The Clean Tech News
Building the Future: Passive Homes and Net Zero Houses

Home is where the heart of energy efficiency is. Passive homes and net zero houses are the future of the UK’s housing sector.
To reduce carbon emissions in the home, there is more to do than remembering to turn the light off once you leave a room or filling up the food waste bin. For poorly insulated homes and those suffering from damp or mould, residents spend money on heating the property, which is wasted.

In 2008, the European Parliament agreed on an action plan:

Energy Efficiency: Realising the Potential. In this agreement, the members accepted that European carbon emissions needed to be cut to prevent global temperatures rising.

Building energy efficient structures is one way to do this. The European Commission set 2020 as the deadline for all new homes being built, and must be of the highest energy efficiency standard possible.

A report by the Committee on Climate Change last year concluded that the UK has not made good progress, as energy use across the UK’s 29m homes accounted for 14% of all of the countries emissions 2016-2017.

Additionally, it is presently unclear as to how the Coronavirus will impact this goal.

Recently, CleanTech News identified the great strides being made by Carbicrete, a Canadian startup manufacturing a non-pollutant form of cement, which is contributing to a reduction in carbon emissions.

There are other companies which are finding innovative ways to future-proof new buildings. Two terms one will hear interchangeably around the subject of home energy efficiency are “net zero” and “passive” homes.

Net Zero Homes:
The World Green Building Council launched Advancing Net Zero in 2018, a plan to ensure that all buildings are net zero by 2050.

A net zero building is one which produces all of the energy which it uses. For example, it has enough solar panels to satisfy the energy demands of those living in the home.

Such a house should not be confused with passive houses.

Passive Houses:
A passive home is one which is built, or adapted, to be energy efficient, one which will prevent heat from escaping the building in winter and keep it cool in the summer.

Energy escapes from buildings with poor insulation, which leads to more energy being used to replace what is lost and thus, more carbon emissions and waste.

A passive house is not patented and can be built by aspiring exterior designers or professionals.

What is the difference between Passive and Net Zero Homes?
A passive house and net zero energy home are not quite the same thing; in building a net zero energy home, the architect’s ambition is to create a balance between the energy used and the energy created.

However, a passive house is primarily concerned with the temperature comfort of its inhabitants and the environmental benefits of such efficiency.

There are some companies who are concerned with the housing sectors slow progress, and plan to capitalise on the move towards sustainable housing.

The EcoCocon answer
A 100 m2 EcoCocon home can be built in just one day, from straw with an airtight seal over the top, which prevents draughts of hot or cold air.

However, an EcoCocon house is not automatically a passive one: this depends on variables such as the windows and roof insulation chosen by the buyer.

An Iconic move forward
Icon, a startup based in Austin, USA, recognises that home-building is “inefficient and wasteful” and lacks sustainability.

By using an almost science-fiction form of 3D printing, Icon can create tiny homes at a fraction of the environmental cost and for a lower price.

Their mission is to support the millions of people living in unsafe housing around the world.

Australian startup H2X on the cleantech track

It’s been used since the 1970’s, but the renewable energy is gaining momentum. So what’s all the fuss about hydrogen?
It may be best known for the hilarious party balloons which turn voices squeaky, or less favourably, for the 1937 Hindenburg disaster. Yet, hydrogen is a remarkable renewable energy, which has staggering potential.

A natural molecule comprised of two atoms, hydrogen is the lightest element on the periodic table and is the most abundant element of all.

In hydrogen vehicles, for example, there is a fuel cell, in which the element reacts with oxygen, making electricity, which runs the vehicle. Instead of emitting carbon dioxide, as fuel-powered cars do, hydrogen vehicles emit only harmless water vapour.

What can hydrogen do?
Hydrogen energy can power vehicles and buildings, in many cases, just as fossil fuels do, but without emitting greenhouse gasses which are harmful to humans and to our atmosphere.

Furthermore, there is also speculation in the maritime industry, that hydrogen could power freighter ferries.

These stadium sized cargo ships are the reason seasonal fruit is available year round and what gets fast fashion items around the world so quickly. But these ferries produce almost 3% of the planet’s carbon dioxide emissions and an alternative is needed if the ozone layer is to be saved.

How is renewable hydrogen produced?
At present, 95% of hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels. However, wind and solar energy can also create the element.

Hydrogen is a popular Australian export (where, unfortunately, so is coal), as the country has a high availability of solar and wind power to make renewable hydrogen.

Australian startup H2X has taken advantage of the abundance of the sun to create hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, powered by solar energy, produced in Australia and exported around the world.

H2X’s first vehicle (the ironically named Snowy) will be launched in 2022. There are also plans to create other models of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, such as taxis and tractors.

The startup was funded by Elvin Group and Denzo Limited and the H2X’s car plant will be constructed in Port Kembla (97km south of Sydney), which will bring employment to the area.

The local dock is large enough to transport cars onto cargo ships, but there is no word yet, on whether the freighter ferries which carry them to their future drivers, will also be powered by hydrogen.

Hydrogen energy in action
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics has been postponed because of the Coronavirus, but the committee had planned several events around carbon dioxide free, hydrogen technology.

When the opening and closing ceremonies do happen, the Olympic cauldron will be fuelled by hydrogen and parts of the torch relay are also going to use hydrogen fuel.

Furthermore, Japanese car manufacturer Toyota (the Olympics mobility sponsor), will provide 500 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, to transport Olympic officials around the venues throughout the Games.

As hydrogen is the most plentiful element in the universe, with no harmful consequences to our atmosphere when utilised as an energy, H2X certainly looks like it’s on the road to succes.

For more information on hydrogen fuel, please see here.

CleanTech News’ Top Ten Startup Accelerators

How these ten accelerators are leading the cleantech revolution.
Although the technologies themselves tend to dominate public discourse, startup accelerators play an equally crucial role in driving the ‘cleantech revolution’. Nurturing and encouraging the growth of the most innovative, cutting-edge cleantech companies, today we bring you our top ten CleanTech Accelerators.

  1. AT&T Aspire Accelerator
    With an overarching mission of “inspiring human progress through the power of communication and entertainment”, AT&T uses their Aspire accelerators to work with organisations that use technology to support community and education.

AT&T have a marked social responsibility towards emissions reduction and utilising renewable energy, aiming to enable carbon savings 10 times the footprint of their operations by 2025.

As a part of their AT&T Aspire initiative, the accelerator provides aspire investment, a national platform, a customised programme, flexible location and focussed mentorship. Hosting a $1m Skills Building Challenge to locate and accelerate eight startups annually.

  1. Greentown Labs
    As the largest incubator in North America, Greentown Labs aims to provide cleantech startups with the support they need to flourish, as a community of bold, passionate entrepreneurs creating solutions for today’s biggest climate and environmental challenges.

In addition to the accelerator programme, Greentown Labs’ non-profit sister company FORGE connects startups with manufacturers, which to this day has facilitated over 1000 connection. Not only this, but Greentown Launch also connects startups with effective partners, fast-tracking technology-to-market lead times.

On a mission to establish a community to solve climate and environmental challenges, Greentown Labs is home to more than 100 startups and has supported over 250. Collectively, the accelerator has created more than 6,500 jobs and has raised more than $750m in funds.

  1. Shell Foundation Incubator

Source: Shell Foundation
Focussing on access to energy and sustainable mobility, the Shell Foundation Incubator creates and scales business solutions to these issues, concentrating their efforts in Africa and Asia to prevent hindrance to sustainable development.

Providing ‘high touch business support’, Shell combine business and development expertise to supply their portfolio with strategic guidance and support. A focus on sustainability led to 75-80% of their grants supporting initiatives that are progressing to scale and sustainability.

Investing in early-stage ventures, the program is “focussed on identifying potential game-changers: pioneers of brand new categories of products and services.” With a six-stage market growth formula, the Shell Foundation Incubator accelerates social innovation and builds inclusive markets in challenging locations.

  1. Elemental Excelerator
    By nurturing cleantech innovation, Elemental Excelerator accelerates solutions to climate change and deploys them where they are needed most. This programme invests to improve the systems that impact people’s lives. This includes energy, water, food & agriculture, mobility and the circular economy.

Taking on between 15-20 startups annually, with up to $1m funding each, Elemental Excelerator now has 99 portfolio companies, 59 demonstrates projects and has awarded $36m to companies to aid growth.

Every day the accelerator works towards rapidly deploying solutions to meet the challenges that climate change poses – in addition to social and economic challenges, also.

  1. Black & Veatch IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator
    Committing to a minimum of $250,000 in grants and services, Black & Veatch works closely with startup companies to accelerate innovative growth to scale solutions to save lives, support communities and strengthen the economy.

With a sustainable outlook, the employee-owned company use their expertise with the intention to reshape industry and society to reveal innovation in sustainable infrastructure.

By partnering with startups focused on renewable and distributed energy, mobility, agricultural technology and machine learning/AI, Black & Veatch are helping the world move towards a sustainable future faster.

For more information about the work of Black & Veatch, see here.

  1. Powerhouse Incubator
    With the determination to back entrepreneurs to build the future of energy and mobility, the Powerhouse connects startups, corporations and investors to the end of building a decarbonised, democratised and digitized energy and mobility system.

Through investing in seed-stage startups, Powerhouse is changing the way we power our world. Their four “C” formula of connection, capital, community and co-working nurtures growing cleantech startups to revolutionise the approach to the climate crisis by deploying market-based solutions.

  1. Techstars – mobility, sustainability, energy
    Managing Director, Aundun Abelsnes, looks for “great teams that are intellectually honest, coachable, and that demonstrate fierce execution skills,” in this cleantech accelerator that seeks for innovative startups in the energy sector.

Striving for advances in the four critical areas of the energy sector (oil and gas, new business models, digitisation, and renewables), this accelerator believes that entrepreneurs can change the world, combined with the innovation of collaboration.

Selecting over 500 early-stage companies each year to join one of their three-month programmes, the companies oversees multiple accelerating programmes. Through these, 2,157 companies have found success alongside Techstars, with a total of 9.3bn in[MOU1] funding.

  1. CITRIS Foundry

Source: CITRIS Foundry
The CITRIS Foundry Innovation Incubator is on a mission to innovation, diversity and creation. With 468 VC-backed startups from alumni since 2010, the accelerator offers over $30,000 of infrastructure and services to its startups.

This programme from the University of California leverages resources and expertise globally, and from their innovation ecosystem, to support new ventures, social enterprises and tech transfer pathways to influence industries.

With a six month accelerated programme, taking on two cohorts per year, the incubator facilitates growth through providing a community, coach and the necessary business resources.

  1. Urban-X
    Every six months, Urban-X selects up to ten urbantech startups, investing around $150,000 per company. With an immersive 20 week programme, the accelerator is unique for its expertise in urbantech challenges meaning there is no issue they are ill-equipped to resolve.

With an investment offering, design resources, deployment and global exposure, Urban-X has a portfolio of transportation, utilities and real estate innovation.

  1. LACI
    This CleanTech incubator is creating an inclusive green economy by accelerating innovation, transforming markets and enhancing communities. Working with around 30-40 companies each year, LACI has three programmes from startups to their Founders Business Accelerator, all aimed at raising funding and gaining market traction.

Although they do not provide grants to their startups, they provide the invaluable resources of applicant collaboration and support in an innovation hub. Defining cleantech as “products or services that advance sustainable or efficient use of resources,” in its first five years, LACI incubated 67 companies which raised $134M in funds.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: sustainable ideas for plastic

Plastic waste takes centuries to decompose, but innovators are finding new ways for plastic to take on a new life, instead of being thrown away.
Plastic waste facts
Plastic is one of the most useful human inventions in history; it’s lighter than glass or metal, is washable, mouldable and strong.

From toys to healthcare, kitchenware to sports, it’s difficult to imagine planet Earth without it, yet plastic was only invented in 1907.

Single-use plastics, like straws and shopping bags, are used for a few minutes, then discarded – taking hundreds of years to decompose.

But change is coming; Australian teenager, Angeline Arora, has created a bioplastic which is made out of prawns and biodegrades in 33 days. Not suitable for vegans.

In addition to climate change, humanity is faced with what to do with the growing number of once-used plastic clogging up the world.

Instead of letting items rot away, these creators have found alternative methods for creating useful items, without at a cost to the planet…

The war on plastic waste
This week, CleanTech News reported on Indian startup, ReCube, which is taking on the “disease” of plastic waste, by offering accessible solutions.
Another innovative Indian, Prashant Lingam, has found a similar solution for the high volume of single-use plastic waste plaguing Hyderabad, by employing locals to select suitable waste from rubbish pits and grinding it down ready to mould. The homes Lingam was able to manufacture were too expensive for most locals to afford, but Lingam proposed to the city council his pedestrian walkways, constructed from millions of minced up plastic bags.
Although sadly now closed, EcoDomum was a startup based in Mexico, that collected plastic waste, minced it down into shards and moulded them back together to use as the building blocks in creating affordable homes.
With such startups and innovators as these, the war on plastic waste looks like one humanity might win.

Instead of governments dumping plastic waste in the ocean or people chucking their empty bottle out of the car window, some are thinking out of the -plastic- box and finding solutions where humanity can live with the waste, in a way which doesn’t not harm the earth or the sea.

The future of housing for planet earth
With the human population growing year on year and affordable, comfortable housing becoming less available, is it possible to design low-cost homes which help the planet, by vacuuming up discarded plastic?

But by 2100, the global population is set to decline down from 8bn, which will leave more concrete homes empty and available at lower prices.

However, on the fringes of scientific speculation, some believe that the climate crisis will have left much of Earth uninhabitable by 2100 and some humans will be living off-planet by the end of the century. So perhaps recycled plastic will be a cheap and accessible solution.

Sustainable brand Coral Eyewear announces partnership with British Formula E driver Alexander Sims

Racing driver Alexander Sims gets behind British startup, Coral Eyewear, which uses discarded fishing nets for their frames.
Coral Eyewear, an innovative start-up brand crafting beautifully designed glasses frames from waste plastic and abandoned fishing nets, is partnering with British racing driver Alexander Sims. The company will equip him with its eco-friendly glasses and sunglasses ahead of the recommencement of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in Berlin (August 3rd).

Alexander Sims competes for BMW i Andretti Motorsport in Formula E – the forward-thinking motorsport series that uses all-electric race cars.

Currently sitting at 3rd place in the FIA Formula E Championships, Sims is the highest placed British Driver.

Recognised as an advocate for electric mobility and sustainability, both on and off the race track, Sims’ move to Coral Eyewear is his latest environmentally conscious switch.

The Coral Eyewear team is incredibly inspiring in its efforts to provide an alternative to virgin plastic frames that are stylish, but most importantly support the circular economy,” says Sims.

I’m always striving to make my home life more sustainable alongside promoting electric mobility through Formula E. I’ve competed in glasses for the past four years and I’m looking forward to switching my eyewear over to a sustainable option.”

Sustainable glasses reduce waste and support the ocean
As previously reported by CleanTech News, around 640,000 tonnes of abandoned fishing nets are cast into the oceans each year. Thus contributing significantly to plastic pollution across the globe.

It can take 600 years for these materials to break down, and during this time microplastic fragments are ingested by marine animals.

Just one abandoned net is estimated to entangle 30-40 animals each year.

Sustainable brand Coral Eyewear announces partnership with British Formula E driver Alexander Sims – CleanTech News
Alexander Sims wearing Coral Eyewear brown sunglasses.
Coral Eyewear is helping to reduce this waste in our oceans by reusing it and creating infinitely recyclable and stylish eyewear frames, supporting the circular economy that is essential to meeting global sustainability goals.

George Bailey, Co-Founder and CEO of Coral Eyewear, explains:

Millions of pairs of glasses and sunglasses are manufactured from virgin plastic each year. It’s no longer good enough to make people choose between style and sustainability and that’s why I decided to set up this business at university.

Alexander’s environmental ethics align with ours and his career is evidence of the fact that eyewear, sustainability and high-performance can sit together perfectly. With Alexander wearing our glasses and sunglasses, we really believe we can change the way people see the entire eyewear industry and remove any stigma associated with recycled materials.”

Frames made from fishing nets
Coral Eyewear’s frames are made from ECONYL, pellets of recycled nylon created from regenerated ocean fishing nets and fabric scraps from landfill.

As well as being a solution for waste, the ECONYL process also reduces the global warming impact by up to 90% when compared to making the material from oil.

The brand has launched its first range of glasses and sunglasses via Kickstarter. This means that those looking to support the brand will benefit from exclusive pre-order prices and complimentary prescription lenses until July 30th.

Among those already supporting Coral Eyewear is entrepreneur, philanthropist and TV personality, Jake Humphrey.v

Sustainable sanitary pads made from bamboo: “A booming business”

Motivated by sustainability, startup RI Nanotech was founded by Rajendra Joshi, with a vision to support society, using smart materials to make sustainable sanitary pads.
Indian startup, RI Nanotech, has tackled a big problem in India: providing affordable, biodegradable, sustainable sanitary pads.

Most sanitary items contain plastic and end up sitting in landfill. As CleanTech News previously reported, landfill sites are a cause of methane emissions – one of the leading greenhouse gases which contributes to climate change.

RI Nanotech’s sanitary pads are made from bamboo and banana fibre, which are 100% biodegradable.

India has been severely impacted by the Coronavirus and lately entered into disputes with Kashmir and China. Despite this, their desire for a cleaner India has not diminished.

CleanTech spoke to CEO Rajendra Joshi to hear about what the startup has achieved and its commitment to sustainability.

Why was it important for you to make sure your product was safe for the environment?
We get a lot of waste, even in my town. Waste management is very important, so why not make more products biodegradable? Now is the time to move for eco-friendly products! We have to be eco friendly – to lower our CO2 emissions and become renewable.

Your sanitary products are made in India from ingredients such as bamboo and banana cotton and you recently started exporting to New Zealand. How have customers reacted to the product?
It took us more than one year to make this cost-effective product. People of all castes and classes can afford them and they say it’s very nice! For so many years people were waiting for a comfortable sanitary pad that was biodegradable – business is booming for us!

The 2018 Indian film Period. End of a Sentence was widely applauded. How has the national attitude changed towards periods since then?
Now, there is more awareness. People understand women’s problems. I remind my Human Resources people: we are here to help society! Yes, things are changing…

How do people react when you tell them that you create sanitary products?
There are different kinds of people, they have a different type of philosophy. Some people give a funny remark, but others say: “Thank you!”

What is next for Ri Nanotech?
We have wanted to make things in India for so many years and depended on other countries. Now, we are the supplier for the globe! We are coming up with more social products: we are working towards air conditioners for the lowest in society, powered by solar tiles. We are also continuing to look at good solutions for waste.

Startups finding creative ways to manufacture everyday products. Creating them in a manner which will not emit dangerously high levels of greenhouse gasses, they are keeping the planet cleaner.

Sustainable sanitary pads made from bamboo: “A booming business” – CleanTech News
Rajendra Joshi, Founder & CEO of RI Nanotech India

Accelerator URBAN-X hopes to improve city living

URBAN-X, an accelerator which takes on “some of the toughest challenges that cities face today”, talks to CleanTech News about city life and visions for improvement.
Living in a city has so much to offer residents – professional opportunities, more capital available, more cultural stimuli and even longer lifespans. However, the challenges of urban living are equally as significant and it’s not by chance that the spread of COVID-19 has thrived in urban settings.

Enter URBAN-X, an accelerator with bases in cities around the world, which hopes to change the city life for the better.

At URBAN-X, we believe that startups that address urban challenges hold the key to build a more sustainable and liveable future – that’s why we invest in urbantech companies,” says Miriam Roure, a Principal at the company.

In the last four years at URBAN-X, the company has invested in and helped launch 51 startups in the US, Europe and Asia.

This has covered mobility and transportation, real estate and construction, energy, water, waste, civic and government technologies.

Most of these companies either sell to cities or operate in highly regulated environments.

Adapting to the post-COVID-19 world
Like all businesses, URBAN-X is planning for what comes next – as life moves back to “the new normal”.

“The main challenge for urbantech is to address the inequality that has been exacerbated by the pandemic,” says Roure.

URBAN-X believes that building inclusive communities and systems that bring people together. Not only this, they are committed to continuing the investment in infrastructure technologies that make cities more resilient in the future and is the way forward.

However, URBAN-X is not ignorant of the human impact on climate change and the company is looking to reduce its carbon footprint.

“We believe that we need to fundamentally change the way in which live and build to enable a more sustainable inhabitance of this planet,” Roure continues.

Cities remain the most sustainable form of urban living due to the amount of shared resources and infrastructure. Besides, climate change is not going away. We want to make sure that with every investment we are a step forward in building the future that our planet deserves.”

Climate Robotics and Aquagenuity are two of URBAN-X’s most recent investments.

“Climate Robotics leverages robots and AI to sequester carbon, fight climate change and improve soils,” explains Miriam. “Climate Robotics has the potential to sequester up to 15 million tonnes of CO2 annually – equivalent to taking over 3 million cars off the road.”

Following the Flint Water Crisis (which began in 2014) concern about water safety has risen.

“The startup Aquagenuity uses big data to provide real-time insights into water quality across the U.S. through a single mobile app. Access to clean water is not a third-world issue — it impacts all of us,” says Roure.

“IBM’s The Weather Company has already partnered with Aquagenuity to use its API, with many other partnerships in the pipeline for later this year.”

Get in contact with URBAN-X
For those with a vision to tackle climate change, URBAN-X wants to hear from you.

“The ideal URBAN-X founder has a growth mindset, learns quickly and is deliberate about their culture,” concludes Miriam.

Startups can submit their application until October 8th, 2020 via the website.

Apply your sustainable idea in the Elemental Excelerator

Humanity has caused a lot of damage to our planet: unsustainable practices, pollution, deforestation… the list goes on. But the damage does not have to. Elemental Excelerator supports sustainable ideas and lifts them into life.
In “Are you a Catalyst for Change?” Joi Ito, director of MIT Media Lab said: “We’re screwing [the Earth] up – and it’s really hard to screw it up! Just as hard as it is to screw it up, it’s going to be that hard to get rid of the problems that we’ve caused”.

Yet many have risen to the challenge and Elemental Excelerator is looking to support the next big ideas which will impact our planet for the better.

Accelerator or excelerator?
An accelerator is a fixed-term programme which offers mentorship and education to participants in a particular field.

Elemental Excelerator is an accelerator which was founded in 2013 and is based in Honolulu, USA.

The accelerator claims:

Each year, we find 15-20 companies that best fit our mission and fund each company up to $1 million to improve systems that impact people’s lives: energy, water, food & agriculture, mobility, and the circular economy.”

Here are some of their past success stories:
Based in New York, EthoseGen transforms waste heat into “cost-effective and carbon-free electricity”.

On a planet where 2.1bn people live without access to safe water, Zero Mass Water uses sunlight and air to create clean drinking water.

Food and agriculture
GrubTubs takes food waste and uses it for animal feed. This prevents the waste from turning into methane gas in landfill and helps out financially stressed farmers.

The clear skies caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have been a summer highlight for many, and Los Angeles-based Ampaire wants that to continue with their electric aircraft. The Ampaire ethos is to build craft which is: “Safe, clean, quiet, and less costly to operate”.

The circular economy
Whatever residents of Brisbane, California have hidden in their “treasure trove”, startup Trove would like to have a go at giving unused items a second life. The goal is to “Reduce the amount of new products society needs by 25%” and support the popularity of second-hand sales.

Read about all of the Elemental Excelerator companies here.

Are you a Catalyst for Change? Do something extraordinary…
If you have an idea that needs a nudge, there is still time to apply to Elemental Excelerator.

The company does not fund consulting firms, marketing agencies, Nonprofits, acquired startups (or those without a prototype), groups with less than two members or those selling third party products.

If your idea fits outside of these realms, check out the applicant resources page to decide what track you want to take:

Demonstration Track
The core parts of this track are technological developments and access to new customers and partners, as well as a grant of up to $1m.

Equity and Access Track
A SAFE of up to $1m, designed around Equity In (from diverse hiring to a responsible supply chain) and Equity Out (strong community partnerships and access to products).

Go-to-Market Track
A grant of up to $200,000 and coaching in Market Intelligence, Sales and Growth and Operational Scale-ups.

Speaking of Elemental Excelerator, Andy Karsner, Managing Partner Emerson Collective, said: “[It] has taken off like wildfire… Be on the right side of the revolution.”

Carbon Craft Design has a plan to cut air pollution – with floor tiles

A Mumbai-based start-up has created a floor tile made from carbon to help decrease the city’s high rate of air pollution.
The level of air pollution in Mumbai, India, has been equated to smoking four cigarettes a day. Start-up Carbon Craft Design has a solution to help the city.

The start-up collects carbon from factories, which would usually be released into the atmosphere, and mixes it to create a solid floor tile.

CleanTech News interviewed founder, Tejas Sidnal.

How did your startup begin?
While reading about the environment, it became evident that the construction industry was such a huge contributing factor to air pollution. It is responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions, but no one was looking at it from the architectural lens. As an architect by profession, it became more like a moral duty to tackle this issue at scale through architectural intervention. This led to the formation of Carbon Craft Design, a Mumbai based design and material innovation startup building architectural and interior products by upcycling air pollution. In January 2020, we launched Carbon Tile, the first tile to be made with air pollution. We’re into carbon offsetting solutions for architects, businesses and end customers and addressing Climate Change issues, through craft and design.

How do you make your tiles?
Carbon from factories is taken and mixed with our ingredients, then made into a slurry and compressed into a tile. Carbon Tile employs a handcrafted tile-making technique which requires only one-fifth of the energy consumed by the conventional tiles. This is a 200-year-old handcrafting technique, that started as a means to upcycle waste marble pieces, by the then-marble polishers, to provide higher quality surface finishes at affordable prices.

How much carbon does one Carbon Craft Tile absorb?
We communicate our impact in terms of litres of air prevented from getting polluted, as it is wise to share our carbon value after the third party LCA certification, which we are in currently in talks with. Our entire exercise is to prevent pollution from happening in the first place. One square foot of Carbon Tile is equivalent to preventing 30,000 litres of air from being polluted. A house can easily accommodate 100 sqft of tiles. That will be mitigating 3 million litres of air pollution. Carbon Tile is going to be the first carbon-negative tile in the market based on our calculations.

Air pollution is a serious health issue in Mumbai – can you tell us about its impact on your daily life?
Breathing Mumbai’s air is equivalent to smoking four cigarettes a day! That is based on the average PM2.5 level. The impact of it is not felt by the general population, as it is intangible and ignored during daily life, but it has a proven long term impact on us. The stats on growing respiratory illness in urban cities over the last decades are quite self-explanatory. But, we also noticed that there was a surge in self-awareness on protecting oneself from day-to-day exposures, even before COVID, when wearing a mask was unnecessary.

What is the government doing to help improve air quality in the city?
Though in an early stage, many independent groups in India are making this information open to the people. As a country, you could see the investments that are going into wind and solar. As a city, we wish for more open discussions from the regional governing bodies to incentivise and harvest the local talent and skills to improve the situation.

What do customers say?
We received and catered to multiple orders in India, within a few months of our launch. Also, we are swamped with enquiries from in and out of India. COVID has definitely affected us in terms of sales pace but it has also helped us gain potential customers. Architects are our major customers who feel that they now have an off-the-shelf-tool for climate action, that they can make through their work. We are happy to see the growing trend of conscious consumers in India.

What’s next for CarbonCraft?
We are moving towards making a more affordable range of Carbon Tiles for wider implementation with distribution models in mind. We have developed an IP around Carbon Tile; we think this could be used to develop a lot of other building materials and other lifestyle and interior décor products as well.

I think what this journey has taught me, is the fact that we, as architects, are responsible for a lot of the problems out there. We are all talking about climate change today, but I felt I wasn’t aware of a lot of the damage I am doing, just by not knowing technical knowledge around the use of materials.

Each building material has a carbon emission associated to it and I feel we as architects should be aware of these and be held responsible for our contribution. Carbon Craft Design’s vision is to upcycle as much carbon emissions as possible and eventually build an entire building made out of carbon emissions using various technologies!

Home electric vehicle charging made simple with NeoCharge

Electric vehicles are known for their environmental benefits, not their charging convenience; however that’s changing, thanks to Californian startup, NeoCharge.
Startup, NeoCharge, has an innovative solution to make home charging electric vehicles more convenient for households with multiple drivers.

In the USA, 28% of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation and in Europe, the figure sits at 27%.

There have been many positive developments for electric vehicles in recent years. Despite the introduction of wireless charging pads and formal calls for more sustainable transport, fossil-fuel vehicles remain supreme.

Refuelling petrol and diesel vehicles is a quick, easy and familiar process meaning many drivers are reluctant to make the move to electric vehicles. Many households also have more than one vehicle and not the capability to charge two electric vehicles at once.

Neocharge has created an answer for those who want to make the move to clean energy: the Smart Splitter. The Smart Splitter can charge two electric vehicles at the same time meaning drivers won’t have to timetable their charging hours or decide who charges their vehicle first.

CleanTech News spoke to Director of Business Operations, Ryan Meffert and Business Development Intern, Eva Hughes. On what was a stormy August evening in the UK, was a clear, bright morning in California, USA, where the startup is based.

How did NeoCharge begin?
Our startup began two years ago. We are small right now, that’s not stopping us!

What do you want to achieve?
For people who want to adapt to electric vehicles, charging it has to be convenient for them. We’re there to make the problem of electric vehicle home charging simple and convenient! We asked electric vehicle drivers: “What is the biggest problem?” They said charging at home.

For home electric vehicle charging, a household with two electric vehicles might need to hire an electrician to get an additional outlet fitted. This can cost $5,000USD. Some have explained that they cannot drive electric, because of this.

The NeoCharge Smart Splitter allows two EV’s to be charged together – helping households with more than one EV and even guests – home charging just got that much easier!

How is your startup supporting the environment?
Ultimately, we want to provide more visibility into energy usage and reward EV drivers for using cleaner and more affordable energy. We know eventually our planet is going to run out of fossil fuels and we will have to adapt to electric vehicles at some point, so why not future-proof your home?

What’s next for you?
The NeoCharge team is currently working on a smart charging platform, where we will provide energy usage monitoring, clean energy charging capabilities and rewards for EV drivers for using cleaner and more affordable energy.