Breakthrough solutions in how we create buildings can save lives and our shared planet. Fortunately, Adital Ela, an Israeli expert in industrial design and sustainability, has created such progress with her highly innovative women-led company, Criaterra. She brought her 25 years of deep experience in research and development in the cross section of sustainability, technology and design to create beautiful solutions.
Thanks to a press tour organized and led by the Jerusalem Press Club with help from Marla Stein, I was able to visit Criaterra and meet key members of their team. I was blown away with their innovations and how it can help create a better world. Thus, I am thrilled to share with you answers about their work from their dynamic Founder and CEO, Adital Ela.
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi: What is the specific problem that you/your company is trying to solve?
Adital Ela: The built environment is the largest economic ecosystem, accounting for 13% of the world’s GDP. It is also the highest-emitting sector, with a share of approximately 40% of global CO2 emissions. Of this number, 8% of global emissions are from cement, the binder used to make concrete. 28% of these carbon emissions are from energy needed to heat, cool and power buildings. These numbers are a very big challenge to overcome!
In particular, the cement industry consumes vast amounts of fossil fuels for manufacturing. And after manufacturing, cement-based products offer us little insulation, leading to high energy consumption to keep the temperature comfortable.
This creates an opportunity for new technological approaches which solve these issues while meeting the high standards that these products require at competitive costs.
How do you solve it?
CRIATERRA’s BioGeo Agglomerated Stone is an alternative building material that can effectively replace different precast cement and ceramic products including masonry blocks, exterior cladding and the interior surfaces, while improving functional properties.
Our manufacturing process uses very low temperatures, cutting energy usage in manufacturing by 90%. This enables 100% recyclability of our products, which are never chemically changed. Due to our unique material properties and product design, Criaterra masonry blocks are 6x more insulative than concrete blocks.
Why is solving this problem important to you? Why should others care?
The building and construction industry is under pressure to mitigate its highly pollutive manufacturing processes. The sector has proven extremely difficult to decarbonize, due to the high embodied carbon of buildings and the high energy consumption for heating and cooling buildings and the low circularity of common building materials.
This is compounded by the fact that we need to keep building, and in fact it is estimated that about 2.6 trillion ft2 (240 billion m2) of new floor area will be added to the global building stock from 2020 to 2060, the equivalent of adding an entire New York City to the world, every month, for 40 years.
What proof/studies show that your solution has potential/works?
The CRIATERRA BioGeo Agglomerated Stone Technology was developed for multiple precast regenerative building products, each with a substantial market size. CRIATERRA has completed the development of our 2D decorative wall tile. This product is based on bio-composite formulations, low carbon precision molding technologies, and other technological milestones that are the foundation for future products, including the 3D masonry block. So we have been able to validate the product properties in this product and additional prototypes and are very excited about the results. We have a clear roadmap to a low carbon, highly insulative wall, built from Criaterra products.
Our very low carbon footprint has been accurately measured in an EPD that was prepared by experts in this area, measuring the precise GWP (global warming potential) of Criaterra’s first product and proving that it is already two thirds lower than competing products, even at a small-scale production site.
How do you go about doing this?
Criaterra’s manufacturing process never exceeds 100 degrees Celsius. This radically different from products that contain cement, which is manufactured at 1600 degrees Celsius.
This reduces emissions in two ways:
• it is a dramatic savings in energy consumption
• it reduces process emissions to zero by retaining the carbonates in the raw materials, rather than releasing them into the atmosphere.
The low temperature manufacturing process even enables manufacturing with fully renewable energy, i.e. zero fossil fuel dependence. And importantly, this process also fully maintains the properties of the raw materials, enabling reuse of the products in a fully circular process, with the potential for zero waste generation for tiles, blocks and other precast products.
CRIATERRA products are designed to provide a high value for end users due to their excellent structural properties combined with a minimal carbon footprint and ease of integration into projects, at a price point that competes with high volume products.
Criaterra’s material properties and thermal design provide the high insulation, dramatically reducing the energy bill over the lifetime of the building.
What have been some of your biggest successes?
We have had very exciting technological successes in the development of the BioGeo Agglomerated Stone technology and have been able to validate structural properties; we completed very competitive innovation projects with outstanding results, confirmed by experts. We have also worked with some of the leading building companies in Israel. We are now expanding into Europe, having signed a European license agreement and are moving to industrial scale manufacturing in multiple sites.
With any start up, there are times when you hit brick wall. Can you give us an example of that and how you pivoted to do something that worked better?
This development is a long-term project and securing financing for R&D in our product category has been a challenge. We have overcome that by working with partners that are aligned with our goals, gaining expert validation and applying successfully for grant financing. This has led us to partners and investors that understand the business and share our excitement about the potential.
As you move ahead, are you looking for partners? Where and how others can help?
We are building partnerships with product manufacturers and market channel partners. Our first license and commercialization agreement has been signed and completed, for manufacturing and selling Criaterra tiles in 4 countries in Europe. We plan to expand to new license agreements for a global presence. We would love to talk to large buyers and build a roadmap to integrate Criaterra products at scale in projects in different global locations.
What is your advice for other people who are just getting their start on climate issues?
First, welcome, this is the most exciting area to innovate in!!
We recommend that you develop a deep understanding about the different measures used, especially measures such as embedded carbon. Learn about Life Cycle Analysis, which is key to truly show the potential impact of your innovation. And build a value proposition that combines economic value with ecological value.
If folks want to know more about your company, how where can they find information or connect?
Please learn more on our website, www.criaterra.com, follow us on LinkedIn and reach out to email@example.com.