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

Blog - Watershed Materials - Watershed Block

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

Posts in From the Lab
On Site Masonry Production from Diverted Excavation - Explorations in Hyper-Local Adaptive Materials Reuse For Real Estate Development

Watershed Materials is teaming up with Westlake Urban and Alpha Group to explore a solution to a problem that real estate developers often face – excavation that has to be moved off a construction site to make way for new buildings.

Rather than haul off the excavation spoils then import thousands of concrete masonry units (CMUs) for use at the project, the developers and Watershed Materials are working together to repurpose native excavation material right at the job site to create the structural masonry blocks used in the development.

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Watershed Materials Hires Director of Research and Development Dustin Hulbert, Ph.D., Formerly of CalStar Products

We’re proud to announce the recent hire of the very talented Dustin Hulbert as Watershed Materials’ Director of Research and Development. Dustin is charged with continuing development of high compression low cement masonry products, designing novel non-cement binder designs, and developing a growth strategy for expanding into other markets like Southern California and Central Texas.

Here’s a short interview we had with Dustin to introduce himself and describe where’s he’s been and where he’s going. 

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Announcing a New Zero Cement Block Formula Made With Lime, Slag and Natural Aluminosilicates

Watershed Materials is on a mission to reduce - or eliminate - cement from structural concrete masonry, one of the most common construction materials used around the world. The manufacture of cement is inordinately harmful to the environment, and humans make so much cement that it’s responsible for 6% of all the world’s CO2 emissions. Today, Watershed Materials is proud to announce a breakthrough production-ready zero cement block formulation that offers an impressive 2,500psi compressive strength, a gorgeous snow-white appearance, and an improved environmental profile.

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New Geopolymer Masonry from Watershed Materials Turns Natural Clays Into Durable Building Products

Up to twice as strong as traditional concrete, Watershed Materials’ sustainable geopolymer masonry uses no cement, no fly ash, no blast furnace slag, no metakaolin, requires no high temperature kilning, and incorporates no dyes or colorants. “We’ve solved the puzzle to allow natural clays to form geopolymer bonds for the production of high strength building materials,” says Dr. Jose Muñoz, Watershed Materials’ director of technology. Read our first research report to find out more.


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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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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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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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