Data from the International Energy Agency suggests that the construction industry is responsible for up to 40% of global C02 emissions.
But buildings constructed to the highest standard of sustainability can be part of the solution, not the problem, according to one Alberta startup that is aiming to turn the table.
ZS2 Technologies, based in Calgary, believes buildings should be sustainable—as well as safe, resilient, and economical.
How does the company aim to achieve this? By combining innovation and science, the team at ZS2 has developed special building materials that power products like TechBoard and TechPanel.
“With lots of brain power and rigorous testing, our R&D team created a proprietary Magnesium Oxysulfate cement formula that we use to create our latest solutions,” the company states online.
Magnesium has been used in building materials for thousands of years, including parts of the Great Wall of China.
“Now, our team of scientists are making magnesium-based materials even better and more versatile,” says ZS2.
For example, TechBoard is the “most advanced sheathing product on the market today,” the company claims, citing the material’s remarkable resistance to both water and fire. It’s strong and insulated yet flexible and light.
“Traditional cement production has a huge environmental impact,” laments Leah Lawrence, President and CEO of SDTC, which recently invested in ZS2, whose technology addresses this issue directly.
“We’ve proven that we can not only capture and sequester CO2, but we can also create high-quality, cost effective building materials the world needs at the same time,” says Doug Brown, chief technology officer of ZS2.
According to Brown, the funding from SDTC will “allow us to commercialize this technology faster, meaning we’ll be able to provide magnesium cement-based materials to markets across North America and the globe, drastically reducing the carbon footprint of the construction industry.”
Scott Jenkins, the startup’s chief executive, believes carbon-neutral building systems “are on the horizon.”
ZS2 isn’t just innovating cement, either. It’s also tackling other common building materials, such as brick. Bricks aren’t the worst—they can be cleaned and recycled—but “the manufacturing process is very harmful for the environment,” says the startup.
On this front, the company recently unveiled TechBrick, a flexible brick-like facade made of quartz sand and a polymer resin, which is then dyed in a pigment mass-based iron oxide. Millimetres thick and weighing less than a smartphone, it’s not your traditional brick block.
TechBrick is also faster to install and half the cost of its incumbent counterpart, according to ZS2.
Jenkins says innovation like this “is a major step forward in changing the way we build so it’s healthier for people and the planet.”
With fresh capital, the company continues to advance its technology and market reach, and is hiring for multiple roles in Calgary, including Production Operator and Engineering Analyst.