Posts Tagged ‘ICFs’

Four Eco-Building Materials of the Future

September 12th, 2014
Pile_of_bricks_2005_Fruggo.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5d/Stapel_bakstenen_-_Pile_of_bricks_2005_Fruggo.jpg

As the world is changing, many things about technology, science, health system, etc. are improved. New machines and gadgets are invented, the purpose of which is to make our lives better and easier. In recent years, a vast majority of different organisations and businesses have called for a more environment-friendly approach when it comes to developing new technologies, products, goods and other stuff. We should start changing ourselves first and the way we perceive things; then we should start changing our homes and our habits, making them less hazardous for nature.

 

With this said, there already are many ways to help protect nature that the average person can do, from using natural cleaning solutions to buying eco-friendly furniture. Everybody knows that standard cleaning products contain dangerous chemicals, that’s why many people use their environment-friendly alternatives. Another way is using eco building materials.

 

In the article below we have shown four eco building materials of the future. What do you think about that? Wouldn’t it be great if these materials are also durable and easy to clean? Personally, we would love it! Get reading and find out more about these materials.

Polyurethane Rigid Foam

This foam is plant-based. It is made from materials like kelp, hemp and bamboo. This foam material in different types for different applications. Ainacore, AinaFlow and Pacific Biofoam are produced by Malama Composites and the materials are used in furniture, wind turbine blades, surfboards and insulation. In fact this company is a big surfboard maker.

The advantages of this foam are its high heat and moisture resistance, protection against pests and mould, good acoustics. Another great side of the foam is that it insulates better, as it has a good thermal resistance as well.

Insulated Concrete Forms

This technology is approximately 60 years old. Back in the early years of its development people weren’t aware of its energy-saving properties. This is what breathes new life into the technology today. The structure of the concrete forms is sandwich-like. There are two insulation layers, in which concrete is poured. One of the biggest concrete forms makers, ARXX, approve of this idea. According to a study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, constructions made from this kind of concrete forms tend to be energy-saving. The report claims that the forms can save 20% more energy than that consumed in cold climates by wood-frame constructions.

Insulated concrete forms are used in building blocks and freestanding walls.

Econoblock

Econoblock is made from cardboard and waste paper. It has a high thermal insulation and it’s load-bearing and lightweight. It is the same as concrete block and performs to the same standards, only it is much more environment-friendly. The technology was invented during the early years of the 20th century but due to its high cost it couldn’t gain popularity or reach commercialisation. The reason for the high rates was the fact that this construction was originally made from cellulose. However, in 1980s waste paper was used as an alternative and so the idea of the Econoblock was revived. They also experimented with other mixture buildings and materials.

 

rammed earth home, aercura

Rammed earth home

  Earth

The advantage of this material, apart from it being environment-friendly, is that it is free and so far abundant. What’s more, it doesn’t have to be transported, as it is available on every job site. A great drawback is that it requires a specialist who knows how to build constructions using this material. It really is difficult to find craftsmen who can work with dirt.

 

We hope you find this information worthy. If you are environment-aware and you are planning to build a new construction, either a residential property or a commercial one, you can use some of these materials.

 

 

This article is a guest post by Hally who writes for PromptCleaners Greenford

Durisol — Insulated Concrete Forms made from Recycled Material

May 12th, 2011

Durisol Building blocks

A few weeks ago I sat down with the new owners of EcoInhabit, a wonderful green building business located in Meaford, ON. Tim and Jan Singbeil are passionate about green building and even more than just building energy efficient homes, they are passionate about building healthy, low energy-consuming homes.

At the core of a healthy home is the use of construction materials that are durable, mould and pest resistant and help with the overall air quality. In this case, the preferred building product for Jan and Tim is Durisol blocks. I was really curious about Durisol and I’d wanted to write about it for a few years, but my biggest hesitation was the fact that Durisol, like any insulated concrete form, depends on concrete for its full benefit, and concrete isn’t exactly the green builder’s best friend with all that energy intensiveness built right in. So I looked at Tim and said, “Convince me that Durisol blocks are a green building material.”

Our conversation lasted for over two fascinating hours, and by the time I left, not only was I a believer in Durisol, I was a believer in “healthy buildings” — which is about so much more than constructing energy efficient buildings — it’s about constructing buildings that take some of the toxic burden off our already too chemically-laden bodies.

If you’re not familiar with Durisol Blocks, they are in the family of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs), however, ironically, ICF manufacturers don’t consider them a direct competitor — and truth be told, they’re not, because they do so much more than provide a sturdy, well-insulated building. An ICF built foundation has many advantages over a simple poured concrete or block concrete foundation. An ICF consists of a “brick”, like a concrete block, typically made out of styrofoam, and filled with concrete. The advantage of this building system is that it’s easy to assemble, it’s extremely sturdy, it uses less concrete than a traditional foundation, and includes insulation so no additional insulation is necessary. It’s also mould and pest resistant.

Durisol up close.

Durisol blocks, however, go beyond ICFs. They are completely petroleum free being made from 80% recycled soft wood waste that would otherwise end up in landfill and 20% concrete. They kind of look like a concrete brick, only the holes are filled with concrete, once the forms are set in place. Imagine putting a house together like constructing with Lego blocks, and are intended to be for contractors and DIYers alike. Tim told me that learning to build with Durisol can be a bit tricky in the beginning, but that once you get the hang of fitting the blocks together, the process is pretty straightforward.*

Construction: similar to lego blocks, it means that there is no thermal bridging — heat can’t escape through the wood studs which happens in a traditional stick-built home. Buildings are solid and durable. Unlike polystyrene ICFs, which are insulated on the interior and exterior of the concrete, Durisol blocks are insulated with recycled mineral wool on the external side of the block only, allowing the other benefits of Durisol to work.

 

Thermal mass: because insulation is on the exterior side of the building block, the concrete within the block is able to act as a significant thermal mass which means it can regulate heating, cooling and relative humidity within a building.

In order to perform the way they were intended, Durisol works best without a vapor barrier between the finished walls and the blocks, which means that a breathable finishing coating such as American Clay or limestone are excellent complementary materials to use. There have been studies done showing the benefits of Durisol, but adding a vapor barrier prevents the walls from doing their job. The concrete won’t be able to act as a thermal mass the way it’s intended, and relative humidity won’t be regulated.

Healthy air: Durisol blocks are made with benign materials so there is no off-gassing of any harmful toxins. Further, when built with a breathable wall finish, the structure acts as an extensive relative humidity regulator because of its hygroscopic qualities. For further information on the benefits of breathing walls, Durisol has developed this comprehensive report.

Mould, pest and vermin resistance. Because these blocks are made with 20% cement, they are mould, pest and vermin resistant. Home air stays healthy. Termites aren’t an issue. Neither are hurricanes for that matter. These blocks are so sturdy when filled with concrete, they are “severe weather” proof.

R-value. Durisol makes several different blocks, narrower ones with no insulation that are good for interior walls, and thicker ones with insulation for exterior walls. The smallest block with no insulation has an R-value of 8. The thermal blocks, that is, those containing recycled mineral wool insulation, range in R value between 14 and 28. Unlike a traditional stick-built home, there is no thermal bridging in Durisol homes. For more detailed information on the block’s thermal performance, read here.

What about the concrete issue? So yes, concrete is used in the building of a Durisol-built home. However, because of the other positive properties of Durisol-built homes, and that the concrete industry is constantly working on lowering its carbon footprint, it can be considered a cost of building for the time-being. Whether or not building with concrete is sustainable, well, that’s a whole different question. The sustainability of a building method implies that it can be repeated infinitely without decreasing or degrading future populations’ needs.

Oh, and if you’re wondering if this is some new-fangled green building material, the answer is no. Durisol has been around since 1953, so its buildings have a proven track-record.

Tim and Jan have convinced me of Durisol’s “green” properties, provided the blocks are used they way they are meant, and not just for energy efficiency, but in the construction of a healthy home. Thanks so much for speaking with me Tim and Jan!

For more information on Durisol, visit the website.

For more information on Tim and Jan Singbeil’s company, visit EcoInhabit’s website.

*In an earlier version of this article I explained that Durisol was not a DIY product and that specialists were needed to build properly with it. However, Tim emailed me to let me know that, in fact, Durisol is made for home installment and only on occasion is his building team called in to help with construction involving Durisol.

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