• Tech Tech

Company creates incredible Lego-like bricks to build ‘hurricane-proof fortresses’: ‘For the sake of future generations’

Exploring new housing materials that better withstand the elements is part of the way we can adapt our lifestyles to protect ourselves.

Exploring new housing materials that better withstand the elements is part of the way we can adapt our lifestyles to protect ourselves.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The founders of Nova Scotia’s JD Composites have unlocked “bulletproof” potential in old plastic bottles. 

The result is a new way to build homes — also being billed as “hurricane-proof fortresses” — in storm-heavy regions. What’s more, the structures can utilize at least some of the vast amounts of plastic waste we produce each year, according to The Globe and Mail.  

“For the sake of future generations, we need to start listening to the planet,” the narrator of a video clip from the JD Composites website states. 

David Saulnier and Joel German started the company in 2018 following work on a cold storage project using plastic waste. The recycled bottle material they were using offered an alternative pathway, as the video documents. 

“It wasn’t long before we realized the potential of what we could do with the same material,” German said in the clip. 

Fascinatingly, they shelved the storage plans and went into home construction with the goal of building the Superman of dwellings, made with 100% recycled plastic bottles, per the clip. 

The process turns the bottles into foam sheets. Armacell, with a location in Ontario, makes the foam, according to the Globe. Laminates are added to make the sheets rigid. That product is then turned into walls for housing with the help of computer-guided cutters, per the outlet. 

In the video, the men cite plastic pollution’s abundance on Earth, found on the tallest peaks and deepest oceans, as an onus for the endeavor. The United Nations reports that we produce nearly 441 million tons of plastic waste annually. 

In JD’s first year of operation, the men claim they recycled “the equivalent” of more than two million plastic bottles. 

On the housing side, the company bills its material as a solution for hurricanes, flooding, and even forest fires. The Globe reports that the panels were “tested twice” to withstand Category 5 hurricanes. Severe weather, like 2022’s Hurricane Fiona (a post-tropical storm when it hit Canada), caused hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage, noted the news outlet. Excessive destruction is even impacting how insurances cover certain areas of North America. 

Exploring new housing materials that better withstand the elements is part of the way we can adapt our lifestyles to protect our homes and even save money. 

JD Composites’ bottle-based materials are designed to be put together on location, sort of like Lego — a concept borrowed by other innovators, as well. 

“My homes are basically like a piece of Lego — wall, roof, floor, interface — as opposed to regular homes, which are relying on mechanical attachments like nails and screws,” Saulnier told the Globe.

The panels they make are rot and mildew resistant. They are independently tested to withstand high wind, per the news agency. 

“It’s pretty near impossible to destroy one of my homes with wind,” Saulnier said in the story from the Globe. “In fact, they can’t even tell me when my walls would fail because their testing equipment wouldn’t go that high.”

The homes look modern and stylish, with all the amenities most people expect. But among the features on the specs page are traits many homes don’t highlight, like “fire retardant” and “water resistant” structural parts.

Photos of current projects on the company website include a two-story home, decking, and roof work, among other jobs. 

The two-story house, which would fit right in at any suburban development in America, used 475,000 plastic bottles. It went up with a “quick and quiet onsite assembly,” per JD Composites. 

“All the things that are taxing on conventional homes, people are realizing it when they ask or inquire about my stuff,” Saulnier said to the Globe. 

Join our free newsletter for weekly updates on the coolest innovations improving our lives and saving our planet.

Cool Divider