Eco-conscious homebuyers on a budget have a new choice, 3D-printed homes made from low-carbon cement. A new housing tract in Round Top, Texas, The Casitas @ The Halles, has introduced small homes made with a concrete that produces only 8% of the carbon emissions created when making traditional portland cement.
Eco Material Technologies, a leading North American provider of sustainable cement, teamed up with Hive 3D, a contractor that uses cement printing technology, to build five affordable rental homes with space options ranging from 400 to 900 square feet. Designed to fit a tiny house lifestyle, the houses will serve as temporary rental housing at an events venue. The companies will offer these models for sale “significantly less than going market prices by the first part of 2024.”
Hive 3D estimates the cost of building The Casitas is approximately $120 per square foot, which is at the low end of the range of national cost-per-square-foot reported by NewHomeSource. The mobile construction printer and mixing system are compact enough to build an ADU in a backyard or support printing larger homes.
Printing With Concrete
Pouring walls of structures involves a robotic nozzle that places cement precisely according to the architect’s designs. The sealed interior spaces within the walls can be filled with insulation. The builder adds a traditional wood-framed roof to complete the home after the cement cures.
The Casitas project used Eco Materials’ PozzoCEM Vite®, a durable cement replacement that produces almost no carbon emissions, replacing portland cement in the concrete mix. The result is homes with printed walls that reduce the embodied carbon footprint of the cement by 92% compared to traditional cement. PozzoCEM Vita also dries quicker than traditional cement. Homes can be built more quickly; typically, the walls can be completed in about one working day.
“We chose Pozzechem after a long period of experimentation with Eco Materials to identify a fast-setting cement replacement that had suitable properties to allow us to create a system to mix printable mortar on our jobsites,” Timothy Lankau, CEO of Hive 3D, said. “It addresses the concerns of our target market because when mixed on site it is low cost, environmentally friendly, and high strength.”
Printed walls also offer new options in home design because they can be textured and tinted during construction to evoke natural and fantastic environments. Hive 3D even offers to print built-in furniture for homebuyers.
First Steps In a National Movement?
Cement alternatives have found growing acceptance across the country, and Hive 3D has shipped approximately 1 million tons of these lower-carbon materials over the past decade. In an earlier project, Hive 3D used PozzoSlag®, a similar product from Eco Material, to construct a 3,150-square-foot home, which is reportedly the largest printed home ever built.
The companies have also developed an innovative system that allows the on-site mixing of cement alternatives using locally sourced aggregates. This approach reduces the cost of producing printable cement, making it more affordable to construct these homes than their traditionally built counterparts.
Grant Quasha, CEO of Eco Material Technologies, said the project demonstrates that the construction industry can reduce its carbon footprint. Future Hive 3D projects are expected to incorporate PozzoCEM Vite® and PozzoCEM, a product that offers 99% fewer emissions than portland cement.
“We can build at a real cost savings of 20 to 30 percent over traditional construction, which makes them much more affordable,” Lankau told Roundtop.com. He described the Casitas homes as a model for affordable and environmentally responsible housing.
As more projects and strategic partnerships are expected to be announced in 2023, homebuyers will have increased access to environmentally friendly and cost-effective housing options. Another Texas project led by Lennar, one of the country’s largest home builders, will be introduced this year with 100 larger homes starting in the mid-$400,000 range.
If you’re thinking about a new home, consider sustainable 3D-printed options. They can be more affordable and reduce the environmental impacts of your next house.
Feature image courtesy of Hive 3D