Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) are insulated building blocks used to form walls, and even roofs, before being filled with concrete to make energy efficient and durable structures. The ICF green advantage is high energy efficiency coupled with low lumber content
ICF construction utilizes a building’s insulation in (typically in the form of interlocking blocks) as the stay-in-place formwork that is used to produce a reinforced monolithic concrete building shell – featuring extremely
Solid walls mean:
ICFs were first patented in Canada in 1966 and have steadily grown in popularity and diversified in variation. Overwhelmingly, the appeal is interior comfort.
New ICF homeowners delight in stable interior temperatures and lower utility bills, but are usually amazed by the remarkable quiet of their living spaces. Some ICFs transmit less than one sixth of the sound that passes through typical wood frame insulated with fiberglass – so even homes with busy outside noise become peaceful refuges.
ICF homes are the ultimate protection in disaster prone regions – a cast-in-place steel-reinforced concrete shell that is literally bullet-proof.
Depending on design, ICF construction imposes a 5-15% premium over conventional construction. This is offset by 25-40% lower energy bills, high termite and fire resistance, and reduced environmental costs from construction.
Up-front costs vs. long-term savings is a major issue with many green building technologies. A large investment at the time of construction is often required in order to reap the long-term benefits of energy savings. Some installations break even only in the seventh or eight year.
The construction cost premium of ICFs can be mitigated by smaller heating and cooling systems, less jobsite waste and lower insurance costs.
There are many ICF systems on the market to day and while all offer a reduction in environmental footprint over stick-framed construction, some are “greener” than others.
Since the concrete core has a low insulating value, ICFs with polyurethane cores offer the highest energy ratings. Some ICFs offer as high as 60% recycled content.
ICF roof systems can support roof gardens
Building green: looking more sensible all the time!