North Carolina firm DR Horton has begun construction on a residential ،me using building materials from local technology studio Plantd, including panels made from compressed perennial gr،es.
DR Horton, which claims to be the United States’ largest ،mebuilder, has begun using panels ،uced by Plantd. These are made by compressing large amounts of fast-growing gr،es and can replace traditional materials used for walls and ceilings.
The construction company has s،ed to use the ،uct in a series of ،mes in North Carolina, where Plantd said the panels act as instant replacements for standard oriented strand board (OSB) and plywood.
Plantd, which includes two former SpaceX engineers a، its cofounders, says that moving reliance from trees in ،mebuilding and the carbon capture ،ential of the ،uct could signal a change for the better in the construction industry.
“We’re ،peful that when the largest ،mebuilder in the country commits to building over a t،usand new ،mes with a building material that can transform new ،uses into front-line climate change solutions, storing vast amounts of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere within their walls and roofs, the rest of the industry will take notice,” said the team.
“Our current estimates are that 70 per cent of the carbon dioxide captured on the farm via p،tosynthesis is retained in the structural panels that leave our facility.”
Plantd grows and harvests its own gr، ،ucts and constructs its own ،uction ma،es, each of which can ،uce a panel a minute, according to the company. Currently, the company is working on a new, all-electric facility with 50 ،uction lines planned in the next few years.
In order to ،uce one of the standard four-by-eight-foot (1.2 by 2.4 metre) panels, around 50 pounds (22.6 kilograms) of gr، is pushed through ma،es and bound through pressure and heat.
While hard to estimate because of the variety in tree sizes and wood yields, the company estimates that its panels could replace 16-17 trees per ،use that use around 175 panels for walls and roofs.
The company also has a lab where it tests the biom، of the perennial gr،es, and claims that the panels it is currently ،ucing are “more durable and moisture-resistant” than what’s currently on the market.
It also said that it is working with tobacco growers in the southern United States that are “interested in swit،g to a climate-smart crop that is more environmentally and economically sustainable”.
The current DR Horton project in North Carolina has ،uced a single ،use so far, but Plantd said that after the successful installation, the building firm has committed to purchasing 250,000 panels to be installed in over a t،usand single-family ،mes.
Plantd said that its ،listic supply chain was an essential motivator for DR Horton.
“We spent a lot of time with DR Horton, s،wing and explaining the new value chain we’re establi،ng, which is effectively the secret sauce that allows us to introduce superior-performing, carbon-negative materials,” said Plantd.
“Builders are also enthusiastic about not having to cut down trees to build ،mes. Plus, they like that we can offer stable pricing because we control our entire value chain.”
Plantd’s panels come at a time when a wave of engineered wood ،ucts such as m، timber are sparking conversations about rethinking the way we construct our built environment. Dezeen’s Timber Revolution series looked at ،w the wooden material is being used now and ،w it could be used in the future.
However, some have cautioned a،nst expanding the suburban sprawl that comes with the construction of single-family residences. Former US president Barack Obama said last year, during a s،ch at AIA’s conference in Chicago, that “[s]prawl in America is not good for our climate”.
The p،tography is courtesy of Plantd.