What have been the biggest benefits to using Comfort Block in your own home?
The house I owned before building a block house had some mold that developed from some leaks. This problem is significantly reduced with a block wall. The block walls won’t rot at all because there is simply nothing to rot. That is comforting.
The other benefits are certainly the energy savings and even temperatures that the concrete walls give you. The biggest benefit, however, is that this structure is so absolutely quiet! The walls do not flex at all in the wind. I can’t hear rain. I can’t hear traffic. It’s very calming. I don’t think I ever realized how much outside noise affected my mood until I could block it out.
Do you have stats about the energy savings (heating) of Comfort Block as compared to regular stick-built walls?
We are still gathering data on this house to give hard numbers to people. This will take a couple of seasons to do. However, I can say that I believe this house fits into the high performance category of home building. We are heating nearly 4000 sq.ft. worth of house with only 40,000 btu’s of air to air heat pumps. We didn’t even use all of that either. In the summer, we only turned on the air conditioning about three times. I’m sure one of those instances was because we were cooking so much in the house that it started to get kind of hot. Compared to a common stick built home, that could easily save you over half on energy consumption to heat and cool.
What is a Resilient building?
There are many different ways to define what a resilient building can be. Resiliency is different to different people. For me, a resilient building is first and foremost the most durable building that you can possibly construct to guard against high winds and extreme weather events. The job of a home is to protect the occupants against the weather at its worst. A resilient building to me is also a building that endures many generations by defying other elements that would otherwise want to break it down such as fire, rot, or insects. The resilient home should also be able to be repaired easily if it does get exposed to any of these instances. I see the recent flooding in New Orleans and my heart goes out to all of those people who have to have their homes completely gutted out in order to keep them from rotting and remaining healthy. If the homes were built differently, much of this could have been avoided and the disruption in people’s lives would be minimal compared to what it actually is now. This is my view and opinion on resilient building. I refer to a great web site, however, for more information. www.resilientdesign.org
These folks are very passionate about this topic and a great resource.
Do you have any issues with moisture and the stucco here in Maine’s climate?
There are no issues with moisture. The blocks perform beautifully in this climate. I have not had any water penetrate any walls, and if there is any excess moisture from the interior of the home it is absorbed into the plaster and concrete and then slowly released into the house as it dries. The stucco is a high performance synthetic stucco developed in Germany but available right here in Maine. It has some elastomeric qualities so it is flexible. It allows vapor to escape out of a wall while remaining completely waterproof to the elements outside. The color is mixed right into the stucco so it can’t peel or flake. It has performed beautifully and I know it will never blow off of the house.
Explain the benefits of Comfort Block in terms of natural disasters such as fire and hurricanes.
Comfort Block is a 16” thick masonry wall system. It is a system that incorporates additional steel and concrete as reinforcement in the wall. So, it’s safe to say that it resists hurricanes better than the common built home we all know. It’s a great place to be if you find yourself within a hurricane. The Comfort Block system, because it is a concrete block system, works well against many types of natural disasters because it does not burn or rot.