Watershed Materials - Technology for New Concrete Blocks
The block with a smaller carbon footprint.
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Blog - Watershed Materials - Watershed Block

Blog updates by Watershed Materials. Developments for sustainable new concrete block technology funded by the National Science Foundation.

Congressman Mike Thompson Visits Watershed Materials' Research and Manufacturing Facility

The team at Watershed Materials was thrilled to share the day with Congressman Mike Thompson, who represents California's 5th congressional district that stretches from Clear Lake to Vallejo. Representative Thompson visited Watershed Materials' manufacturing facility and geopolymer research lab to find out more about the company and see how we're using the National Science Foundation's SBIR grants to develop technology for low cement sustainable masonry.

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Watershed Materials Featured by National Science Foundation

We're thrilled and flattered to be featured on the website of the National Science Foundation's SBIR program as well as their Tumblr. The NSF funded Watershed Materials' research, both for a geopolymer replacement to Portland cement used in concrete masonry and for a new machine platform to produce low (or zero) cement masonry. We're thankful that our research based on their funding - in this case our first prototype block machine - has made it's way up to their website and Tumblr.

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Back to the Beginning : Radically Re-Thinking the Concrete Block Machine

Watershed Materials has been working to re-invent a different kind of concrete block - called Watershed Block - that offers the same structural properties of a traditional concrete block but with a beautiful, natural appearance and a significantly lower carbon footprint.

To accomplish this, we had to totally re-invent a new machine to make Watershed Block. We're proud to unveil the first prototype of our new machine, supported by the National Science Foundation.

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Geopolymer Concrete, Egyptian Pyramids, and a New Way Forward for Sustainable Masonry

Spoiler Alert : We may be wrong about how the ancient Egyptians built the Great Pyramids. And figuring out how the pyramids were built has important applications in reducing the carbon footprint of concrete masonry, one of the most widely used construction materials on the planet.

This long-form piece, originally published on Medium, traces the roots of geopolymer technology from the ancient Egyptians to Watershed Materials' modern day quest to discover novel sustainable building materials.

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Modular and Prefab Strategies Applied to Rammed Earth and Watershed Block to Lower Cost, Reduce Waste and Speed Construction Time

There is a lot of interest today in modular and pre-fab housing - it’s affordable, shortens on-site construction time, reduces construction materials, and cuts down on construction waste. Watershed Materials applies these strategies to rammed earth and Watershed Block construction to increase affordability and speed.

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David Easton Keynotes the First International Conference on Rammed Earth Construction - Perth, Australia - February 10th to 13th 2015

David Easton is thrilled to keynote the First International Conference on Rammed Earth Construction in Perth, Australia from 10 to 13 February 2015. The conference is hosted hosted by The University of Western Australia and brings together researchers, engineers, and practitioners in order to communicate the latest developments in the design and analysis of rammed earth construction.

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EventsAlex WrightComment
David Easton at PechaKucha 20x20 - Albany, California - January 30th 2015

Join us to hear David Easton presenting 20 slides for 20 seconds each at PechaKucha Albany Volume 4. The theme of the night will be "Resolutions" (fitting for the beginning of the New Year) and David will be talking about his resolution to quit incorporating Portland cement into our built environment. David will show how the Romans and Egyptians were able to build durable structures lasting thousands of years without Portland cement, a notorious contributor to CO2 emissions and climate change.

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EventsAlex WrightComment
Indoor Comfort Isn’t Just About R-value: Addressing the Relationship Between Insulation and Thermal Mass

People often ask us about the R-value of a Watershed Block, or of a wall built of Watershed Block, or of a rammed earth wall built by our sister company Rammed Earth Works. In this post, we explain how a high thermal mass Watershed Block wall, like a rammed earth wall, can provide insulative properties and we discuss the effect of adding insulation to a Watershed Block wall or a rammed earth wall.

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Watershed Materials Awarded $740,000 from the National Science Foundation To Develop Durable Green Masonry Building Materials With Zero Cement

Watershed Materials is proud to announce that the company has been awarded a Phase II SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation to further develop and commercialize structural masonry with zero cement. The company successfully completed Phase I of the grant process earlier this year and looks forward to completing the research, development, and commercialization in Phase II.

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News, AwardsDavid EastonComment
Watershed Materials Featured in a 5 Page Dwell Story "A Greener Building Block"

Watershed Materials is thrilled to be featured in a five page story in Dwell Magazine's October issue. The story, called A Greener Building Block, highlights the materials side of sustainable construction, often overlooked in beautiful national design magazines.

Dwell writes, "In many ways, this essentially prefabricated structure echoes Frank Lloyd Wright’s idealized midcentury Usonian house, which he describes in his book The Natural House as being 'integral to its site, integral to its environment, integral to the life of the inhabitants.'"

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Press, NewsAlex WrightComment
Watershed Materials Selected as a Finalist for SXSW Eco Startup Showcase Competition.

Watershed Materials is proud to announce that the company has been selected as a finalist to present at the SXSW Eco entrepreneurial pitch competition, the Startup Showcase. Hundreds of innovative sustainability focused companies from around the world applied to present, and Watershed Materials is thrilled to be chosen as a finalist. SXSW Eco’s entrepreneurial pitch competition, the Startup Showcase, will take place on October 6-7, 2014 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX. 

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Events, NewsAlex WrightComment
Home Built Entirely of Watershed Block Survives Magnitude 6 Earthquake With No Damage.

The Watershed Materials team was shaken awake at 3 in the morning by a magnitude 6.0 earthquake located just a few miles from both the Watershed Materials headquarters factory and the first home built entirely of Watershed Block.

We are happy to report that the first home built entirely of Watershed Block, located nearly on top of the epicenter of the strongest earthquake to strike the California Bay Area in over 20 years, sustained absolutely no structural damage or any visible damage of any kind. After the strong earthquake, we witnessed absolutely no signs of damage - no cracks in the mortar joint lines, or on the faces of any blocks.

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Join us and the American Institute of Architects for a Net Zero Energy Residential Tour

Join Watershed Materails and the American Institute of Architects for a Net Zero Energy Residential Tour featuring a one-of-a-kind home completed by our sister company Rammed Earth Works.

The large estate home was cut into the hilltop site nestled amongst dozens of mature oak trees, and is punctuated by a curving rammed earth wall that draws visitors into the home and frames the spectacular views.

The project goals of Net-Zero Energy and eco-friendly features all have self-sustainability at their core, and the building achieve several earth-healing objectives such as cleaning the air, purifying the water, providing energy to the grid, and providing the owners with their own food. The design achieved a Green Point Rating of 263, largely due to exceeding California Title 24 Energy Standards by a whopping 62%!

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