Sustainable Building Materials Innovator, Watershed Materials, Selected as a Finalist for SXSW Eco Startup Showcase Competition

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Watershed Materials chosen as a finalist among the strongest group of startups for the Greentech category of SXSW Eco’s entrepreneurial pitch competition, the Startup Showcase. Watershed Materials will present its leading technology for manufacturing a green, low carbon, sustainable masonry building product called the Watershed Block.

Watershed Block - low cement masonry block with the appearance of natural stone.

Watershed Block made with half the cement of an ordinary concrete block. The block derives its natural appearance from the mineralogy of locally sourced recycled material.

I’ve spent 35 years launching technologies to improve the buildings we live in. Watershed Materials is the best yet,” says president David Easton. “We’re building something beautiful and resource conserving, and architects are loving it.

Watershed Materials, a sustainable masonry products manufacturer, was selected as a finalist in the Greentech category for SXSW Eco’s entrepreneurial pitch competition, the Startup Showcase, taking place on October 6-7, 2014 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX.

Watershed Materials was chosen as a finalist in the SXSW Eco entrepreneurial pitch competition based on its cutting-edge approach to solving one of the building industry’s largest environmental problems—the huge CO2 footprint of concrete blocks. Tens of billions of concrete blocks are produced every year for millions of residential and commercial projects. The principle ingredient of concrete blocks is cement, a material with such a high carbon footprint that it alone is responsible for 6% of all CO2 emissions. Sustainability aside, concrete blocks fail to trigger positive aesthetic responses from architects and users.

Watershed Materials presents a solution to these problems—beautiful and versatile masonry units manufactured from crushed rock, earth, recycled concrete, and a host of other inexpensive raw materials. Watershed Materials’ first generation product, the Watershed Block, was designed as a direct replacement for the industry standard concrete block, while offering distinct improvements including less cement, less transportation, higher LEED ratings, lowered carbon footprint, and the look of natural stone. Watershed Block can be produced anywhere in the world from an infinite range of soil, crushed rock, or even demolished buildings.

The first home built entirely of Watershed Block in Napa, California sustained no structural damage during the recent magnitude 6.0 earthquake centered just miles from the home’s location. Not only did the home survive the earthquake with no structural damage, there was no damage to any of the contents inside the home during the area’s strongest earthquake in over twenty years.

The technology builds on decades of experience with Rammed Earth. In nature, rock is produced as pressure accumulates and loose soil grains are fused together into solid stone. Watershed Materials has developed a manufacturing technology that mimics this natural process in a factory environment by applying intense pressure to special soil blends consisting of natural clays and other minerals. The process produces dependable structural block with the strength and durability of concrete and with 65% less embodied energy. With support of the National Science Foundation, Watershed Materials is researching and developing the technology to produce beautiful structural masonry block with zero cement.

“I’ve spent 35 years launching technologies to improve the buildings we live in. Watershed Materials is the best yet,” says president David Easton. “We’re building something beautiful and resource conserving, and architects are loving it.”

The SXSW Eco Startup Showcase, now in its third year, is a rapid-fire pitch competition spotlighting innovative early stage companies in the areas of greentech, cleanweb, and social impact. Finalists in these categories were selected out of a pool of hundreds of applicants from around the world, and will compete at SXSW Eco in front of a live audience and panel of judges from companies the likes of Target, Shell Technology Ventures, the Whole Planet Foundation, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and Sprint. In the past two years, participating companies have gone on to raise over $27M in funding and acquire global brands as clients.

The emcee for the Greentech category will be Mitch Jacobson, Co-director at ATI Clean Energy Incubator and CleanTX Foundation. Judges will include Farshid Arman (Siemens Technology to Business Center); Daniel Carter (Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures); Dawn Lippert (Energy Excelerator); Rebecca Taylor (Shell Technology Ventures), and Dan Watkins, PhD (Mercury Fund).

About Watershed Materials:

Watershed Materials LLC was founded in 2011 to develop technologies and formulations for reducing cement use in masonry products. Co-founders are David Easton, 35-year career pioneering earth building systems with BS from Stanford’s 1970 School of Product Design; Joe Dahmen, professor of architecture at the University of British Columbia who formerly researched sustainable alternatives to concrete at MIT; and Dr. Jose Muñoz, specialist in the effect of synthetic nano-aluminosilicates in high volume fly ash mixtures at the Turner Fairbanks Highway Research Center with a PhD from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Alex Wright
Media Communications
Watershed Materials
(917) 687-9943

About SXSW Eco:

Now in its fourth year, SXSW Eco attracts a global community to explore, engage, and co-create solutions for a sustainable world. The conference takes place October 6-8, 2014 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas. SXSW Eco is sponsored by Austin Energy, Austin Technology Incubator, Lagunitas, the Austin Chronicle, and KDRP.

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Alex Wright
since: 08/2013
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