It is getting hard to keep track of all the credible companies delivering advanced structural building materials. It’s fine to call something “green” that has a high recycled materials content, low embodied energy, doesn’t offgas unhealthy toxins, doesn’t include toxic materials, and has superb insulation value, but this is only half the story. Many of these products are interesting for two reasons that have more to do with the other green, the color of money; they cost less, and they require less labor to assemble.
Here are some companies we’ve reported on before that fill the “green building block” criteria: Perform Wall manufactures (approximately) 1? x 1? x 2? bricks of a foam and concrete mixture that can be stacked like Legos, the hollow interiors filled with rebar and concrete. Sipcrete manufactures structural panels with steel web reinforced, fairly thin concrete exteriors, and a foam-filled interior space interlaced with a steel frame. Connecting the sides and enabling great structural strength, this interior frame consists of numerous diagonal steel I-beams that lock into the embedded steel web inside each of the concrete exteriors.
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Another next generation wall manufacturer is ARXX, with a structural wall solution equally unique and innovative. ARXX’s approximately 1? x 1? x 2? interlocking rectangular blocks have rigid foam exteriors (roughly 2? thick foam exterior walls) that are set about 6? apart; the interiors are linked with plastic diagonal struts that include snap-in indentations for quickly and easily inserting rebar. Once these blocks are assembled with rebar, they have concrete poured in and can have various surface treatments. Structural block designs show extremely interesting progress.
Now we have Integrity Block, a new company delivering a product that competes head to head with structural concrete blocks. Meeting standard tests for strength and compression, the Integrity Block has a 50% recycled content and 40% less embodied energy. As such this block generates LEED credits, something that increasingly is becoming mandatory for builders. And the Integrity Block product line costs no more than standard concrete masonary blocks.
|Integrity CEO Trevor Stout with
one of his green building blocks.
(Photo: Integrity Block)
Integrity Block, founded by CEO Trevor Stout in 2007, includes on its board of directors Kevin Surace, CEO of Serious Materials, a manufacturer that has pioneered a novel process to produce sheetrock using far less energy. Advisors to Integrity Block include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, along with an impressive group of construction industry professionals.
Green building and green infrastructure is one of the most fascinating areas of clean technology, because each time a construction project begins, it is another opportunity to integrate myriad recent innovations from across most cleantech sectors – energy, energy efficiency, building materials, water management – and do so in a way that potentially is green in both senses of the word.