Blog #21 – Innovative New Building Materials in the Wake of the COVID-19 Price Hike

Hempcrete House.

In the United States, professionals in the Architecture, and Engineering, Construction (AEC) world has seen the ripple effects of the COVID-19 on the supply chain. In the past 6 or more months in the United States, construction materials have been in short supply, due to the slow down of global shipping operations and factory shutdowns or slow-downs.

As a result, there has been a spike hike on certain building materials such as lumber, metal, and waterproofing. Lumber prices have increased 2x-3x fold from last year, metal pricing has increased, and concrete is also affected because of the price increase of concrete metal reinforcement. In the last month, demand in the construction industry has returned, and we are currently experiencing a boom again. However, the increased demand is continuing to accelerate the price materials hikes on those building materials, and vendors & subcontractors are unable to guarantee pricing for long periods of time.

Thus, it’s the right time to consider other building materials, in lieu of lumber, steel, and concrete:

  1. Bamboo – I’ve been watching to see when bamboo engineered wood products will break into the US construction industry. Using bamboo which is as strong as some of the strongest hardwoods, and lighter, and more eco-friendly than hardwood trees. However, there is a company Bamcore, that create bamboo modular panels. You can read more about BamCore in one of my previous blog posts here.

2. Hempcrete – This is created by combining the core of a hemp plant and lime-based binder. It serves as insulation, has a stucco-like appearance when finished on the exterior, is eco-friendly and long lasting. Learn more here.

3. Eco Brick – Eco brick products have been gaining increasing popularity. A Kenyan company, Gjenge Makers, create a plastic pavers which can carry 3x -4x the load as a concrete paver, and more flexible and less brittle, and 30% cheaper. Full video here.

4. Concrete without cement – There’s an admixture substitute for cement called Oxara. It was created by Togolese Ph.D. student – Gnanli Landrou, in collaboration with the ETH Zurich. This product is 20x more eco-friendly and 2-3x cheaper than cement. Full video here.

What other up-and-coming, eco-friendly building materials have you heard of?

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