A New Way of Building in the Caribbean
By Guy Britton
From the Dominican Republic to Florida, BioLime has been reinventing the way people build in the Caribbean, centered around the company’s unique architectural finishes made of limestone.
To learn more about the company, Caribbean Journal caught up with Brian Coia, President of BioLime, to talk about BioLime’s most recent projects, its outlook and a new way of thinking about construction in the Caribbean.
Your company has some very distinct products and solutions. What are they?
Architectural Finishes made under the historical traditions of Roman Cement. Decades of research and development has allowed us to develop product solutions built to sustain both historical and quality-built modern architecture.
BioLime is a company with a unique connection to the Caribbean. Can you tell us about that?
BioLime was established in Florida, a major trading hub for the Caribbean. We create architectural finishes made of the ocean minerology of the Caribbean – Limestone. Most Caribbean historical architecture is made of Limestone and its derived products. Our materials are a natural fit in restoring historical architecture as well as new construction.
Why are your products even more important in places like the Caribbean?
Historically, Limestone was an indispensable material in all masonry in the Caribbean and was, by necessity, required for all building works. However, in the past 50-60 years there was a paradigm shift towards quick-build construction practices. The degradation of many of the Caribbean’s historic buildings has come at the price of vapor-restrictive coatings such as elastomeric, synthetic and cement stucco that trap moisture and retain heat within walls, causing catastrophic problems for buildings, even human health. Limestone-based coatings are the only materials that thrive in the harsh conditions of the Caribbean with a natural ability to endure and preserve wall systems. See Why and How —
We only have a few opportunities in a lifetime to get development right. BioLime adds modern innovation to what has already been proven in the past to create better, healthier, and more energy-efficient architecture today. True sustainability means to be built by something not only renewable, but more importantly, life cycled.
Do you need special tools and knowledge to apply your products?
Competent, skilled professionals are a pre-requisite to successfully carry out quality projects.
Can you do both existing structures and new construction? Which do you do more of?
Yes, you can renovate existing, restore historical and use these materials in new construction. BioLime was originally conceived for preserving historical architecture, however, today’s building owners and professionals are demanding lower maintenance materials, less renovation downtime, improved sustainability and increased energy efficiency. New construction, restoration and renovation are equally performed with BioLime Products.
Who is your customer? Are most applications commercial or residential?
Our customers are typically responsible stewards desirous of making the right choices. They include owners, architects, builders, engineers, designers, developers, contractors and specifiers. BioLime is tailored for the commercial, governmental, educational and residential sectors.
You say BioLime products are healthier and more energy efficient. How does that work?
BioLime coatings are naturally antimicrobial and absorb and release indoor air, cleaning it in the process. These materials stabilize indoor temperatures resulting in lower demands on HVAC systems.
On the exterior, surface temperatures are significantly reduced due to BioLime’s natural ability to diffuse and vaporize heat. BioLime does this more effectively than conventional coatings like acrylic, elastomeric, and cement stucco because BioLime vaporizes thermal mass outwards into the atmosphere, resulting in wall system longevity. In addition, BioLime coatings absorb and capture atmospheric CO2 assimilating it into the mineral matrix and effectively reduces what the US EPA defines as “Heat-Island Effect”.
Are BioLime products sustainable?
Yes. Limestone is a regenerative, life-cycled resource made from biological marine life that live and die and deposit themselves in what we know today as limestone. This can be witnessed on all the world’s shorelines as well as inland limestone deposits that have existed for millions of years that were once covered with ancient oceans.
BioLime takes part in a natural ecosystem called “The Lime Cycle”. From raw mineral extraction to final product usage – this natural, evolutionary cycle occurs when carbon dioxide emissions are re-absorbed from the early production stages and continue to re-carbonate CO2 over the in-use phase, creating a life-cycled, closed-loop process, resulting in negative-zero (-2%) carbon emissions.
You currently have a project in the Dominican Republic. Can you tell us about it?
Our client had been contending with synthetic plasters and renders (stucco) over the past 10 years that were not holding up in their direct oceanfront location. These acrylic-based, synthetic and elastomeric finishes continued to degrade and fail in shorter than expected timeframes. This was very costly for them. Not only in contracting the work, but in the closure of their resort for extended periods of time for renovation. They needed a better solution. We specified our HERITAGE Lime Plaster product that is a direct-apply process over the existing concrete surface. The result was a cost effective, time saving, longer lasting and naturally beautiful finishing solution. Moreover, we improved their bottom line by mitigating lost revenue due to periodical shutdown of the business.
What are some other projects you’ve worked on?
Our projects have ranged from oceanfront homes in Florida to dry climates like the desert Southwest.
Because BioLime was initially made for restoring Historical Architecture, efforts continue today working with governmental agencies, contractors and individuals looking to revitalize cultural heritage with Historical restoration projects. Current projects include The Arlington Hotel of Hot Springs, Arkansas and The Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
We see a lot of Historical buildings, which over the years, have used modern materials like Portland Cement and synthetic coatings. These types of materials are proven to cause numerous issues such as moisture entrapment inside the original masonry walls. In many cases, bacteria infestation has developed inside the wall cavities, posing health concerns to occupants and reducing the lifespan of the structure.
The advantages of BioLime mortars and finishes provide sound solutions and play a key role in achieving long-term objectives for sustaining historic masonry architecture.
What’s your outlook for the future?
For thousands of years, structures like the Pantheon in Rome have harnessed the magic of limestone and were built to perform the same way the human body does – breathe.
BioLime Finishes contribute the same way and work indefinitely to promote longer-lasting architecture, promoting cleaner indoor air and offering occupants a sense of freshness and cleanliness.
With BioLime, buildings become better places to live and work – creating lasting investments for people and architecture.
Our goal is achieving healthier, Zero Energy Buildings constructed with the products and byproducts of the most sustainable building material the world has ever known – Limestone.
For more, visit BioLime.