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Now it's time for eco-friendly drywall

SAN FRANCISCO--Drywall, cure thyself.

That's the idea behind EcoRock, an ecologically safer form of drywall coming from Serious Materials. Conventional drywall is made up of gypsum, and making it requires a lot of heating and mixing stages, said Serious CEO Kevin Surace in a conversation at the Cleantech Forum taking place in San Francisco.

"Drywall is the third largest producer of greenhouse gases among building materials. It's behind cement and steel," he said.

200 million tons of carbon dioxide gets injected in the atmosphere a year through drywall production, he added. In the U.S., 50 billion square feet of drywall get produced every year. California and a few other states have also put curbs on opening new gypsum processing facilities. (I do love the crazy facts you get at conferences like this.)

EcoRock is much simpler to manufacture. When the materials used to make EcoRock get mixed together, the chemical reaction takes place on its own. (A lot of chemical reactions take place this way--think of what happens when sodium hits water. Sparks fly without added heat.)

By eliminating heating stages, fossil fuel emissions are cut drastically.

EcoRock actually costs less to make than regular drywall, but the raw materials cost more. In the end, a 4x10-foot sheet of EcoRock drywall might sell for around $20, while standard drywall can range in price from $20 down to $10. The price on EcoRock, however, will decline with mass production, while traditional drywall will likely go up with increases in fuel price.

EcoRock is scheduled to come out in the first quarter of 2008. The company is currently trying to raise $30 million.

Serious is actually already profitable. It sells QuietRock, a sound-dampening line of sheetrock. The company has shipped 20 million square feet of the stuff, Surace said.