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News & Insights

Why We Created Carbon Title

Welcome to Carbon Title, the first platform focused on empowering the real estate industry to meet its climate goals to reach net zero. We wanted to share a bit about why we started the company, the problem we’re tackling, and our mission to make every building carbon neutral. 

An enormous, intractable problem

Let’s start with a conundrum and some math. We need to build 3.8 million more housing units in the United States just to keep up with the rate of household formation — we’re currently building at a rate of 1.5 million per year. Add in the need for additional essential infrastructure, and construction output will likely double by the end of the decade.

Compounding the problem: to keep up with the Paris agreements, and to stave off the worst-case climate scenario, the construction industry needs to reduce its total carbon emissions by about 45% by 2030, which is just 8 years away!

To double construction output while cutting emissions to meet the 2030 net zero target, we need to slash per-project emissions by about 75%.

It doesn’t take a math genius to see that this calculation doesn’t add up. To both double construction output and cut emissions almost in half, all in the next 2-3 building cycles, we need to slash per-project emissions by closer to 75%. That’s very tough.

Real estate accounts for 38% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, without construction, we don’t have hospitals, schools, or housing. We need to keep building, but we also need, urgently, a radical change in approach.

The construction industry needs to change

Construction is a high-carbon, low-margin, essential industry. We can’t just cross our fingers and hope it will decarbonize. We need to fundamentally reimagine our approach. 

We need to align the financial incentives of the building industry with the urgent human need to address the climate crisis.

To do this, we must give all stakeholders — from those who finance construction projects to the tenants who rent apartments and offices — the ability to easily identify the carbon intensity of buildings so they can choose lower-carbon options. We need to align the financial incentives of the building industry with the urgent human need to address the climate crisis.

Two key things need to happen for the construction industry to go carbon-neutral within the next eight years. 

  1. It needs to be easier for builders to find, evaluate, and use lower-carbon materials, and purchase high-quality carbon removal credits to offset the remaining emissions and get to carbon-neutral. 
  2. Tenants and stakeholders need easy, accessible ways to evaluate a building’s carbon footprint. 

We founded Carbon Title with these two priorities in mind. Carbon Title offers a simple, transparent, cost-effective way to neutralize the climate impact of our built environment. Our platform empowers property owners, developers, and contractors to quickly evaluate a building project’s CO2 emissions and develop an actionable plan to achieve verifiable carbon neutrality, including the purchase of high-quality carbon credits.

Why carbon credits? 

High-quality carbon credits serve two purposes. First, they finance projects that actually remove carbon from the atmosphere — an essential complement to cutting emissions. Second, they capture the cost of the negative externality (carbon emissions) in the cost of the building. This not only helps us achieve our climate goals, but also makes greener alternatives more cost-competitive.

Carbon credits finance projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere — an essential complement to cutting emissions.

Although carbon credits have gotten some bad press, reaching our carbon goals is impossible without them. 

Carbon credits are held more accountable than ever, which leads us to the second priority: transparency. We provide carbon credits with radical transparency, using the blockchain to create an immutable public record to verify carbon neutrality claims and enforce traceability. No greenwashing.

The pursuit of radical transparency

Information on building emissions is not easy to find. Do you know how many metric tons of greenhouse gasses your apartment building emits each year? What about its “embodied carbon” — the emissions that went into building it in the first place, and demolishing it when its lifecycle is through? A remark we once heard from an industry insider still rings in our ears: without public data, it’s easy for tenants, bankers, investors, and developers “to stay blissfully ignorant of the mess they are making.”

Carbon Title aims to build a decentralized database of carbon emissions, making the data public so that all stakeholders can pressure the industry to use lower-carbon materials and finance high-quality carbon removal projects. Transparency is also essential for the large (and growing) number of corporations, money managers, hedge funds, banks, and endowments that have made climate neutrality pledges.

A decentralized immutable database of embodied carbon emissions makes the data public so all stakeholders can make informed decisions and meet their climate neutrality pledges.

This data also has to be trustworthy. Stakeholders need to have confidence that the carbon removal credits getting a building to net zero are actually removing carbon from the atmosphere. 

Creating NFTs (non-fungible tokens) for carbon removal credits ensures that each carbon credit purchased is unique. Because blockchain data can’t be edited and is public, stakeholders will be able to see the whole history of a building’s efforts to go carbon neutral, even when the building is sold to new management. Putting carbon data on the blockchain makes this information accessible, verifiable, and trustworthy. This will give people and institutions the tools they need to force the industry to change — and give the construction industry the tools it needs to make changes faster and more effectively.

Building a better world

The climate crisis is a generation-defining problem, and construction is a big part of that problem. We need to keep building more homes and more infrastructure, but we need to build greener, starting today. 

Carbon Title gives builders and their customers the tools they need to demand and enact rapid change. We’ll make the financial benefits of greener construction crystal-clear, and help builders buy high-quality, verifiable carbon removal credits to close the gap and get their projects to carbon-neutral.

Most importantly, we have a responsibility to the next generation to figure this out — they need both a planet to live on and buildings to live in. We each have two kids who are the same ages (8 and 11) which is how we met. We can no longer say that some future generation will deal with our problems; our children will see the ocean rise at least a foot in their lifetime. They will experience more wildfires, countless losses of natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef, and huge problems like food scarcity and mass migration that we can’t fully anticipate today.

Carbon Title is our effort to drive radical climate change. What’s yours?

Trevor & Miles


Interested to learn more? Request a demo to test-drive our software for yourself.

Or if you just want to keep in touch, join our mailing list or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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