Renew Urban Charleston

Renew Urban Charleston

Charleston, SC

Bill Huey Architects 155 Wentworth Living Room
Wentworth AIA 3

155 Wentworth Street was a cooperative construction project in Charleston, SC. Architect Bill Huey + Associates, Renew Urban Charleston, American College of the Building Arts and the supplier of Omni Block, Adams Building Products have collectively worked together to construct this cost-effective “prototype” energy efficient single-family residence.

Wentworth AIA 4

To learn more about the American College of the Building Arts and Renew Urban and their other projects please visit

Wentworth AIA 2

The use of standard concrete lintels and ledger bolts for the load-bearing of the second floor are shown in the photo above.

Industrial Residential Architecture

Residential Industrial Architecture

Scottsdale, AZ

Copeland Interior 3
Copeland Interior 2

The combination of exposed wood at ledger, truss, interior wall locations and exposed Omni Block provide a beautiful industrial look.

Copeland Interior 1

Architect: Tom Norris owner of Norris Architects
Scottsdale, AZ 480-734-7711

Copeland Glass Block

The Omni Block job site looks the same as any other block job site. These masons are preparing to start the second floor.

Copeland pre-glass block
Copeland Glass Block Installed

The second floor is nearly complete and the glass block is installed, window openings defined, and the ledger bolts grouted solidly within the bond beam block.

Copeland wood ledger

A typical ledger is securely bolted to the block wall. The framer can now hang the second floor joists onto the ledger.


The top-of-wall course requires that the interior cell that normally contains an insulation insert is left void, which allows horizontal rebar to be placed continuously around the structure and then grouted solid. There is still a layer of insulation protecting the interior conditioned space.


A section of wall that is at a door jamb and contains an electrical outlet with a vertical conduit application.

Roger Carter Recreation Community Center

Marks, Thomas 2

The Roger Carter Recreation Community Center in Ellicott City, Maryland has been awarded Excellence in Green Building. The building was designed utilizing 12″ Omni Block by Marks, Thomas Architects (

Marks, Thomas 4

The building came in under budget and is very
energy efficient for a building of its kind.

Marks, Thomas 5

Omni Block allowed for flexibility of design that
this building type required.

Marks, Thomas 1
Marks, Thomas 3

Kemper Masonry located in Seven Valleys, PA (717) 428-1614 laid the block for the project. Ron, from Kemper, said “it lays up just like regular CMU. It’s a no brainer and was easy to work with.”


Texas Home HERS Results

Texas Home HERS Results

The latest Omni Block HERS evaluation was recently completed in Alvarado, Texas. The 2512 sq. ft. single-story house, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Pete Muzika, scored a 58. This basically means that the house should perform 42% better than the prevailing energy code. The certificate can be seen below. The HERS evaluation includes a blower door test and a duct blaster test as well as the make and model of all appliances. The third-party testing company, TexEnergy Solutions, used an R-19.6 for the Omni Block walls. When questioned about why they used this lower R-Value the lead project coordinator responded that 19.6 was the highest R-Value that this region can input. Any higher R-Value inputed would not change the overall result.

Notice that TexEnergy projected the energy consumption to completely run this house at $2,602 annually or approximately $214 a month on average. The owners have now lived in the home for over 9 months, keeping their thermostat set at 73°, and the actual average energy cost has been $110 (and that usage includes a large water pump to irrigate their pasture, which was not included in the TexEnergy projection).

Statement of fact: This house, built with Omni Block is beating the utility projection by 50%.

Tighter is Better

“The 2012 IECC code mandates a maximum Air Changes per Hour (ACH) of 5.0. Many new homes struggle to make that target. To calculate the ACH of this Omni Block home, multiply the blower door test score of 1,380 CFM times 60 minutes per hour and divide by 44,312 (the cubic footage of the house). The result is 1.88 Air Changes per Hour, which is exceptionally tight”, according to Bill Syfan, LEED AP HOMES, HERS Rater and NGBS Verifier.


Dwell Magazine – Simpatico Homes


If you are into the clean lines of modernistic architecture, close to “net zero” energy strategies, and economical construction, then Simpatico Homes of northern California is right up your alley.

Simpatico Exposed Block

Homeowner, Seth Krubiner is shown relaxing in his modular home space. Notice the exposed natural beauty of Omni Block installed in a “stack bond” pattern. The mason “tooled the joints” approximately 1″ deep to make the block pattern more pronounced. For the complete Dwell Magazine article and pictorial, please visit

Simpatico 2

Not that long ago, renown architect, Robert Swatt, a principal at Swatt|Miers 
Architects based in Emeryville, California contacted Denny Miller of Omni Block and began his extensive evaluation of Omni Block’s insulated concrete block system. Swatt’s goal was to have the lower portion built on-site and then install the modular second floor with pre-fab components.

Simpatico 3

Simpatico, which is also run by architect Steven Stept of Swatt | Miers, places a strong emphasis on affordability, which, in the oft-pricey realm of prefab housing, is something they are able to achieve via the careful sourcing of materials.

Exposed Block

Exposed Block 1

The “industrialized contemporary” architecture of this building is exactly what the homeowners were looking for. The ruggedness of the block, inside and out, lends itself to a unique motif but also maintenance free finishes. The exterior was treated with a water soluble penetrating sealer. The interior hard surfaces are softened by furniture, area rugs and wall artwork. The metal barrel ceiling is insulated immediately above with a spray foam insulation. The walls can be left exposed and meet the 2012 Energy Code.

Exposed Block 3

The “coining” look at the corners was per the homeowner’s wishes. A common way to minimize block color variation is to apply a water-based penetrating stain over the completed building.

Exposed Block 2

The stain will also reduce any color variations in the mortar. It is recommended that a water-based penetrating sealer be applied over the stain or natural block.



Builders in Brooklyn and other boroughs are now building with Omni Block. On a 30′ x 80′ building that is 3 stories high, Omni Block is saving approximately 74 square feet of livable space per floor due to not having to furr, insulate and sheetrock. At a sale price of $400 a square foot, that is almost $30,000 of additional revenue per floor and Omni Block is only costing them approximately $8,000 per floor.


Notice that the #5 vertical rebar is every 32″ in this 3-story building. Typically, one #5 is every 48″.


The general contractor is now on his third such building and has stated that Omni Block is just like working with standard CMU, only better!

NCMA Weighs in on Structural Engineering Q and A

There are some code-imposed height limits on CMU construction, but they are very tall and only start to kick in around 15-20 stories depending upon the seismic risk, building use, etc.

In 2011 when we (NCMA) changed ASTM C90 to permit alternative unit configurations, we concurrently had to check and revise some of the design equations for masonry to account for the wide array of unit configurations that previously did not fall under ASTM C90. I would not expect these design checks to result in substantial differences in the design strength of Omni versus a standard CMU assembly, but there are some differences. In order to have a ‘code-compliant’ structural design using Omni, an engineer would need to use the 2013 edition of TMS 402 (the structural design standard for masonry) that captures all this cross-standard coordination.

The 2013 edition of TMS 402 allows Omni Block to be ungrouted (or partially grouted), but the design checks may be different…but there are literally hundreds of factors that trigger different checks for different applications making it impossible to state that the design strength of a standard CMU assembly and an Omni Block assembly would be the same for every circumstance. They will be close, but there can be differences – if for no other reason than the difference in the cross-sections.

Structural design is more complicated as an engineer needs to consider both the impact to the net cross-sectional properties as well as the average cross-sectional properties. (The former is used for strength determination, the latter used for calculating deflections.)

We are in the process now of updating our structural design TEK to reflect the changes incorporated into the 2013 edition of TMS 402 (where these additional design checks were incorporated). The relevant requirements are shown below. Essentially an engineer would need to check the shear stresses in the webs of the units if the normalized web area is less than 27 in.^2/ft^2 (which corresponds roughly to a conventional three web unit). In the case of Omni Block, the critical web shear plane would need to be determined (which is likely to coincide with the location of the insulation inserts where the web area is minimum) and the corresponding web shear stresses calculated for the design loads.




Jason Thompson
Vice President of Engineering
National Concrete Masonry Association
13750 Sunrise Valley Drive
Herndon, VA 20171-4662

Community Church

Omni Block split face was selected by the Prescott, AZ Community Church. The chapel/administrative building is adjacent to a well-traveled roadway so in addition to the insulative qualities of Omni Block, sound abatement was also key factor. This was the first time using Omni Block by both Paul Lutz, owner of the general contracting firm of Ravencrest Builders and Bill Laipple, owner of Laipple Construction, the mason on the project. Paul and Bill were very pleased at how easily the block was laid and the inserts installed. Bill was initially concerned about the production (amount of block laid) of his masonry crew laying Omni Block versus standard concrete block. He now believes, “there is not a noticeable difference between the two.”
Prescott 1

Prescott 2

These photos show the uniformity of the block and that it is stocked the same as regular CMU. Vertical rebar was “typical” which is one #5 every 48″ on center and around all windows and doors.

Prescott 3

Prescott 4

The EPS foam inserts overlap so that there is not a direct thermal bridge from the exterior to the interior of the wall assembly.

Prescott 5

Prescott 6

Design Magazine

The national and highly respected Méxican Architectural and Interior Design publication “Ambientes” highlighted Omni Block as an up and coming new product in the Mexican marketplace. More great media coverage is definitely successfully getting the word out.