Concrete is everywhere in construction, so I like to note what’s happening to make concrete “greener.“ CarbonCure Technologies, Inc. licenses technology in North America to make, for example, carbon-absorbed concrete blocks and other precast products. Basically, CO2 is injected during curing — making limestone — with the end result being a stronger, greener masonry and other precast products.
I noticed in Dwell‘s Prefab edition that one prefab was partially built with an innovative concrete masonry unit (CMU) by Nevada-based Omni Block. Omni Block is a structural CMU filled with Expanded Polystyrene inserts. Walls with Omni Block can be finished or, in the case of the Simpatico project (see below), left exposed for a modern interior or exterior. The manufacturer says the material is fire resistant, durable, and thermally efficient, and the blocks come in colors or with special aggregates.
Portland-based Terra Bona Materials launched Terralite Cement at Greenbuild this year hoping to deliver a product that meets the energy-efficiency demands of the greater building science community. Terralite is a “lightweight” product made with cement and an aggregate that includes expanded polystyrene. Marketing materials claim the product is 20% of the weight of traditional concrete and, according to company president Terry Cotton, insulative with an R-value of 1.8 per inch.