Zero Cement Masonry for Carbon Neutral Construction

Zero Cement Masonry for Carbon Neutral Construction

Masonry construction is one of the most common construction systems available and at the same time it makes part of the use of one of the most pollutant material: cement.
Onwards to sustainable developments, you must already know by know (if not, expand here), that construction makes part for the 6% of carbon emissions that make up for the greenhouse effect we are currently living and in consequence it also accounts for water scarcity and of course climate change.

Our task as humankind, is to find solutions to reduce these environmental effects and as an Architect, this blog my support to that matter. For this I would like to share one of my latest findings, the Zero Cement Masonry by Watershed Materials.

Watershed Materials have managed to acquire a new masonry block using natural geo-polymers derived from clays only.

“Geopolymers are a new technology that provide an alternative to Portland cement used in concrete and masonry. Until now, geopolymers have mostly relied on fly ash, a byproduct of burning coal, or blast furnace slag, a byproduct of iron and steel production.”


Segment of a test for a zero cement masonry block. “Test samples have achieved compressive strengths of 7,000 psi – twice the strength of ordinary concrete – with no cement, no fly ash, no blast furnace slag, and requiring no high temperature firing.”- Image Source: Watershed Materials.Find the Patent for Geopolymer Cement here.

Geopolymers have also been utilized in the past by the romans, builders par excellence and pioneers on the use of lime, which in the end got substituted by cement. Today to obtain Geopolymers, companies have relied on the previously cited materials, mostly by burning.  This new mixture, provided by Watershed Materials is a revolutionary construction product that add sustainable points to constructions relying on CMU.


Where Geopolymers come from. Illustration by Todd Harrison, found on

As this infographic narrates, geopolymers come from natural renewable resources eliminating the polluting process in cement manufacturing. The permanence that Roman construction proved using lime and other soils, is now proven by a new for of geo-polymerization of a specific natural red clay, allowing a masonry block with a high compressive strength of 7000 PSI, which is higher than traditional CMU (Concrete Masonry Units).

Undoubtedly, this block has enormous potential for constructions in tropical climates. Watershed Block currently qualifies for LEED 2009 in the following categories, allowing for the maintenance of their qualification for LEED V4.

  • Energy and Atmosphere | EA 1 | Optimize Energy
  • Materials and Resources | MR4 | Recycled Content
  • Materials and Resources | MR5 | Local / Regional Material
  • Materials and Resources | MR8 | Durable Building

Read more about it here.



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Mabelle Plasencia

Founder and Editor at INmatteria©
• Architect | LEED AP BD+C, with an intense passion for materiality, innovation, technology and science. • Arquitecta | LEED AP BD+C apasionada por la materialidad, innovación, tecnología y ciencia.