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.
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).
These are Interwoven Eco-Panels by New York-based Architectural Systems, Inc. The company has tons of green materials for retail, hospitality, and entertainment projects, etc, but these interlocking panels would work as a focal point in a multifamily- or single-family project, too. They come in walnut, maple, and American oak with no VOCs and FSC-certified wood, upon request. Interwoven panels may contribute toward LEED credits for low-emitting materials and certified wood, according to ASI.
Zero Cottage — a net-zero energy project pursuing Living Building Challenge, LEED Platinum, Green Point Rated, and Passive House certifications — is finishing nicely. Part of the exterior has a handsome rainscreen of vertical cedar battens and salvaged maple flooring. The maple strips were charred with a roofing torch shou sugi ban-, or yakisugi-, style for longevity and aesthetics. The result is a clean and modern look.