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Innovating In Sustainable Building Materials: Hycrete CEO David Rosenberg (Part 5)

Posted on Sunday, Jun 14th 2009

SM: When you look at the 150 projects you have been a part of, have you noticed any patterns in regards to who your early adopters are?

DR: Our value proposition has led to great word-of-mouth advertising, which is how people are finding us. I speak at a lot of cleantech conferences as well. It is very hard to get adoption in the construction industry, and we are getting that adoption because our value proposition, [from] day one, is less expensive than the alternative. We are better, faster, and cheaper; plus we are green. For every project we do, we can quantify how many pounds of organic compounds we saved, how many pounds of petroleum-based material we saved, how many pounds of potential landfill we saved, and how many man hours we saved.

SM: Can you talk a bit more about the sustainability and green value proposition in your material?

DR: One of the mantras of sustainability is do more with less. By eliminating an entire step of the construction process, we increase productivity and prevents a quantifiable amount of activity on a job site.

There is now a greater appreciation for extending life cycle costs in the US Green Building Council. Our durability features mean you do not have to maintain the material as much and you have lower maintenance costs.

There is a tremendous amount of waste on a construction site, not just [in terms of] which materials are shipped to the site, but on the backside there is a lot of waste when you take a building down. Concrete is sand, water, cement and rock. It should be a reusable material, not a material taking up 11% of landfill space. However, because it dissolves salts which are carried into the concrete’s water, it is significantly harder to recycle. By keeping out the dissolved salts we make concrete much easier to recycle.

SM: What happens today with concrete that comes out of demolished buildings? Can that material be re-used at all?

DR: Most of the time it goes to landfills.

SM: What is the impact of that? Does concrete make the land over a completed landfill unusable?

DR: It makes it harder to use. It could mean less usable space or more toxicity getting into ground water. There are also shipping costs to get heavy materials to disposal areas. I have been pretty active trying to educate the new administration. They have had such a focus on our carbon footprint, and it is extremely important to reduce our carbon footprint.

I am speaking at the planning committee for COP15, which is going to supplant the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012. We are trying to get developing and developed countries to sign onto something meaningful. There is a loss of focus on important issues like pollution and how we lower waste. The construction industry has a huge negative environmental footprint. What I hope to see out of stimulus spending are shovel-ready projects. They need to be tied to incentives to invest the right way to raise the bar of performance. Design a bridge to last 200 years. Build a building with fewer trip counts. Use less waste on a construction site. We have to invest in our future; we cannot just spend our way out of this recession.

SM: The new administration is counting on construction projects to create more jobs. One of your value propositions seems to require fewer construction jobs.

DR: A Congressman made that same point. I can take a brick and throw it against a window to create a job opportunity for replacing a window. That just does not make sense. Let’s use the money and build another school. There are a million things we can do with this money. If we are saving money in one area, we are increasing productivity in another area. That will push our economy. That will turn regular laborers into high technical skill set laborers.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Innovating In Sustainable Building Materials: Hycrete CEO David Rosenberg
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