What's so special about Integrity Block?

A residential landscaping project using Integrity Block.
A residential landscaping project using Integrity Block.
Photo courtesy Integrity Block

­It's as inevitable as the winter holidays. Near the end of the year, every publication, organization or armchair critic releases a best-of list. We catalog the movies that made us laugh, the books that made us cry, the ­inventions that changed the world and the people who inspired us over the past 12 months. At the end of 2008, BuildingGreen, a publishing company that specializes in green design information, announced its top 10 green products of the year. Among the entries was something called Integrity Block, which is claimed to be the first green replacement for the concrete block.

It's already hard enough to distinguish one green product from another, let alone discern whether it's even truly environmentally friendly. Is Integrity Block really any different? But even if you're suspicious of another top 10 list with seemingly arbitrary listings, you're probably a little bit intrigued, especially if you know a few things about cement and concrete. Cement, the main ingredient in concrete, takes a great deal of energy to produce and results in huge carbon emissions. The production of 1 ton of cement releases 1 ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere [source: Sturrock]. Further compounding the problem is our reliance on the substance -- concrete is the second most consumed substance on earth, trailing water [source: Zawicki].

Integrity Block Inc., the manufacturer of Integrity Block, isn't the first company to consider how cement could be produced in a more environmentally responsible manner. Many other people have tried to determine a new production process or list of ingredients that might be friendlier to ­the Earth. Still, even with everyone's best efforts, any replacement would have a lot to live up to. Concrete is an extremely durable building material that many know and trust. You'd want something just as strong, easy to use and about the same price before you switched to a new product, right?

Go to the next page to find out why this Integrity Block just might fit your needs.