Find out more and read updates here. Plastiblok, with headquarters in Paducah, Kentucky, manufactures Lok-N-Blok. The product’s straightforward design, scalability, and sustainability are attracting national attention. Constructing with Lok-N-Blok is similar to building with Legos in that it can be stacked and locked into place. In addition, the Seattle-based professional soccer team Sounders FC has now made an official announcement: Seattle-based venture general contracting will serve as the construction manager for the massive Sounders FC Center at Longacres, the team’s new state-of-the-art home in Renton, Washington. On top of that, would it be possible to construct concrete structures using a 3D printer even more quickly and easily? The invention made by Alex Bell involved increasing the size of structures and pouring concrete into them.
This Kentucky startup is globalizing its sustainable construction materials
Greg Siener and his best friend, Mike Zumer, tried three times to build a retaining wall in 1996.
Siener: “We joked that giant Legos would make the job easier.” We giggled.
The joke dragged on him. The next day, he hand-drew the idea. Siener and his brother Steve run a material handling-focused automation and electrical engineering company.
He suggested the concept to his brother. Lok-N-Blok is a largely recycled building material that stacks and locks like Legos.
Siener is president and CEO of Plastiblok, which makes Lok-N-Blok. Simple construction, scalability, and sustainability are drawing national attention.
Siener claims the 50% polypropylene plastic block is green. Polypropylene is 47% recycled. Plastic waste from a job site can be crushed down and reused.
Siener: “We don’t chemically alter our products.” “We make it so it can be a reground and used in other materials, or reground and used to make more.”
Lok-N-Blok may be reused, which is sustainable. A stackable building can be dismantled and the blocks reused.
Lok-N-durability Blok’s is unaffected. The product can endure fire, water, mold, and sound as well as other materials.
Siener: “It’s 10 times stronger than a concrete block.”
The product debuted almost 20 years ago, but it hasn’t been utilized in the U.S. After securing a patent, the Siener brothers and Zumer founded Plastiblok in 2012. It built a prototype that year. Since then, testing and approval have been obstacles.
Siener: “We invented a new building category for composite reinforced structural building components.” Even code officials are surprised. They’re seeing something new. “
The block lacked testing criteria. Plastiblok had to build a code method with the International Code Council to test and commercialize the product.
This process took till June 2018.
“We were held up for six years merely building a code, a testing criterion, and how we were going to test it,” Siener said.
After the test was created, it took two years to complete. Plastiblok unveiled Lok-N-Blok at the International Builders’ Show in Orlando in February.
Siener claimed the company had thousands of requests after the show. Plastiblok submitted the design to numerous states, including Kentucky, for approval.
Siener said the Kentucky commissioner told them they must prove the structure won’t fail. “We hired an independent lab to do all our testing, as required by the ICC, and we have opinion letters saying we meet the rules.” Even then, they don’t want another’s opinion. “
That’s Lok-N-Blok in the U.S. While some states haven’t approved it yet, it’s been accepted in five others and will be used in subsequent projects, starting with Peru.
first Lok-N-Blok project: 40,000 apartments for Peru’s military and police. Siener claimed the block was cleared within a few months of its inception.
Seiner said Peru will fund the project with several hundred million dollars. Australia’s Meriton Group is the general contractor, and Miami’s Zyscovich is the architect.
It’ll begin in 2023 and take 5 years. After that, the country aims to build a hotel and an airport in Cuzco, Machu Picchu’s home. Plans are being made.
Guatemala and the Dominican Republic also have cheap housing schemes.
Siener said other governments are using the block increasingly. Construction without water is one reason. Cement construction sites utilize a lot of water, a rare resource in such countries. He stated that it helped sell Peru projects.
Siener: “We’ve had queries from outside and inside the U.S.” “I have a database of over 20,000 people who have inquired about our product, and I could presume 50% are foreign.”
He wouldn’t reveal firm revenue. Plastiblok received $4 million from Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation.
Plastiblok continues to work for U.S. approval. Siener believes the device can reduce the construction industry’s carbon impact and provide more dwellings more quickly.
Siener: “We’ve produced a product that can change the world.” Everyone requires housing, so this product can affect you wherever you are.
Venture General Contracting is Sounders FC’s construction lead
The new team facility is housed at Boeing’s former Longacres headquarters and was announced in February. The club is working with Unico Properties on the project, and Venture is now the general contractor.
“We’re excited to take the next steps in developing the Sounders FC Center at Longacres,” stated CFO Tom Riley. “This is more than a new building. It’s about giving Sounders FC a place. to grow, win titles, and serve the community. Venture was chosen to lead construction because they understand the purpose. Their commitment to enhancing the region through initiatives, community, and sustainability aligns with the Sounders spirit. We’re excited to work with Seattle-based Unico and Venture on Longacres.
As general contractor for the Sounders FC Center at Longacres, Venture is working with Sounders FC, Unico, and Generator Studio – the industry leader in sports design and architecture – to bring the team headquarters to life, including four full-size training pitches and 50,000 square feet of space to house the club’s soccer and business ecosystems together for the first time in Sounders FC history. Venture coordinates with all stakeholders and subcontractors to improve building experiences.
“Our team couldn’t be more enthusiastic about our engagement with the future home of Sounders FC,” said Jack Beaudoin, Partner, Venture General Contracting. Sounders Venture supports Sounders FC’s social justice foundation. As a project partner, we’ll uphold and embody these ideals. We look forward to finding opportunities to further promote their social justice beliefs on the Sounders FC Center at Longacres project. “
Venture General Contractor Partner Matt Parent commented, “We’re honored to work on the Sounders FC Center in Longacres.” “We’re excited to partner with a local nonprofit we love.” “Our company’s philanthropic values connect with the Sounders’ RAVE Foundation, and we’re pleased to use our partnership to give back to the community.”
Sounders FC chose Venture because of its local roots and social responsibilities. Venture’s earnings and charity are reinvested in Seattle and the surrounding area. The company supports Sounders FC’s social justice framework and transformation areas.
Venture actively fosters diversity. It is a founding member of ConstructDiversity, a group of like-minded companies and individuals committed to increasing racial and gender diversity in construction and related businesses by exposing high school students to available career paths and letting them know they are welcome, wanted, and needed. In this program, Venture staff members adopt a student for two hours a week. Students rotate through each month and learn about project management, field operations, accounting, safety, company growth, and trades and fabrication.
Venture seeks out varied subcontractors and suppliers. The Venture divides scope packages and reaches out to various vendors to become pre-approved.
Venture is committed to sustainable methods, which is important to Sounders FC. The company is a USGBC and Salmon-Safe member. Venture is a Salmon-Safe-certified general contractor in the Pacific Northwest. Salmon-Safe designation requires optimum building site management methods to achieve zero sediment runoff. The Sounders FC Center at Longacres will seek Salmon-Safe accreditation to protect water quality and biodiversity.
Venture collaborates with local NGO Forterra to implement its Evergreen Carbon Capture program, which calculates a yearly carbon footprint and plants native trees to store carbon and offset emissions. Tree planting is part of a complete habitat restoration endeavor; these measures reduce carbon emissions and create healthy, resilient forests for future generations. Since 2019, Sounders FC has collaborated with Forterra as part of the same program, becoming the first professional soccer team in North America and the first major American men’s sports team to pledge to carbon neutrality.
The Sounders FC Center at Longacres will be designed with the team’s needs in mind. As the project progresses, design details will be released. The new Sounders FC Center at Longacres will be ready during the 2026 FIFA World Cup as a training site and other needs.
Inflatable structures could rival 3D printing
Could 3D-printed concrete buildings be even faster and easier? Alex Bell’s inventions included expanding buildings and injecting concrete into them.
Bell last built the Bell Cycle, a front-wheel-drive bike with under-seat steering.
Automatic Construction has marketed his novel construction approach, Inflatable Flexible Factory Formwork (IFFF). How it works:
A vehicle delivers a rolled-up PVC “form” to the construction site. This flexible structure resembles a deflated camping mattress.
Air pumps inflate the form’s walls and ceiling after it’s set. This causes it to pop up, assuming the finished structure’s shape. Next, moist concrete is injected into the form’s walls and roof, displacing air.
Once the concrete sets, a solid building shell results. This shell’s form isn’t removed because it’s a watertight, airtight, energy-saving barrier. Add doors, windows, drywall, and siding.
On-site rebar reinforcements have been applied to prototype structures. Bell wants to preinstall rebar, tension wires, and other reinforcing materials in the forms.
What’s the construction rate?
“Inflation takes seven to 10 minutes using air for our 100- and 200-square-foot prototypes,” he said. “The pump filled them in 1.5 hours. Our prototypes are $20 per square foot, including labor. This is the cheapest. “
Bell’s team is selling directly to clients in New York’s Hudson Valley, with one project underway and two signed. His company has signed contracts to deliver a structure to a “major commercial contractor” and a box culvert to an infrastructure contractor.
Along with residences, commercial buildings, and infrastructure, the IFFF technology might be used for swimming pool foundations, rapid-deploy military structures, and even skyscrapers or Mars structures for astronauts.
Summary of today’s construction news
In today’s construction news, Plastiblok is continuing its efforts to gain permission in the United States. Siener believes that the device will be able to lessen the carbon effect that the construction sector has and supply more residences in a shorter amount of time.
Furthermore, the requirements of the Sounders FC team will be taken into consideration during the building process of the Longacres facility. As the work on the project moves forward, more specifics of the design will be disclosed. As a training facility and for meeting other requirements, the new Sounders FC Center at Longacres will be ready for use during the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Moreover, the Bell Cycle, a front-wheel-drive bike with under-seat steering, was Bell’s penultimate offering. Swimming pool bases, rapidly deployable military structures, and even skyscrapers or Mars constructions for astronauts are all possible applications for the IFFF technology alongside homes, businesses, and infrastructure.