True Green Homes with AAC

True green homes are made with AAC. The above pictures show what you can do with the building material of the future: AAC. This modern home was built by HBK in Belgium Europe with AAC building blocks.

There is a lot of talk about green building lately. Open up a magazine like Dwell and you will be bombarded by green homes that seem to cost an arm and a leg. Throw in the word "modern architecture" and all of a sudden, prices go up with an additional 100K or much more per 1000sf. But there is absolutely no reason why green modern architecture should cost more than an average home. Green modern architecture is about to go mainstream with the material that is truly green: AAC. America lags Europe, Japan and Australia with advanced green building materials. AAC is a super green building material which has been used in Europe for over half a century. AAC stands for "Autoclaved Aerated Concrete". AAC is also called autoclaved cellular concrete. AAC is now available in the USA through a number of companies including Xella. Xella is the biggest manufacturer of AAC in the USA. AAC goes by different names depending on the manufacturer (AAC is called YTONG in Europe and Hebel in the USA for example) but all of the above are pretty much the same. Additional manufacturers in the USA include E-crete, Aercon and Omnicrete. Surprisingly, green modern architecture is surprisingly rampant in Europe and Japan, because all builders are using AAC. This new green building trend is now finally about to catch on in the USA! Green home owners in the USA can now use this very innovative AAC material people in Europe, Japan and Australia have built their homes with for decades. General Contractors are not familiar yet with the material so please make sure to contact Xella for a reference of an architect or contractor who has used AAC in your area.

Above is another fine example of AAC being used in modern architecture. This modern home is located in Belgium (once again). Belgium seems to be a true modern mecca with an unusual amount of modern and contemporary home projects that are being build.

Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC) is a precast structural product made with all-natural raw materials. In 1914, the Swedes discovered a mixture of cement, lime, water and sand that expands by adding aluminum powder. The material was further developed to what we know today as autoclaved aerated concrete.

AAC is an economical, sustainable, solid block that provides thermal and acoustic insulation as well as fire and termite resistance. AAC is available in a variety of forms, ranging from wall and roof panels to blocks and lintels.

To manufacture AAC, Portland cement is mixed with lime, silica sand, or recycled fly ash (a byproduct from coal-burning power plants), water, and aluminum powder or paste and poured into a mold. The reaction between aluminum and concrete causes microscopic hydrogen bubbles to form, expanding the concrete to about five times its original volume. After evaporation of the hydrogen, the now highly closed-cell, aerated concrete is cut to size and formed by steam-curing in a pressurized chamber (an autoclave). The result is a non-organic, non-toxic, airtight material that can be used for wall, floor, and roof panels, blocks, and lintels which according to the manufacturers, generate no pollutants or hazardous waste during the manufacturing process

AAC units are available in numerous shapes and sizes. Panels are available in thicknesses of between 8 inches to 12 inches, 24-inches in width, and lengths up to 20 feet. Blocks come 24”, 32”, and 48” inches long, between four to 16 inches thick, and eight inches high.

AAC features include structural capacity, thermal, fire, and acoustical resistance properties. With an R-value of approximately 1.25 per inch, dependent on density, AAC significantly outperforms conventional concrete block or poured concrete. Consistency in quality and color may be difficult to obtain in AAC made with fly ash. Unfinished exterior walls should be covered with an exterior cladding or parged with mortar when exposed to physical damage, dirt, and water, because atmospheric debris can collect in the open cells. If installed in high humidity environments, interior finishes with low vapor permeability, and exterior finishes with a high permeability are recommended.

Because of the thermal mass of AAC and its ability to store and release energy over time, AAC may be beneficial in climates where outdoor temperature fluctuates over a 24-hour period from above to below the indoor temperature conditioned air set point.

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