Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Inspired by Legos

At the Urban Green member's meeting last night I picked up a copy of Environmental Building News from December which had the article, Lego Blocks from Straw.

The article was a product review of Oryzatech's Stak Block - a straw-composite, structural building block made from 96% rice straw. Rice straw is a waste agricultural product which has become a disposal problem since burning straw in fields was banned in most places. California produces 1.35 million tons of rice straw annually and only 3-4% of that straw is used commercially.

Common structural materials like wood, steel and concrete require huge amounts of energy to manufacture and distribute, while all the common insulating materials are themselves oil based products. Stak Block's will by definition be manufactured where food is grown, utilizing the annually renewable supply of waste straw that is currently burned. As a locally-produced, 96% recycled content product that sequesters carbon, Stak Blocks will also earn several LEED credits for architectural projects.

The blocks are:

  • Highly insulated: More than three times the value of an insulated 2X6 stud wall
  • Seismically strong: better than wood framing and less brittle than concrete walls
  • Fast to assemble: Block dimensions are 12”x12”x24”, easily dovetailing with other common construction modules. Each block weighs only 30 lbs and interlock.
  • Carbon Offsetting Technology- University testing shows potentially 50 lbs of carbon offsetting for production in China

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