The building blocks of a greener future

New products and innovative technology are building more sustainable facilities and infrastructure, and paving the way to a net-zero future.

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The climate emergency means that we need to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 to limit temperature rises to less than 1.5°C. The reduction in emissions needs action from businesses in all sectors, not just the energy sector. The construction sector and buildings in general are large contributors to carbon emissions. In Africa and South Asia there is a huge need for buildings of all types – homes, schools, hospitals and commercial buildings. This presents a threat to the environment through carbon emissions in construction – alongside a huge opportunity to build more efficient buildings that will help us keep carbon emissions down.

The smartest companies in the sector are looking to use green technologies alongside new business models that accelerate the transition. One business taking such an innovative approach is 14Trees, a joint venture we started in 2016 with LafargeHolcim, a global leader in building materials. 14Trees aims to take affordable new construction ideas from a laboratory setting to large real-life projects.

Working in Malawi, Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire, 14Trees makes and sells Durabric, their alternative to the traditional clay-burnt brick. Durabric is better for the environment as it’s made from earth, sand and cement compressed in a mould, and dries naturally.

2.75 million

14Trees have sold 2.75 million Durabrics, saving 35,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions

Without a need for firing, using Durabric reduces greenhouse gas emissions and avoids cutting down trees, saving on average 55 tonnes of carbon dioxide and 14 trees for every house built. Durabric also offers better resistance to water than traditional bricks, as well as higher strength and sustainability – all using local materials.

By April 2020, 14Trees had sold 2.75 million Durabrics, saving 35,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and 8,700 trees. The bricks have built schools, hospitals and houses.

14Trees has also recently started using 3D printing to build affordable, low-carbon housing and schools in Kenya and Malawi. With rapid building speeds and optimised use of materials, this technology reduces the carbon footprint for building new homes by up to 70 per cent. Pioneering this technology in low-cost housing and schools, 14Trees aims to address the countries’ poor infrastructure, while creating skilled local jobs.

14Trees is a joint venture we started in 2016 with LafargeHolcim, a global leader in building materials.

  • who

    14Trees

  • Where

    Malawi, Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire

  • What

    • Bricks and concrete blocks produced by 14Trees have saved a total of 35,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and 8,700 trees
    • 3D-printing technology reduces the carbon footprint for building new homes by up to 70 per cent

-70 %

3D-printing technology reduces the carbon footprint for building new homes by up to 70 per cent

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