Meet Rob Niven, Founder & CEO of CarbonCure

Tell us a little bit about you and your background: 
Growing up in Victoria, British Columbia, you can’t help becoming an environmentalist and outdoor enthusiast. I’ve lived across Canada, including my graduate engineering studies at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. My thesis studied the benefits of carbon dioxide reactions with concrete. In Montreal, I also learnt about the troubling societal impacts of Climate Change by attending the COP-11 UN climate negotiations. It really got me thinking about how I could apply my studies to more actively combat climate change, which ultimately led to the inspiration behind CarbonCure Technologies. Upon graduation, I took a leap of faith and moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia to build the company and follow a love interest. I’d say things have already surpassed my wildest dreams. CarbonCure is a rapidly growing global cleantech company playing an important role to reverse climate change and I’m married and growing a family with my beautiful wife, Lara!

What is a fun fact about you?
I spent four summers as a wildland firefighter helping battle remote forest fires in the Canadian far north accessed only by helicopter. Little did I know that I was on the frontlines witnessing the early impacts from climate change. Looking back, I wish that fighting climate change was as easy as extinguishing a fire. I learnt a lot about relying on your team under extreme pressure situations to achieve your goals while keeping everyone safe.

Amount CarbonCure has saved to date.

Why do you think climate change/sustainability is such an important topic today?
Climate change and sustainability has always been the “right thing to do”. If that was enough of a reason, we’d all floss our teeth and volunteer every weekend. It’s important today because the effects of climate change are undeniable, more frequent and profoundly affecting people’s livelihoods. Things become important once they become personal and people get agitated to demand change from governments. Change is also an opportunity. Capitalists see climate change as a risk to be managed and entrepreneurs, like me, develop new businesses to support the transition to the future low carbon economy. The shifting of capital to purpose driven companies that are proactively taking action on climate change is why this topic is growing in importance. The construction industry might not be the first that comes to mind when thinking about sustainability efforts, but actually the major strides we’ve made in reducing emissions have been made in partnership with builders, concrete producers and national associations like the National Ready-Mix Concrete Association (NRMCA). We’re helping to change the industry from the inside out, which I think is the most effective way of enacting lasting, positive change. Government also has a key role to play when it comes to accelerating and broadening climate change efforts. Governments from Hawaii to New York are joining us by passing important policies to lower the embodied CO2 of cities by building with low carbon concrete.

What can the average person do to make a difference?
It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to addressing climate change, but if everyone finds ways in their own lives, governments, and industries to address specific issues like that of carbon emissions, I think we can tackle the issue as a whole. The most important way the average person can make a difference is by making changes in the way we consume and vote. Making sustainable purchasing decisions create powerful market signals that businesses will respond to. Voting for governments that have a climate plan ensures we continue to prioritize the transition to a healthy and prosperous future.

What positive changes are you seeing?
The total amount of CarbonCure concrete produced to-date exceeds 5 million cubic yards, and has been used in a huge variety of projects ranging from commercial high-rises to DOT highways, to airports and aquariums. More than 65,000 tons of CO2 emissions have been avoided in total, which is equivalent to taking 12,700 cars off the road or the carbon absorbed by 77,000 acres of forest in a year. New partners, customers and investors are also now coming to us because it’s not only the right thing to do, but because it’s the right thing to do for their business.

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Dylan Welch
Dylan Welch is the CEO and Host of Going Green, a podcast, website, and social media brand that highlights renewable energy, cleantech, and sustainable news.
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