A former NBA champion is changing ‘how the world builds’ to fight the climate

CNN Business

Three years ago, a hurricane devastated the Bahamas, claiming dozens of lives. Today, the country is building what it claims to be the world’s first carbon-negative housing community to reduce the likelihood of future climate disasters and to ease the shortage of homes caused by the storm.

Rick Fox, a former Los Angeles Lakers player, is the lynchpin of the new housing project. The former basketball player and Bahamian citizen was spurred into action after he witnessed the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian in 2019. Fox teamed up with architect Sam Marshall, whose Malibu home was severely damaged by wildfires in 2018, to develop Partanna, a building material that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The technology is being put to the test in the Bahamas, where Fox’s company, Partanna Bahamas, is partnering with the government to build 1,000 hurricane-resistant homes, including single-family houses and apartments. The first 30 units will be delivered next year in the Abaco Islands, which were hardest hit by Dorian.

Partanna home prototype, built adjacent to Partanna's building material factory in Bacardi, Bahamas.

“Innovation and new technology will play a crucial role in avoiding the worst climate scenarios,” Philip Davis, prime minister of the Bahamas, said in a statement. He is due to formally announce the partnership between the Bahamian government and Partanna Bahamas on Wednesday at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt.

As a country on the frontline of the climate crisis, the Bahamas understands that it’s “out of time,” Fox told CNN Business. “They don’t have time to wait for someone to save them,” he added.

“Technology can turn the tide, and at Partanna we have developed a solution that can change how the world builds,” Fox said.

Partanna consists of natural and recycled ingredients, including steel slag, a by-product of steel manufacturing, and brine from desalination. It contains no resins and plastics and avoids the pollution associated with cement production, which accounts for around 4%-8% of global carbon emissions from human activities.

The use of brine, meanwhile, helps solve the desalination industry’s growing waste problem by preventing the toxic solution from being discarded back into the ocean.

Almost all buildings naturally absorb carbon dioxide through a process called carbonation — which is where CO2 in the air reacts with minerals in the concrete — but Partanna says its homes remove carbon from the atmosphere at a much faster rate because of the density of the material.

The material also emits almost no carbon during manufacturing.

A 1,250 square foot Partanna home will contribute a “negligible amount” of CO2 during manufacturing, while removing 22.5 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere after production, making it “fully carbon negative within the product’s lifecycle,” according to the company.

By comparison, a standard cement home of the same size typically generates 70.2 tons of…

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