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Speeding Up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active

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See Through Carbon Competition – New Winner

See Through Carbon Competition press release mexico construction building zero carbon emissions research

Mexican researching how zero-carbon construction can help us adapt to climate change without making global heating worse wins share of US$500K supercomputing giveaway for Global South sustainability.

The See Through Carbon Competition, a unique pilot project to bring cutting-edge technology to promote carbon drawdown in the Global South, has a new winner.

With three weeks before the cloud computing licence expires, we’re delighted to announce the See Through Carbon Competition’s latest winner – Mexican architect, building engineer and construction researcher Dr. Daniel Zepeda Rivas.

The competition’s Expert Panel today approved Daniel’s project Zero Carbon Buildings for Changing Climates, a zero-carbon construction research project with immense potential Global South impact.

Daniel’s project is the latest to be awarded a share of a half-million-dollar value free licence for supercomputer-grade distributed low-carbon cloud computing.

  • The See Through Carbon Competition is created and administered by zero-budget social media network See Through News
  • The prize is provided by a surprise donation of US$500,000 worth of supercomputer-grade cloud computing by low-carbon cloud management platform Yellow Dog
  • Daniel joins Nigerians Dr. Samuel Adekunle and Johnson Jayeola, and Italian Laura Degiovanni as winners on this Pilot See Through Carbon Competition
  • To benefit from the prize, winners must submit their data for processing before Yellow Dog’s donation of a free licence expires on April 10th

See Through News hopes to make this pilot competition permanent, bigger, and to provide a more comprehensive range of technological support and tools.  Anyone interested in hearing more about this project, please email: seethroughcarbon.competition@stnwebsite-3877514

Daniel’s Winning Project

The building industry accounts for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions. Any sustainable future has to find a way to reduce this to zero.

In his Application, this is how Daniel outlined his project.

There is a global misconception about zero-carbon buildings in which it is assumed that they imply a higher cost than a typical traditional building. Part of the objective of the tool is the dissemination of the basic concepts or “know-how” about zero-carbon buildings, the idea is to aid and educate anyone interested in the subject, with a special focus on professionals, educators, and students in developing countries where there is limited literature on the subject.

In the section of the Application where he was asked to ‘explain his project to a smart 10-year-old, Daniel wrote:

We are creating a website that will be available for everyone around the world, where any given person can choose a location on a map and the most relevant information about how to create, safe, comfortable, low energy, sustainable buildings will appear.

Dr. Daniel Zepeda Rivas

Daniel was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He studied and practiced as an architect in Mexico before moving to London to pursue his passion for sustainable construction. He has studied, researched and taught zero-carbon building in Spain, Mexico, the UK, India, Switzerland and The Netherlands.

Daniel specialises in the impact of climate change on the built environment. His research focuses on zero-carbon buildings in extreme climates, and he’s gathered a huge volume of data from around the world.

When analysed via cloud computing, Daniel hopes this data will yield specific, actionable outcomes that will enable us to adapt our buildings to our rapidly-changing environment, but without exacerbating the problem by adding even more carbon into the atmosphere in the process. Daniel’s data is from around the world, so specific to individual region’s particular climate, resources, and environment, but his project has prioritised research in South America, East Africa and West Africa.

On hearing his Application had been approved, Daniel said ‘This is the best thing that has happened to me in a while! I am really happy and excited about it – the data processing was keeping me awake at night…’

On reflection, he had this to say.

On The See Through Carbon Competition:

I was impressed by the transparency and efficiency of the whole process, I did not expect it to be as quick and open as it was and I was really pleased to see that the whole process took less than half a week.

On having his application approved:

I have multiple feelings, but mostly joyful and relieved. The possibility to use such an amazing cloud computing resource makes our lives easier. At the beginning of the project, we designed the experimental campaign assuming anything could be done, then we realised that the technology within our reach was not necessarily suited or enough for the purpose. We have been thinking of ways to scale down the project, now we feel that we can make a better job and it is amazing to feel the support for something like this.

On how this prize might affect/improve/transform/accelerate his project:

The possibility to use cloud computing changes the whole timing of the project. Instead of thinking about carrying out a reduced version of the analysis over the next months now we are thinking about a much bigger and more ambitious experimental campaign that can be carried out in weeks.

On how his project will help the See Through News Goal of measurably reducing carbon:

We feel like we are sowing a seed and hoping for the best. While we won’t be directly measuring the carbon impact of the projects that will use our new low-carbon building design guides, we will be able to measure the impact against the typical buildings from the area in specific case studies. 

Expert Panel Reaction

See Through News founder and Expert Panel Chair Robert Stern thanked Daniel for his prompt application and rapid response to requests for clarifications by the shortlist panel:

‘We were delighted to receive Daniel’s Application. Not only does it clearly meet the See Through Carbon Competition criteria, of Speeding up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active, it’s also ‘oven-ready’ for computing. This is important as there’s so little time left before the licence for this pilot expires April 10th.

When setting up the See Through Carbon Competition, experts warned us that by targeting research benefitting the Global South, we might struggle to find suitable projects, especially with such a tight deadline, and with zero budget.

Our first Carbon Competition winner, Samuel Adekunle, proved not only that golden needles do exist in Global South haystacks, but that we could find them within a month. Samuel’s fellow-Nigerian Competition winner Johnson Jayeola proved the Carbon Competition could stimulate entrepreneurial activists to create projects from scratch in time to benefit from this unique prize. Laura’s project showcased how providing this cutting-edge technology could reach projects with extraordinary breadth of ambition.

Now Daniel’s project demonstrates the transformative impact this supercomputer-grade processing can have for Global South researchers working in a Global North environment. It could accelerate, broaden and deepen real-world impact in measurably reducing carbon not just in the Global South, but everywhere.

Just as we hope the remarkable success of this pilot will turn the See Through Carbon Competition into a permanent, rolling opportunity offering a more comprehensive range of non-cash support for Global South sustainability projects, we also hope we can keep helping our winners beyond awarding them the prize.

See Through News is about to expand its Facebook Group network beyond the pilot UK groups in Nigeria, Uganda and, we hope, other Global South countries. At the same time, we’re about to launch a pilot free training scheme for local journalists in the UK, Nigeria and Uganda.

Within a few months, See Through News-volunteer-trained local volunteer journalists could be helping See Through Carbon Competition winners spread the carbon-reducing results of their research via a network of local See Through News Facebook Groups in Africa and elsewhere around the world . This is a thrilling prospect, that would comprehensively serve our Goal of Speeding up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active.

See Through Carbon Competition Rules, Expert Panel & Applications

Details of the See Through Carbon Competition, and its extraordinary origins, can be found in a previous press release.

Information on the Expert Panellists and the judging criteria and system can be found elsewhere on the See Through News website. Details will be updated as we add new experts in a broad range of expertises. All are volunteering their time.

There’s still time to apply, and still compute available, for more applicants for this Pilot.

Before applying, the organisers recommend that applicants carefully read the following points – all accessible on this website.


[In the interests of transparency, please note Expert Panellist Joe Jack Williams works with Daniel on this research, so recused himself from the approval process. We’re grateful to Joe Jack for introducing Daniel to the Competition, and for his help in assessing the other applicants. Like everyone involved in this Competition, he’s volunteering his time and expertise for free.]