Upcycle Santa Fe is raising money to complete testing of open-source building materials made from post-consumer plastic waste. This testing is composed of two parts - one researching and documenting the exact R-values (insulation ratings) of Ecobricks and Ubuntu-Blox, and the other the rate and speed at which these materials will burn in a structural fire (flame-spread). The tests will be carried out by Intertek in Pennsylvania, providing the groundwork for meeting building codes in NM and eventually elsewhere, and will ultimately allow us to build the first full-scale plastic insulated structures in the United States.
We have already had a study completed by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which documented that plastic waste used as insulation material does not have any significant off-gassing of chemicals in comparison with modern insulation available in stores. Thank you to everyone who donated to fund that important research!
The use of Ecobricks was first documented on the shores of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala by the organization Pura Vida Atitlan. Susana Heisse, the founder of the organization, noticed an elderly man sitting on his porch one day stuffing plastic wrappers into a plastic bottle. The idea was borne to utilize these "ecobricks" as a wall-filling insulation material. Several test walls were subsequently built, and ecobricks were eventually utilized to insulate full scale structures, including some schools around Atitlan. The organization Hug It Forward is currently leading the way in Central America, having built 120 "bottle schools" in Guatemala in the last 8 years, and other ecobrick projects have sprung up all around the world.
Ubuntu-Blox were first developed by the inventor Harvey Lacey, as a humanitarian response to the devastating earthquakes that rocked Haiti in 2010. In his homeland of Texas, Harvey welded together a prototype press that could make bales out of waste styrofoam (Ubuntu-Blox). Shortly after he traveled to Haiti to train a host of locals to build the press, and furthermore build earthquake-safe structures using the Ubuntu-Blox. Harvey visited us in 2014 to teach us the upcycling / building system. Under his guidance we built a new, bigger press out of wood, and a wall out of Ubuntu-Blox. We have been developing and sharing this open-source technology ever since, and have begun to utilize Ubuntu-Blox as a catch-all for any type of plastic.
Upcycle Santa Fe's mission is to see these solutions spread as rapidly as possible. We are dedicated to the open-source, the affordable and the effective. We are working to build a prototype system where all plastics can be utilized as valuable resources - not thrown away to be noxious pollutants. This work will allow us to build bigger and better structures, and to share this knowledge with the whole of the world. Thank you in advance for your gracious donations and belief in this work that we do.