Eco-conscious homebuyers on a budget have a new choice, 3D-printed homes made from low-carbon cement. A new development in Round Top, Texas, The Casitas @ The Halles, has introduced tiny homes made with concrete that produces only 8% of the carbon emissions created when making traditional portland cement.
Technologies of ecological materialsa leading North American supplier of sustainable cement, has partnered with 3D beehive, a contractor who uses cement printing technology, to build five affordable rental homes with space options ranging from 400 to 900 square feet. Designed to fit a small house lifestyle, the houses will serve as temporary rental accommodation at an event venue. The companies will offer these models for sale “significantly below market prices by the first part of 2024”.
Hive 3D estimates the cost to build the Casitas to be around $120 per square foot, which is on the lower end of the national cost per square foot range. reported by NewHomeSource. The mobile construction printer and mixer system is compact enough to build an ADU in a backyard or support printing large homes.
Printing with concrete
Pouring the walls of the structures involves a robotic nozzle that places the cement precisely according to the architect’s plans. Interior spaces sealed inside the walls can be filled with insulation. The builder adds a traditional wood frame roof to complete the house after the cement has cured.
The Casitas project used Eco Materials’ PozzoCEM Vite®, a sustainable cement substitute that produces almost zero carbon emissions, replacing Portland cement in the concrete mix. The result is homes with printed walls that reduce the embodied carbon footprint of cement by 92% compared to traditional cement. PozzoCEM Vita also dries faster than traditional cement. Houses can be built faster; typically the walls can be completed in about one business 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 enable us to create a system for mixing printable mortar on our jobsites,” said Timothy Lankau, CEO of Hive 3D. “It addresses the concerns of our target market because, when mixed on-site, it is inexpensive, environmentally friendly and highly resilient.”
Printed walls also offer new options in home design as they can be textured and tinted during construction to evoke natural and fantastical environments. Hive 3D even offers to print built-in furniture for home buyers.
First steps in a national movement?
Alternatives to cement are gaining acceptance across the country, and Hive 3D has shipped approximately 1 million tons of these low-carbon materials over the past decade. In an earlier project, Hive 3D used PozzoSlag®, a similar product from Eco Material, to build a 3,150 square foot house, which would be the largest printed house ever built.
The companies have also developed an innovative system that allows on-site mixing of alternatives to cement using locally sourced aggregates. This approach lowers the cost of producing printable cement, making building these homes more affordable 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 should incorporate PozzoCEM Vite® and PozzoCEM, a product that offers 99% fewer emissions than Portland cement.
“We can build at a real cost of 20-30% compared to traditional construction, which makes them much more affordable,” Lankau said. says Roundtop.com. He described Casitas houses as a model of affordable and environmentally friendly housing.
With more strategic projects and partnerships expected to be announced in 2023, homebuyers will have increased access to eco-friendly and cost-effective housing options. Another Texas project led by Lennar, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, will launch this year with 100 larger homes starting at around $400,000.
If you’re considering a new home, consider sustainable 3D printed options. They can be more affordable and reduce the environmental impacts of your next home.
Feature image courtesy of Hive 3D