5 Alternative Building Materials for 2019


With each passing year, the building material industry continues to expand and evolve as they strive to accommodate contractors and architects demands for energy-efficient, resilient, healthy, and durable structures. In addition, skilled labor shortages in the building industry have furthered the need for easy-to-install building materials and techniques appropriate for unskilled workers.

Five alternative building materials for 2019 include the Fox Blocks insulated concrete form (ICF) wall system, air-cleaning bricks, Habito Drywall, SharkBite EvoPEX Plumbing System, and POWERHOUSETM Solar Shingles.

1. The Fox Block ICF Wall System

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The Fox Blocks ICF wall system is an excellent alternative building material in 2019 because it is easy to install and more energy-efficient and noise-reducing than traditional wood construction. The Fox Blocks wall system is also healthier and more disaster-resistant and durable than wood wall systems.

Fox Blocks are Energy-Efficient

  • Fox Blocks provide a high-performance (R-value of 23+) energy-efficient wall assembly surpassing the ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements. In fact, structures with ICF exterior walls often need 32 percent less energy to cool and 44 percent less energy to heat than similar wood structures.
  • The high thermal mass of Fox Blocks creates energy-efficient buildings or homes. High thermal mass building materials absorb and store heat energy, which helps stabilize temperature shifts within the structure by reducing the rate of heat transfer in hot or cold climate zones.

Fox Blocks are Easy and Quick to Install

  • Fox Blocks is an all-in-one exterior wall that combines five steps into one, including air barrier, structure, insulation, vapor retarder, and attachment. This element quickens project delivery time by eliminating the need to coordinate multiple trades while achieving all of the wall system’s goals.

Fox Blocks are Noise-Reducing

  • Sound transmission tests found that less than a third of sound transferred through ICF walls than transferred through wood-frame wall systems filled with fiberglass insulation. Fox Blocks provide a Sound Transmission Classification (ASTM E90) of 4-inch=STC 46, 6- and 8-inch = STC 50+.

Fox Blocks Create Healthy Structures

  • Fox Blocks produce a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall system with a perm rating of less than 1.0, that manages moisture intrusion and stops the growth of mold, which is unhealthy to the occupants of a structure.
  • The air-tightness of a Fox Blocks building envelope provides better control of indoor air quality resulting in a healthier environment.

Fox Blocks are Disaster-Resistant

  • Fox Blocks, with steel reinforced concrete, resist winds of over 200 MPH and debris flying over 100 MPH.
  • Fox Blocks have fire-resistance ratings (ASTM E119) of 4 hours for the 6-inch insulated concrete blocks and 2 hours for the 4-inch insulated concrete blocks.

Fox Block Create Durable Buildings

  • Fox Blocks are less susceptible to termites because they lack organic material, which termites eat. For below grade waterproofing and termite protection, Fox Blocks recommends Polyguard Products, Inc. 650 XTM or 650 XTP membranes.
  • Fox Blocks control moisture infiltration, which can lead to the growth of mold and rot. Mold and rot degrade the integrity of a building.

2. Air-Cleaning Bricks Improve Indoor Air Quality

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Air-cleaning bricks (breath bricks) are an innovative building material that doubles as a passive filtration system, which contributes towards healthy indoor air quality (IAQ). The breath bricks are porous concrete masonry units that form the outside wall and provide an air filtration system that removes heavy air particles, and the pollutants associated with them, as air flows indoors.

3. Habito Drywall Delivers Superior Strength and Acoustics

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Habito drywall, from CertainTeed, is a durable building material that is perfect for high traffic areas within a home or building, as well as spaces that require shelves, media, décor, and other fixtures. Habito is ½-inch drywall that provides excellent strength and eliminates the need for anchors or wall studs for fixtures under 30 pounds. Also, the product improves sound insulation over traditional drywall.

4. SharkBite EvoPEX Plumbing System Installs without Tools

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The SharkBite EvoPEX Plumbing System is quick and easy to install, durable, and contributes towards healthy IAQ.

The SharkBite EvoPEX Plumbing System is an easy to install, push-to-connect rough-in plumbing system for new construction that permits builders to plumb an entire water pipe installation, meter to fixture, without any special tools; which results in higher efficiency, more productivity, and less risk of leaks from installation errors.

The SharkBite EvoPEX Plumbing System is durable because PEX resists scale build up, is corrosion and chlorine resistant, and can withstand extremely high and low temperatures. Furthermore, because there is less risk of leaks from installation errors, there is less chance of mold, which can degrade the integrity of a structure.

The SharkBite EvoPEX Plumbing System contributes towards healthy IAQ because no solder, glue, solvents, or torches are needed, which keeps potentially dangerous and unhealthy chemicals out of the plumbing system. In addition, because installation is simple, there is less chance of errors, which can cause leaks and the growth of unhealthy mold.

5. POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles Produce Energy

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The POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles contribute towards energy-efficient and zero-net energy homes and buildings. The POWERHOUSE Solar Shingle is an energy-producing roofing tile material that combines the protection and performance of an asphalt roof and an integrated photovoltaic (PV) system that powers a building or home. POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles look just like traditional asphalt shingles, but they collect light from the sun and produce energy for a building or home.