After a century, drywall (also called Sheetrock) has a green, sustainable replacement. Drywall is gypsum wallboard; EcoRock is 80% post-industrial waste content.
EcoRock is made by the Serious Materials company which operates four plants. This new wall-covering construction material is just becoming available during the summer of 2009. Its introduction into the homebuilding market is sure to be welcomed after the recent scandal over tainted Chinese drywall imports and the subsequent lawsuits.
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What Makes EcoRock a Green Building Material?
This drywall substitute is made out waste products from manufacturing other goods, saving them from being discarded in landfills. The manufacturing process is also more environment-friendly. Drywall must be heated in an oven in a process to harden it.
Serious Materials claims their product uses 80% less energy to produce than gypsum wallboard. That fact alone will make a difference when the coming Cap and Trade legislation takes effect. Building a home with EcoRock can contribute up to 8 points toward LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
Other Benefits Over Sheetrock
- It bypasses gypsum’s oven-cooking process. Instead, the manufacturing process involves mixing fly ash, kiln dust, slag, and fillers with water according to inhabitat.com. This forms a paste-like compound which is poured out and allowed to dry. The exact detailed recipe is an inside secret.
- It’s virtually mold-proof, scoring 10 on a 10 point ASTM D3273 rating scale. This makes it a much healthier building material in the home.
- It generates 60% less dust than drywall, making installation less of a chore.
- It’s engineered to be completely recycled, whereas many landfills will not accept gypsum, making disposal of it problematic.
- It’s termite resistant.
LEED Certification Credits
LEED, as defined by by the USGBC (US Green Building Council), is graded on a 136-point system. Every little bit counts and EcoRock makes its contribution.
Using this product can score 2 points for recycled content, 2 for regional materials, 1 for being low-emitting, and 3 for indoor environmental quality. It is also rated cradle to cradle gold, which no brand of conventional drywall is.
This product installs just like conventional drywall. The difference is that rather than having a paper finish, it has a “coated glass mat”. According to Serious Materials, it hangs and finishes just like taping and floating drywall.
The initial price is expected to be in the $14 – $20 USD range for a 4′ X 8′ sheet which is a bit high for most construction, in an industry that thrives on cost-saving. Currently, that would just about double the cost of materials. That might fly for some upscale home builders, but most homeowners can’t afford to be that green, no matter how well-intentioned they may be. But in a smaller remodeling project, it just might work.
To learn more alternatives to drywall, visit this article