One of the cement sinks in the Cement Elegance showroom.
When most of us think of cement, we think of heavy, chunky, drab, gray, slabs that are usually elements of construction to be covered with a more aesthetically pleasing material. When innovation meets function, cement becomes beautiful and simply, a smart choice for building green. Desert Rain embraced the concept when the local Bend business, Cement Elegance came on board. Bayard Fox is the president of Integral Industries, doing business as Cement Elegance. The business has two primary areas of focus. The cement side is composed of NatureCast concrete – sinks, countertops, furniture, fireplaces, showers and floors. The other side of the industry is Eco Crush, manufactured stone slab products called ‘Crush’ – composed of – recycled concrete, recycled window glass, and a plant based bio-resin.
The custom cement sinks and countertop for the master bath at Desert Rain in the process of final finishing.
Cement Elegance began work at Desert Rain with the polishing of the cement floors. Regarding the technique and results of the diamond polishing, Bayard said, ‘It’s a really good story for environmental building. You are using something that is already there as part of the structure’. The polishing technique turns the cement slab into the finished floor. This eliminates the need for additional materials. The floor is durable, beautiful, and has a long lifespan.
A custom countertop mold laid ready for the first layer.
NatureCast sinks and countertops will also be placed in Desert Rain. Cement Elegance has been manufacturing the product for 5 years. Bayard stated there has been an increase in use of concrete for countertops over the last 20 years. The product offers a unique and more natural material than the laminated plastics that dominated the industry for years. NatureCast has even more appeal for green building. It is comprised of local, Oregon materials – cement, sand, and water. The core of the product is made of recycled EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam. This is material that would normally end up in a landfill. With the addition of vitrominerals, an industrial waste product from fiberglass manufacturing, and advanced technology; NatureCast is lightweight, stronger, and crack free. It uses one-eighth the amount of concrete compared to a solid concrete countertop. Designs are based on templates, made to size so there is no cutting and no waste material. The cement and core material is sprayed into the form instead of being poured. The materials and process creates an engineered strength four times greater than traditional cement.
The shallow, water -saving, laundry room sink and countertop for Desert Rain.
A countertop removed from the mold and curing.
NatureCast concrete countertops and sinks are an environmentally smart choice and aesthetically beautiful for Desert Rain. Cement Elegance and Integral Industries is a shining example of the Desert Rain project gathering the ‘best of the best’. Part of the process of building a Living Building Challenge home is seeking out and supporting local businesses and contractors that embrace the concept and scope of the Materials Petal and its imperatives. Integral Industries is manufacturing products for environmentally friendly building. They are making choices about their products and processes with an awareness of their impact on the environment.
Environmentally Friendly Building Practices used by Integral Industries
- local raw materials – carbon footprint/transportation
- post industrial waste materials used – save the landfills
- custom fit – eliminates waste
- durability and longevity
- due diligence in the procurement of raw materials and construction practices
- promotes healthy indoor environment – no volatile organic-based perservatives
Some of the shipping container offices – part of the showroom at Cement Elegance.
Like the concrete sinks and countertops on display, the showroom at Cement Elegance is a work of art as well. With stairs, catwalks, and creative placement; shipping containers are stacked and arranged like a sculpture inside the building. The individual containers have beautiful interiors and are rented as office space. Bayard Fox has a vision for business: make high-quality, durable, aesthetically desirable products; make use of post-consumer recycled waste, make as little impact as possible on the environment in the manufacturing process, make jobs and support the local economy, and to be sustainable as a business – make money. After visiting the showroom and shops, I would say it is a vision in motion – a simply elegant plan to create simply elegant products.
The simple elegance of a NatureCast sink.