Insulated concrete form plant opening in Lumberton soon

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Published: June 25,2007

An insulated concrete form plant is opening in Lumberton that may greatly improve how South Mississippi buildings withstand hurricanes. On July 9, Mississippi Greenbuilt Corporation will begin production of polystyrene form blocks that are filled with concrete before used in construction.

Plant owner Hensley Lee and Lumberton Mayor Aaron Lott are working together to open the facility. Lee has worked with temporary disaster housing for FEMA for 25 years and has seen this product hold up through storms.

“This product is really big in Florida where they’ve started building with it,” he said. “It’s designed as a form with rebar coming up through the slab that connects to the walls. To blow over, it would have to tumble like dice.”

Lee says the product has wind tested to 300 miles per hour but will carry the standard testing grade of 240 miles per hour. “No one knows what the wind amount really is. Buildings made with this product may be the only thing standing in some areas,” he said. “Contractors are ecstatic about it, and would be building with it this minute if it was available.”

Plans are to bring builders from Florida to train Mississippi contractors in use of the forms.

Lott is especially pleased to have the plant in Lumberton where it will create 16 to 20 direct jobs and another approximate 1,000 ancillary jobs for workers in concrete, steel, transportation and other industries. One ancillary facility, Coulter Stone & Brick, has already opened in the area.

“Mississippi Greenbuilt Corporation will help our town, and it will help the massive rebuilding effort on the Coast because we’re close to that area,” he said. “The facility is opening in an old dilapidated property on Highway 11 that was an eyesore for the town. Now, other businesses around it are cleaning up, too. It’s also helping get our Main Street program going again.”

Another driving factor is Lumberton’s proximity to the University of Southern Mississippi’s Polymer Science Department. Lott says the university’s scientists have teamed up with plant organizers to bring their expertise to the effort.

Lott, who serves in the part-time mayor position, has attended numerous meetings to learn more about the polystyrene form blocks, including one with visitors from Venezuela.

Lee said the factory already has deals with developers who’re building 200- to 300-unit subdivisions, and that builders are coming to them to find out more about the product. Others interested include environmentalists and candidates for the state’s Public Service Commission.

“Everyone is trying to build green, but we’re doing something about it,” Lott said. “We’ve had calls from all over.”

The product is also energy efficient and a great insulator. Lott and Lee said it will reduce power bills, thus earning a U.S. Department of Energy tax credit, as well as qualifying for reduced insurance rates.

“It’s very enticing,” Lee said. “Can you imagine having a light bill of $60 or $70 a month? I’ve seen it work in Florida.”

They point out the positive applications of this product for commercial and government buildings as well as residential building. “It’s very advantageous for government buildings and housing,” Lott said. “It will be great for the state.”

Lee, who’s scaling back his work with FEMA, recently returned from tornado-stricken Greensboro, Kan., where these blocks are in demand.

“I’m not as active with FEMA now but will continue to do some work on a limited basis,” he said. “I want to do something at home, and I see a bright future for this product. This will be a big thing south of Interstate 10.”

Rick Carbello, national sales manager for Mississippi Greenbuilt Corporation, said calls are coming in from all over the country and that business is off to a good start for the new company. For more information about the product, visit http://www.msgreenbuilt.com/.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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