non-hydraulic, lower-energy and lower-emission chemistry, Solidia Cement™ is more sustainable than OPC. CO2-cured Solidia Concrete™ performs better, is more durable and cost-effective than traditional concretes, and typically gains full strength in 24 hours versus the 28 days required of traditional concrete.

Solidia’s technology addresses an urgent business and societal need while profitably supporting an industry seeking to improve production methods that haven’t changed much in over 200 years, making the sector an attractive target for disruption. The Cement Sustainability Initiative of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development set 2050 CO2 reduction targets for the global cement industry. Solidia's technology package will enable the cement and concrete industry to meet the WBCSD 2050 goal well ahead of the target deadline. By adding value, Solidia is making adopting a sustainable innovation a no-brainer for industry.

Supporting start-ups can be daunting, but Solidia’s mission and vision is noble and, more importantly, achievable—thereby incredibly rewarding for those of us lucky enough to be on the team. Disruption for disruption’s sake is not enough. Disruption for profit is not enough. Disruption with immense barriers to adoption is not enough. Disruption for good, truly global good that moves the needle, is what we’re after.

The YUI+Company Team