Let’s be “Pozzotive®”.

As we’ve dived into the great green world of triple bottom line, those in-the-know have found the sweet spots where they “do well by doing good”.

Today’s business spotlight is on Kingston Block and Masonry Supply, LLC, in Kingston, NY. This is a family owned business in an industry that is heavily traditional, and broad-brushed with the environmental taint of mining for Portland cement and aggregates. But times change and the truly innovative and realistic look for opportunities, assess them, take steps, and grow the results. (see my previous blog on 9 Habits).

It all started, according to Lou Grasso, managing partner of the company, with Bob Fox of COOKFOX Architects mentioning that if masonry block could be made using some garbage, it would be wonderful. CMU, as a significant component by weight in some buildings, would make a huge difference with recycled content calculation and help win LEED points while diverting refuse from a landfill.

Little did Bob know the powerful seed of intent this comment would plant. Lou started looking into fly ash and other pozzolan (see Wikipedia.org) additives. Fly ash is a waste product of coal combustion, from smelting and power plants, and using it in concrete reduces use of cement. Cement production emits approximately 2,000 pounds of co2 for each ton, making replacement with other, less emmissive products a good choice. Fly ash can increase the strength of concrete, yet it delays curing time, and most importantly it also contains crystalline silicates and heavy metals which are of concern, especially in any interior use. This is in debate, as many consider the toxins safely encapsulated, yet the debate exists.

Concerns about flyash:  Healthy Buildings Network and flyash

Positive future outlook for flyash:

The Future of Fly Ash Use in Concrete

Industry Publication, featuring Kingston Block and Masonry

Industry Publication, featuring Kingston Block and Masonry

So what other waste could be a valued inclusion? Lou started to assess recycled glass as an option. When milled to the order of microns it turns all white, no matter the glass color, and this post-consumer supplementary cementitious material (SCM) has the same benefits as fly ash without the toxic concerns. Pozzotive® contains no harmful heavy metals and it’s an amorphous silica, not a toxic crystalline silica. For each pound of replaced cement, we avoid a pound of CO2 emissions. In their new process, a CMU with Pozzotive® has 83% less embodied energy than a CMU using solely Portland cement.

  • Use local aggregates, and reduce embodied carbon related to travel.
  • Add in recycled aggregates and reduce the embodied carbon even more.
  • Create a market for local retrieval of glass for local grinding and local re-introduction into the concrete mix to reduce even more.
Lego model of UN, showing the expanse of windows.

Lego model of UN, showing the expanse of windows.

They did. One example is the fairly recent UN restoration, where the company took the old windows out of the building, ground them, and used the recycled glass SCM in the concrete pavers now installed in the UN plaza, in the shadow of their previous use!


So what is going on with Kingston Block and Masonry? They have won many awards. They were one of the Building Green top ten products (in 2009), awarded the Innovative Green Design Award by House Magazine (in 2010), and selected as the EPA Region 2 Environmental quality award winner (in 2011)…and now, they have formed a second company to move this work even further. Every bit of this represents business savvy AND environmentally charged passion.

Rock on, masonry and block!

You see Pozzotive® can be used in more than just CMU. It can be a paint additive to increase durability, or in roadway striping paint to increase shine, or…well, imagine even more applications. The new company, Urban Mining, Northeast,  is specializing in the materials management side of this opportunity. It’s time to bring recycling into the real market as driven by local demand and local cycles of use, capture, sourcing, transport and reuse. Who better to develop this system for recycled glass than a company with the vision to create a new product that is the same as it always has been, yet better in every way?

Congrats to Kingston Block and Masonry on your bright green future, supporting our greener construction.

Thanks for being innovative, realistic, and committed.




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