Omni Block is an Insulated Concrete Block

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.

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Terralite is a Light New Insulative Cement

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.

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Solar Electric Bonsai Tree for the Home

Here’s an update to an old article about a tree-shaped charger powered by solar energy. Vivien Muller’s Electree+ is on Kickstarter seeking to raise $200,000 to mass-produce these little home/office gadgets here in the USA. The new prototype will be made with an 14,000 mAh internal battery, 27 amorphous silicon solar cells (each about 3.7 inches), and an easy-to-assemble tree structure that can be customized. In case you’re interested, the early bird gets in at the ground level for ~$199.00.

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Windows with Energy Efficiency in Mind

This is another installment in our series called Energy-Efficient Windows 101 made possible by Marvin Windows and Doors. In our first article of the series, I discussed some window basics and how to read a home window label.  Now I want to discuss more product options available for your energy-efficient windows.  When you buy Marvin windows, you’ll have the opportunity to decide how many panes you need and which glazing and gas options can contribute towards your home performance goals and well as maximize your comfort.

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CalStar Publishes EPD for Fly Ash Brick

CalStar Products makes brick with a proprietary manufacturing process and a binder of fly ash.  By using fly ash, the company diverts waste from the landfill (37% recycled content) and eliminates energy-intensive firing — these bricks are cured overnight at temperatures below 200° F, according to CalStar.  To give the market comfort with their sustainability claims, CalStar obtained a lifecycle analysis (LCA) from Perkins + Will and published the results in an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD).

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The Year in Prefab [Dwell Magazine]

You’re probably interested in modern prefab if you’re reading this site.  So make sure to grab a copy of the December/January 2013 publication of Dwell.  Entitled “Prefab Comes Home,” the magazine includes about 60 pages of prefab coverage for the enthusiast. The cover features a “ready-made home” designed by Jens Risom in the late 1960s on Block Island, Rhode Island.  I enjoyed seeing the finished prototype by Simpatico Homes.

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