Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
KANW is a member of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serves the Western states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Our mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues across the Mountain West.From land and water management to growth in the expanding West to our unique culture and heritage, we'll explore the issues that define us and the challenges we face.

Could new building techniques and materials pave the way for reducing carbon emissions?

A large building is shown being under construction. It's mostly metal scaffolding on the outside of the boxy, rectangular building.
Courtesy Las Vegas Medical District
A building at UNLV's Kerkorian School of Medicine is shown while it is under construction. Many Western states are looking to reduce their carbon footprint, and examining how buildings — particularly government buildings — are built using sustainable materials and carbon-capture methods was the topic of discussion at a recent Western Governors' Association workshop.

The Western Governors’ Association has been holding a series of discussions aimed at developing new methods and policies to “Decarbonize the West.” These include developing ways to reduce, use and capture carbon.

The Decarbonizing the West workshops are focused on developing policies and strategies for Western states. One of the most significant efforts is looking at how government buildings have been built.

CarbonCure Technologies, a Canada-based company, has developed a method of reducing carbon output from buildings. Vice President, Chris Davis explained the company's “carbon cure” process.

“Think of cake batter, that’s the concrete," he said. "And the flour that goes into the cake batter is the cement. So cement is really the key component in the concrete process that creates all the greenhouse gas emissions. It’s where climate impact for concrete lives."

The process of injecting the CO2 in the early stages results in carbon mineralization, allowing for less cement material and lower carbon emissions while allowing carbon to be captured and stored indefinitely.

David Hildebrandt with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory said efforts to move toward greener options must include refining policies and creating value for industries that opt to be early adaptors and use less carbon.

“In the near term, we’re looking at ways to be able to reduce the energy demand and the cost of making CO2 neutral fuels and chemicals," Hildebrandt said. "In the intermediate term, we’re looking at how we can actually put CO2 into building materials and at least be able to sequester it for a hundred years.”

The Western Governors’ Association is expected to release their recommendations by June.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Yvette Fernandez is the regional reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau. She joined Nevada Public Radio in September 2021.