Think outside the rectangle
While some people think brick homes are so solid they’re here to stay, and that light homes are really ‘paper houses’, the reality is far different. The world's top materials scientists research lighter, stronger materials - not heavier ones – so perhaps it’s really time to think outside the rectangle, at home.
When you fly to London in an Airbus A380, you fly higher, quieter and greener than ever before. For example, the A380 provides the lowest fuel burn per seat – which allows airlines to substantially reduce CO2 emissions. It’s also the quietest long-haul aircraft flying today, generating 50 per cent less noise on departure than the nearest competitor, as well as three to four time less when landing, all while carrying 40 per cent more passengers.
These achievements are largely made possible by the significant weight savings brought by composites and other advanced materials – which comprise 25 per cent of its structure – as well as the weight, reliability and cost benefits of new systems.
Now when the world’s innovators are using lightweight composites and other advanced materials to fly us across the world in comfort and safety, why would you close your eyes to the same kind of innovation in your own home?
Here are some of the advantages of products made from the innovative building material Scyon™, a lightweight cement composite with heavy-duty performance:
- The material is resistant to termites, fire, moisture and rot
- Unlike timber, it resists shrinking, swelling and cracking and as a result holds paint longer than wood, and can also be painted dark as well as light colours.
- Unlike brick, weatherboards made from fibre cement and Scyon™ flex with the movement in the earth which means homes are less susceptible to cracking
- Homes built from Scyon™ and fibre cement products have been shown to withstand the effects of cyclone or earthquake
- Unlike brick, Scyon™ and fibre cement products have low embodied energy – in fact the embodied energy of a double brick wall is almost four times more than that of a timber-framed and fibre cement clad wall.
- The embodied energy of a brick veneer wall is almost 2 ½ times the embodied energy of a timber-framed and fibre cement clad wall.
- In addition, energy consumed in transporting the materials to the building site may be significantly higher for heavier materials such a masonry (clay bricks/concrete blocks) as illustrated in the table below. The embodied energy transportation component of masonry construction is approximately 10 times that of Scyon™ Axon cladding™ construction. If Villaboard lining is used instead of plasterboard, the embodied energy is even less.
- The impact of building with lightweight systems is much less on the topography of a site itself – let alone the embodied energy. In fact, the embodied energy of a timber-framed and elevated sub-floor (typically used in lightweight construction) is less than half that of a concrete slab.
- Unlike timber – which does have a low embodied energy – the life cycle costs aren’t as high due to the low maintenance needed with products made from Scyon™, as the graph of total embodied energy over a 50-year life span demonstrates
- In 1988, Brown & Caldwell Consulting Engineers, of California, USA, carried out laboratory analysis on fibre cement solid waste material and confirmed James Hardie fibre cement solid waste material as non-toxic or non-hazardous to the environment and safe for disposal in a landfill. The material is chemically inert.
- Despite this, James Hardie has been focused on reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill, and in Australia has partnered with a large cement manufacturer that reprocesses waste fibre cement product and crushes it into a powder form to replace some of the use of natural materials like limestone. Other partners that manufacture road base materials are replacing sand and crushed hard rock with James Hardie waste and James Hardie also recycles some materials in the manufacture of pallets.