New building material could save homeowners thousands

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GALLUP, N.M. (AP) - What Dan Kruis was holding in his hand looked like something the a fifth-grader would put together two hours before his science project was due.

But the piece of Styrofoam between two pieces of cementious SIP - structurally integrated panel - can save prospective homeowners in this area thousands of dollars in construction costs and hundreds of dollars annually in heating costs, Kruis said.

That's why Kruis, a local housing developer, will use it in the 122 houses he is planning to build in a subdivision north of Gallup.

He came before the McKinley County Commission in April to explain his plans to use the product in future construction projects and announced that he was in the process of starting a company to manufacture the blocks.

Kruis has been a big promoter over the years of constructing houses that are environmentally sound as well as easy on the pocketbook.

Homeowners, he said, will find the product "less expensive, more energy efficient, structurally superior and more comfortable" than other materials ordinarily used to build houses.

He pointed to a small strip mall that was built a couple of years ago just north of the city limits on U.S. 491. The mall was built of a similar type of SIP, but instead of using a panel of cement in either side of the Styrofoam, it used wood, which is more expensive, Kruis said.

He's a fan of the product, pointing out that environmentally it could change the world, or at least the United States.

Kruis said if all the houses in the country were built of this product, homeowners would save about 50 percent on their heating. Since as much oil is converted to heating as it is for producing gasoline, it would mean that the United States would no longer have to import any oil.

And if builders begin using the product instead of convenient-type building materials in the future, it could make a major difference in just five to seven years on oil imports, he said.

But that's the world's problem. Kruis right now is more concerned with building houses in the Gallup area that are green and won't cost an arm and leg.

So he is now seeking investors to back a plant that would manufacture the product not only for his use but for others who want to use it for their construction projects.

He pointed out that retrofitting older homes would cost about $15,000 but would reduce heating costs for the next 30 years, saving the family much more than that in heating costs.

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He expects that it will cost about $100,000 to get the site set up and another $150,000 for the inventory. If all goes well, the plant could be up and operating by the end of summer and eventually employ as many as 30 people, he said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

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