Modern alternatives to block buildings

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Anyone familiar with construction techniques in the Yucatan or other parts of Mexico, has seen the familiar block buildings. Block is easy to work with and makes a reasonably strong structure, if several variables are taken into consideration. A block structure is only as strong, as the mortar bonding the blocks together and the traditional Viga and Bovedilla roofs are extremely heavy. The other main issue with block construction is heat transfer, as typical block buildings here, do not have any insulation. I have done some testing with a laser temperature gun. On average a block wall facing the Yucatan sun, is approximately 4 degrees C warmer, than a wall not in the sun. That is a very large difference, if you are using A/C in the evening to cool a bedroom. Not only does the A/C have to overcome the ambient air temperature, but it also has to counter the effects of the Blocks radiating heat into the room.

There are more modern alternatives to block buildings and one of them is structural panels. Structural panels are an interlinked welded zigzag of wire, supporting a styrofoam core. These types of panels have been used for constructing multi story hotels and are hurricane resistant, they are that strong.

Some of the benefits of these types of panels is they are light weight, facilitate a faster build, but also very important is they insulate due to the styrofoam core. The panels come in various thicknesses and sizes, so that they can load a second or more stories or just be the wall for a simple single story home. Structural panels also come especially formed to be roof panels, so the suns energy is not easily transferred to the inside of your home. This also means cool air from your A/C unit does not strike a sun heated surface and warm up. It is the house version of a styrofoam cooler.

We have been working on several projects with the manufacturers tech advisor, using these structural panels.. This has offered our clients a lightweight and insulated option for the addition of second stories, as well as the option to build entirely out of the panels for a thermally efficient home.

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