3D printed homes come with a lower carbon footprint -

3D printed homes come with a lower carbon footprint

Environmentally conscious homebuyers on a budget have a new option, 3D printed homes made from low carbon cement. A new residential neighborhood in Round Top, Texas, Casitas @ The Halles, has introduced tiny homes made of concrete that produces only 8% of the carbon emissions of making traditional Portland cement.

Eco Material Technologies, North America’s leading provider of sustainable cement, has 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 suit the tiny home lifestyle, the homes will serve as temporary rental housing on the event venue. The companies will offer these models for sale “well below current market prices by the first part of 2024.”

Hive 3D estimates the cost of building Casitas at about $120 per square foot, which is the lower end of the national cost-per-square-foot range reported by NewHomeSource. The mobile construction printer and mixing system is small enough to build a backyard ADU or support large home printing.

Concrete printing

The casting of the walls of the structures involves a robotic nozzle that precisely places the cement according to the architect’s designs. Enclosed interior spaces within walls can be filled with insulation. The builder adds a traditional shingle roof to complete the house after the cement has cured.

3D printer pouring a new wall
3D printer pouring a new wall. Source: Hive3D

The Casitas PozzoCEM project used Eco Materials’ Vite®, a permanent cement alternative that produces virtually no carbon emissions, to replace Portland cement in its concrete mix. The result is homes with printed walls that reduce the carbon footprint of cement by 92% compared to traditional cement. PozzoCEM Vita also dries faster than conventional cement. Houses can be built more quickly; Usually, walls can be finished in about one working day.

“We selected Pozzechem after a long period of experimentation with Eco Materials to identify a quick-setting cement alternative with suitable properties to allow us to create a printable mortar mixing system on our job sites,” said Timothy Lankao, CEO of Hive 3D. “It addresses the concerns of the target market because when mixed on site it is low cost, environmentally friendly and high potency.”

Printed walls also offer new options in home design because they can be textured and colored during construction to evoke natural and picturesque environments. Hive even offers 3D printing of built-in furniture to homebuyers.

3D printed walls
3D printed homes create new design possibilities. Source: Hive3D

First steps in a national movement?

Cement alternatives have found increasing acceptance across the country, and Hive 3D has shipped nearly 1 million tons of this low-carbon material over the past decade. In a previous project, I used Hive 3D PozzoSlag®, a similar product from Eco Material, to build a 3,150-square-foot house, which is said to be the largest printed house ever built.

The companies have also developed an innovative system that allows cement substitutes to be mixed on site using locally sourced aggregates. This approach reduces the cost of producing printable cement, making these homes more affordable to build than their traditional counterparts.

Grant Kwacha, CEO of Eco Material Technologies, said the project shows the construction industry can reduce carbon emissions. Future Hive 3D projects are expected to include PozzoCEM Vite® and PozzoCEM, a product that provides 99% fewer emissions than Portland cement.

3D printed house in Texas
The largest 3D-printed home ever built, a 3,150-square-foot home in Brenham, Texas. Source: Hive3D

“We can achieve real cost savings of 20 to 30 percent over traditional construction, making it more affordable,” Lankao told Roundtop.com. He described Casitas homes as a model of affordable and environmentally responsible housing.

With more projects and strategic partnerships expected to be announced in 2023, homebuyers will increase access to environmentally friendly and cost-effective housing options. Another project in Texas led by Lennar, one of the largest homebuilders in the country, will be introduced this year with 100 larger homes starting in the mid-$400,000 range.

If you’re considering a new home, consider sustainable 3D printing options. They can be affordable and reduce the environmental impact of your next home.

Main image courtesy of Hive 3D