Entrepreneur promotes ‘green’ concrete blocks
Former Pinoy Big Brother winner invests in liteblocks company
Seeing a big potential in new construction materials, a Cebu-based actor-businessman and former Pinoy Big Brother winner has invested in a company that offers lightweight “eco-friendly” concrete blocks.
Jan Slater Young started his own company called LiteCrete Philippines which officially started producing Liteblocks this month.
“The liteblock is a cheaper, greener and lighter alternative to hollow blocks which is what most contractors use in buildings,” he said in an interview
The technology is not new to developers in Cebu, but most liteblocks are expensive because they are imported.
“The liteblock is basically concrete but lighter and more insulated because it has micro air bubbles in it. The air bubbles allow for better insulation, thus, helping save energy,” said Young.
The blocks are double the size of conventional hollow blocks and stronger. They can withstand pressure or stress up to 500 pounds-per-square-inch (psi) compared to ordinary hollow blocks with only 300 psi, he said.
“The market, which is influenced by climate change, is starting to demand more environment-friendly materials. That desire to contribute to protecting the environment has fueled more interest in choosing greener alternatives,” he said.
The liteblocks are also 20 percent cheaper than conventional hollow blocks and are easy to install.
“The masons can easily install it. We can demonstrate how to install it, and they usually get it right away, or we install it for them,” he said.
After he won in the reality show Pinoy Big Brother Unlimited in 2012, Young, 27, became better known as an actor, model and TV personality.
He was billed in the show as “the hotshot engineer of Cebu.”
Young, who is a licensed civil engineer, said he studied the technology of liteblocks and developed a prototype before finally testing and perfecting it with the help of his father who runs a construction company.
Young opened a 2,000-square meter production plant for the liteblocks which can produce about 3,000 liteblocks a day.
“For now, we are producing only half of that capacity because we are still starting to offer the product in the market,” said Young, who has 15 employees in his company.
Young also started a real estate company last year with his friends called YKC Realty.
For their first project, they are developing six high-end house and lot units in Busay Highland, a subdivision developed by his father.
“Our model unit is under construction now and will be using liteblocks. In that way, we can also promote the use of liteblocks in Cebu,” said Young.
Some warehouses in the Mactan Economic Processing Zone developed by his father’s company HiSpeed Construction were built using liteblocks.
“The contractors and developers already know about the technology, and it’s not difficult to convince them to use it. What I would like to push further is for individual homeowners to also appreciate it,” said Young.
As an ambassador for Habitat for Humanity, Young said that he plans to partner with the organization for projects that will utilize liteblocks, which are also used in the rehabilitation of Phuket, Thailand after it was devastated by a tsunami in 2004.
Young said the liteblocks can help build stronger and more cost-efficient homes for those still recovering from calamities.
Young said he is also studying the possibility of producing prefabricated liteblock concrete and aims to offer it in the market soon.
As of 2013, the country’s demand for cement, the main ingredient in concrete, reached 18 million tons and, is projected to grow by at least 15 percent every year fueled by an active construction industry especially in major cities like Cebu.
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