Preserving the Environment

There’s a Surprisingly Green Use for Styrofoam

January 22, 2014
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There’s a Surprisingly Green Use for Styrofoam
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It's not the most earth-friendly material around, but Styrofoam is actually incredibly efficient for building homes.

Here’s the thing about polystyrene, AKA Styrofoam: It biodegrades slowly, pollutes our planet and makes annoying squeaking noises when rubbed on anything. But if you consider some of its other qualities — it’s long-lasting, lightweight, easily molded, and found everywhere as a waste product — it becomes the perfect building block for homes.

The use of Styrofoam in buildings, called Insulated Concrete Form (ICF), has been around for decades, but it’s rarely found in residential buildings. However, one such home is being constructed right now in Old Greenwich, Conn., the Stamford Advocate reports. “It’s incredibly energy efficient and environmentally responsible,” Michael Murphy of the construction company, Murphy Brothers Contracting, said. “People think of Styrofoam as bad for the environment, but that’s because it doesn’t deteriorate. It’s bad to throw away. For building something meant to last for a long time, Styrofoam is actually great.”

As the publication reports, the home’s entire exterior is being made of hollow, easily stackable Lego-like Styrofoam blocks that will later be filled in with concrete, thus eliminating the need for plywood. Also, anyone who has ever used a Styrofoam cooler knows that the material is a great insulator, which means the Greenwich home will require less energy for heating and cooling. Sounds like a dream home.

MORE: Will This Be the Largest Energy-Free Building in the World?

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