Transforming Carbon into Building Blocks
According to Architecture 2030, the built environment is responsible for 40% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each year. Founder & Director of Formwork IO Antonio Ng is an architect with experience in major sustainable architectural projects in Europe, Asia and the United States. He believes the building and construction industry can do more carbon reduction through wider adoption of sustainable building materials. The building and construction industry has so far mainly focused on reducing operational carbon, which is the amount of carbon emitted when the building is in-use. However, more can be done to cut embodied carbon emission, which mainly refers to the emissions from manufacturing, transporting, and disposing of material. Ng elaborates on the difference between the two, “Operational carbon can be lowered through energy efficiency upgrades, while embodied carbon is locked in once the construction has been completed.” High impact materials such as concrete, steel and aluminium are major contributors to global CO2 emissions. To alleviate CO2 emission, Formwork IO has developed building materials that are able to store carbon. This process is done through a material science technique they refer to as "carbon sequestration". In other words, their products recycle and store carbon, thereby reducing emission from the built environment.
Visionary Foresight of CCG and HKSTP
Formwork IO has attained carbon neutrality with its second prototype and now working on a carbon-negative prototype. Once the mass production has been kickstarted, the team will discuss with CCG selecting a potential testing site to test and prove the effectiveness of its paving blocks. Ng praises CCG Accel as Hong Kong’s first pilot-first accelerator and truly understands the major challenges faced by tech ventures. “Unlike software-based innovations that are simpler to prototype and test, technologies designed for the built environment would need to be stress-tested in different scenarios for them to work in any environment, rain or shine.” The solution is expected to have a positive impact on reducing carbon emissions, supporting CCG’s goal of reducing 20% of Scope 3 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 2023. The resulting installation will become one of the start-up’s first use cases, propelling its products towards mass-scale commercialisation.
Antonio Ng, Founder & Director of Formwork IO