German wood firm launches U.S. home builderGRAND RAPIDS, MI

- HIB System AG, a forest products firm based in Messenheim, Germany, has launched a U.S. effort to build a new generation of "Highly Insulated Buildings," known as HIBs. The firm has launched a U.S. division - HIB Systems LLC - based in Grand Rapids, MI, headed by Jan Michael Hoetzel.

HIB Systems has also announced the construction of the first U.S. building using its system, known as the Meadowlark Eco Home, a 1,600 square foot house now under construction in Greensburg, KS. The gravel filler gives the structure strength to resist extremely high winds, a significant factor for Greenburg, which was destroyed by a category 5 tornado in 2007.

HIB System homes are made from prefabricated wood block components, the blocks built using interlocking panels of fir, joined without nails or screws. Blocks are then assembled. The design approach incorporates cavities that are filled afterward with gravel, creating an insulating effect. The company describes them as "stone houses lined with wood."

"HIP System originated from a traditional Black Forest timber works," says the company's website. "We are still cutting and manufacturing our timber building materials from local Black Forest Fir trees. We are convinced that timber houses are going to be the key to developing the energy efficient houses of the future."

German wood firm launches U.S. home builderHIB System LLC says it is the construction method which makes its system unique. The two faces are held together by “plates” using dovetail joints which prevents horizontal movement. By the use of a tongue and groove system they are locked into position row by row rendering a straight surface that can then be finished in timber, plaster or any surface.

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