Rarely used building construction material could have saved California homes from wildfires


    Fires continue to ravage parts of California.

    Northern California fires have destroyed more than 8,000 homes and burned 140,000 acres. At the same time, the Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties has destroyed more than 500 homes and scorched more than 98,000 acres.

    CNBC reports that the building material, 3D cementitious sandwich panel, could have saved some of these homes. A fire can’t start in a 3D panel building since the exterior is concrete and there are no combustible materials. That’s the reason officials in Santa Rosa chose RSG 3-D to rebuild a firewall destroyed by wildfires last year.

    The material has never really taken off in the United States. Wood is the building material of choice. But because of the propensity for wildfires in California, that may change.

    “The United States is blessed with multiple forests and wood was an inexpensive building material, up until the last five years. With the new energy code, especially up in the northern states, and in California, they want net-zero houses,” said Geoffrey Evancic, chief operating officer of Hutter Pioneer, a construction company working with the RSG 3-D panels. “You cannot get to a net-zero house construction with wood.”

    A wood structure will combust almost immediately. And studies show that once a wood structure has four or five percent of the building on fire, it becomes a total loss because there’s no stopping the fire, said Ken Calligar, CEO of RSG 3-D, the company that’s bringing the panel to the U.S. for mass production.



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