The Circular Home: Development and Demonstration of a Net-Negative-Carbon, Reusable Residence

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Richland, Washington
Project Term:
09/01/2022 - 08/31/2024

Critical Need:

HESTIA addresses the need for implementing carbon removal strategies by converting buildings into carbon storage structures. HESTIA is also important for nullifying embodied emissions. The majority of these emissions are concentrated at the start of a building’s lifetime and locked in before the building is ever used. This upfront emissions spike equals 10 years of operational emissions in a building constructed to meet standard code, but increases to 35 years for more advanced, higher operating efficiency buildings, and more than 50 years for high-efficiency buildings operating on a lower carbon intensity grid. These time horizons go beyond 2050 climate targets, which means embodied emission reduction strategies are a high priority.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) team will develop an innovative design process and modular building system to construct a single-family home that is carbon-negative cradle-to-grave. The team will design the Circular Home primarily of biogenic materials, in a manner that will create zero operational carbon, and design it for easy disassembly and reassembly for reuse and minimal waste generation. Major components remain in use for three times longer time than the expected 50-year lifespan of a conventionally constructed single-family dwelling, ensuring the initial design will compound carbon sequestration benefits. Compared with initial carbon cost, the proposed design’s greenhouse gas emissions will equate to 71% avoided carbon in the second building iteration and 52% in the third. This transformative all-electric, volumetric modular design will provide flexibility to meet changing needs over the life cycle of the building while still minimizing cost.

Potential Impact:

HESTIA projects will facilitate the use of carbon storing materials in building construction to achieve net carbon negativity by optimizing material chemistries and matrices, manufacturing, and whole-building designs in a cost-effective manner.


HESTIA technologies will reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment.


Building materials and designs developed under HESTIA will draw down and store CO2 from the atmosphere.


A variety of promising carbon storing materials are being explored and commercialized for building construction. Currently these materials are generally scarcer, cost more per unit, and/or face performance challenges (e.g., flame resistance for biogenic carbon-containing materials). HESTIA seeks technologies that overcome these barriers while nullifying associated emissions and increasing the total amount of carbon stored in the finished product.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Laurent Pilon
Project Contact:
Dr. Chrissi Antonopoulos
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


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