Spokane Journal of Business

Accelerating CarbonQuest: Spokane tech firm selected for national program

Building decarbonization company is one of seven chosen to participate

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CarbonQuest uses this 16,000-square-foot Spokane Valley site as its final-assembly, integration, and testing facility.

Spokane Valley-based CarbonQuest Inc., a building decarbonization tech company, has been selected to participate in a 12-week, mostly virtual, business accelerator program with a global company.

Out of 118 applicants, CarbonQuest was one of seven companies selected for the program by Overland Park, Kansas-based Black & Veatch, an engineering, procurement, consulting, and construction company with over 110 offices worldwide.

Black & Veatch’s 2023 IgniteX Climate Tech Accelerator program partners its participants with company experts to co-develop, pilot, and market their technologies, according to the Black & Veatch website.

“As they’re looking for solutions for their customers, they’ve created this cohort process where they bring in interesting technology companies,” says Shane Johnson, president and CEO of CarbonQuest. “If they feel like it’s a potential fit for their client base and what they’re looking to support in terms of solutions in the market, you get the opportunity to come alongside them, and they provide you with some consulting.”

The relationship between CarbonQuest and Black & Veatch is mutually beneficial, Johnson says.

“It’s good for us because we potentially have these trusted advisers, engineers, and construction team members that already have relationships (with CarbonQuest), and we can be part of the decarbonization solutions they’re delivering to customers,” he says. “That gives us kind of a channel of the market, at scale.”

CarbonQuest is located at 3010 First, in Spokane Valley, and has offices in New York and Washington, D.C. It employs 18 people companywide, with eight full-time employees and two interns at its 16,000-square-foot Spokane Valley location, which Johnson refers to as a “final-assembly integration and testing” facility.

CarbonQuest’s patent-pending technology, called Building Carbon Capture, is a scalable, onsite system that is designed to capture, separate, liquefy, and store carbon dioxide, or CO2, emissions from large buildings before they’re released into the atmosphere, allowing building owners to lower their carbon footprints, improve energy efficiency, meet environmental regulation requirements, and create healthier living conditions.

The CO2 that is collected and stored in the system can then be sold by building owners to companies that embed CarbonQuest’s “Sustainable CO2” into different products, like concrete aggregates or alternative fuels. This creates an additional revenue stream for business owners, Johnson says.

“We’re not focused on small buildings,” he says. “We’re focused on large commercial, industrial infrastructure. It’s not easy for these companies to transition to an all-electric future.” 

In 2020, the commercial and industrial sectors accounted for a combined 31% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report shows. According to the same report, CO2 made up 79% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Commercial and industrial sectors make up an even larger percentage of emissions in large, dense urban cities, Johnson says.

Business is going well at CarbonQuest, Johnson says. The investor-backed startup company is expected to reach profitability in two years, he says.

“We’ve had significant year-over-year growth in our revenue, and we expect that to continue for the coming years,” he says. “We’ve developed a very large and compelling pipeline of activity and signed letters of intent on a number of projects.”

Black & Veatch’s network of customers and industry experts is expected to help CarbonQuest continue its growth, Johnson says.

“The customers that Black & Veatch serve are the same customers we serve, and they’re really looking for solutions,” Johnson says. “We find ourselves in a position of having a really unique and compelling offer to help them meet their sustainability goals.”

The accelerator program began about a month ago and will be completed in October. While CarbonQuest doesn’t receive any funding through the program, it is given free consulting, Johnson says.

“Over the course of the next three months, they’re applying resources that are helping to quantify our solution, but also provide us feedback on how we can do a better job of meeting their customers’ needs,” Johnson says. “I think we’re a perfect fit for what they’re trying to do.”

Currently, CarbonQuest has its Building Carbon Capture technology installed in two buildings in New York, and Johnson says it will have a total of five systems in New York by the end of the year. The company is now starting to explore options outside of New York, Johnson says.

“(We) are working on introducing our technology into new markets that include Washington, Oregon, California, Canada,” he says.

State-run programs and laws—like Washington’s Climate Commitment Act, Oregon’s Climate Protection Program, or Canada’s carbon tax system—aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions are expected to drive customer behaviors, Johnson says.

Washington’s law, for example, is a cap-and-invest program that limits the volumes of emissions that the state’s largest greenhouse gas producers can release. Those companies can purchase emission allowances while they are available, purchase offset credits by investing in greenhouse gas reduction projects, or reduce their emissions to below the state-required limit, which will be lowered to net-zero by 2050.

“It’s a mechanism that does compel them, because they have to participate and buy offsets in this market mechanism if they don’t find a way to lower their emissions below the cap,” Johnson says. “That’s where we come in.”

CarbonQuest isn’t limited to just the regulation-driven market, however.

Some companies are motivated by energy security and resilience and are worried about the reliability of electric infrastructure over time, so they’re engaging in distributed-generation tools, Johnson explains. 

This means that a variety of technologies are used to produce electricity, he adds.

“What we’re finding is there’s a new market where we’re coupling our technology with distributed generation,” Johnson says.

CarbonQuest is continuing to make improvements on its Building Carbon Capture technology, Johnson says.

Dylan Harris
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Reporter Dylan Harris has worked at the Journal since 2021. Dylan, who was born and raised in Spokane, enjoys watching sports, cooking, and spending time with his family.

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