Published: 03rd July 2021
The world's first Agrocrete building was built in four days flat by this start-up in Roorkee and has captured 3.1 tons of CO2. Here's how
Made by GreenJams Infrastructures, this structure is constructed with Agrocrete, blocks made of agro-waste. The cost of construction was reduced by 30% and in less than 40% of the time required
What can one accomplish in four days?
Finish a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle?
Read the latest Jeffrey Archer cover to cover twice?
Construct a 1,058 square feet manufacturing unit perhaps?
Because this is what the futuristic team of GreenJams has accomplished. But there are many other firsts involved in this project. But first, a little walk down memory lane.
Call it a CleanTech or a social enterprise, GreenJamsjoints, based out of Visakhapatnam and Roorkee is into carbon-negative building materials. Their Agrocrete and HempBloc are made of agricultural waste and come with a host of benefits including 50% reduction in construction cost, 50% higher thermal insulation and it weighs 30% lesser... Do we need to go on? In May this year, they were selected for the prestigious MassChallenge Switzerland 2021 accelerator programme, the Nidhi Prayas programme and whatnot. Brothers Tarun and Varun Jami started this journey in July 2017, and every step of the way, they have been growing stronger.
So this year, they decided to shift out of their manufacturing unit in Roorkee and decided to construct a larger one with, you guessed it, Agrocrete. "Our initial place was smaller and we couldn't store more than 600 blocks of Agrocrete, which is how much we produce in a day. So we wanted a larger space to house all our manufacturing equipment," explains Tarun. Since Agrocrete blocks, which were used in place of the traditional red bricks, are 30% lighter, the masons could work with it faster. Also, the blocks are slightly larger as well with good load-bearing capabilities and strength. Hence, there were fewer blocks required and the work happened quickly. Also, the cost of construction will blow your mind — less than Rs 200 per square feet was spent on construction as opposed to Rs 500 per square feet, which is a number arrived at if you use the cheapest, low-quality brick available. Quite a feat, won't you say? This was accomplished last February, in four days flat, and now, here comes another first.
We told you that Agrocrete is made from agricultural waste, right? For which the team doesn't even travel more than ten kilometres from their unit. But what binds this is BINDR, another one of their products which they launched in March 2021. "It wasn't just the need of the hour with regards to climate consciousness, but it was also a technical necessity," explains Tarun, who is a PhD Scholar at Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee.
Biomass and cement (used to bind the agro-waste) are not compatible at all and the blocks would just crumble and the youngster had to learn it the hard way. Enter BINDR, a low-carbon replacement of Portland cement made of industrial co-products. It is not only made of 100% upcycled materials, but also consumes less water and gives out 80% less carbon emissions than Portland cement. "Perfecting BINDR is a lifelong journey because we are constantly finding more and more new ways to make it more efficient and feasible," admits the entrepreneur. So the team used BINDR for the mortar joints, plastering and flooring. "In the right hands, BINDR by itself has an interesting artistic feel to it," he says. By using all these carbon-negative materials, they were able to capture 3.1 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The masons seemed pretty happy when it came to working with this new-age construction material. "In fact, a few of them said that it was harder and more time-consuming to make the construction pads and the scaffolding on which they usually stand and carry out the main construction work," shares Traun and chuckles. Since Agrocrete is lighter, it was easier to work with as well.
Next up for GreenJams is that though COVID has dampened their spirits, just like it has for all of us, they are happy to note that all the projects that they have in their kitty have come to them organically. "It shows that there are consumers out there who are inclined towards sustainability and are conscious about it," established Tarun. And now that there is a growing awareness about greenwashing, where a company presents a misleading picture about how environmentally conscious their products are, CleanTech and other start-ups like them should expect tougher questions to come their way. "They will want to know if we have accounted for water footprint and so on," he says. And they are ready for it.
For more on them check out greenjams.org