Historically, the construction sector has relied on advances in alternative industries (renewable energies, electric vehicles and carbon offsetting) to reduce their carbon footprint. However, we are now experiencing a significant behavioural shift whereby the industry is looking to lower the embodied carbon of projects through sustainable/low carbon building material alternatives to meet impending legislation and targets. However, there is a lack of material alternatives that fit the bill. Sphera’s vision is to become the innovation partner of the construction industry by focussing on the development of low carbon materials – materials that deliver an immediate and impactful carbon reduction.
Overview of start-up
Sphera helps the construction sector achieve Net Zero through advanced science-led material solutions. We have two areas of focus (i) Sphera Blockwork – carbon negative and carbon zero concrete blocks and (ii) Sphera Admixtures – an accelerant admixture which allows for the volume of cement in concrete to be reduced. Both these innovations act to significantly reduce the embodied carbon content of concrete (responsible for 8% global CO2 emissions). The products have the potential to considerably lower the carbon footprint of a build (e.g. a reduction of 72 tonnes by replacing current blocks with Sphera’s blocks in 10 standard houses – this is equivalent to 13 years of electricity) which helps the sector meet strict carbon targets, win low-carbon tenders and meet company ESG’s.
What makes the start-up innovative
Sphera has developed and will continue to develop multiple patent pending technologies in the area of advanced construction materials. This technology has lead to the development of the world’s first carbon negative concrete blockwork which is the same compressional strength, size and density as incumbent blocks. As well as significantly reducing the carbon footprint, the blocks also boast lower thermal conductivities (more thermally insulating).
How the start-up has been designed to scale up quickly
Sphera’s blockwork offers an easily implementable solution to specifiers, contractors and developers who want to lower the carbon footprint of their projects. The look, feel, and weight of the blocks is the same as incumbent blockwork to allow for ease of use. Sphera has secured public (Innovate UK grants) and private funding to accelerate the growth of the company. The blocks are suitable for use where traditional 7.3N blocks are used, where 65 million blocks are used in the UK every month.