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Building Green with Insulated Concrete Forms

Updated on October 21, 2011

The Future of the Home Building Industry

The building industry has been talking about going green for some time now and being leed qualified. Well I am not going to discuss the issues of being leed qualified that pertains more to the commercial building industry than the new home industry. You can have new home leed qualified; I just don’t think it is necessary to discuss that at this time.

Just in case you are not familiar with ICF’s, as they are called in the building profession, I’ll try to describe them in laymen’s terms. They are expanded polystyrene panels that actually resemble the old Lego building blocks ( just bigger) like we played with when we were kids. They are simply put just Styrofoam blocks stacked together to pour formed concrete walls.

 

These pictures are courtesy of Amvic’s website.

Amvic Building Systems, has come up with a stronger more energy efficient design for building new homes than the traditional stick frame homes. The new home owners of today are well informed of the different types of construction and are demanding that new home builders provide them with the different options available, including green building materials. The ICF’s of today are manufactured using recycled polypropylene for the webbing, this means that over 60% of the weight of an ICF block is made up of recycled materials.

Building With Amvic ICF's

 

Building and ICF home is a little more expensive than traditional stick frame, but the added features you get are more than enough to pay for itself in long term rewards. The Icf is your structure as well as your insulation replacing commonly used fiberglass insulation with expanded polystyrene . Traditional fiberglass batt insulation allows air to move though the gaps in the insulation between the walls allowing air infiltration, which makes it either more expensive to heat or cool your home. ICFs are closed plastic cells that together with concrete walls prevent air movement creating an airtight seal around the entire perimeter of a building.

 

This is an Amvic form already positioned with horizontal and vertical rebar already installed and ready to stack next layer of ICF blocks.

The home building industry has seen an increase in ICF homes over the last decade especially in the coastal regions of the country, so the home owners are now getting a better base of qualified builders and sub-contractors. If the builder you choose complains about building an ICF home, find another builder. At the end of this post I will include some links to builders that I know who are already building new homes with ICF’s.


 

Picture provided by Amvic.

This is a home built using ICF’s, there are multiple choices to the design features, whether they are large custom homes or industrial complexes...

 

What are the Advantages of Building an ICF Home.

 

Faster Construction and Less Waste Compared to a Traditional Stick Frame Home.

 

Superior Structural Strength

 

A new ICF Home Will Have Better Survivability in Severe Weather.

 

A Noise Reduction Due to the Thermal Mass of the Concrete.

 

Significantly Lower Heating and Cooling Cost.

 

Homeowner Insurance at a Slightly Reduced Rate

 

As far as any disadvantages building an ICF home, I really do not know of any. I can tell you this as an old time framer, if I ever build again it will be ICF, cutting myself out of work, but that is about as strong a testimonial as I can give you.

 

I suppose you are also wandering why I am pushing Amvic, when there are hundreds of ICF dealers out there. Well a little education can’t hurt, there are only 5 manufacturing plants in North America that produce ICF blocks. The majority of them are only private labeling a product, they all have their own specifications to be manufactured to, just not to many of them produce their own product. I have used and installed a variety of ICF blocks and the reason I so strongly recommend Amvic, is because of being user friendly , their service, and the ability to reverse their block just reduces waste far beyond all their competition.

If you want to learn more Amvic Building Systems

Building With Insulated Concrete Forms;



If you have any comments that you would like to add I would love to hear them, and if you know of any other builders and or sub-contractors that work with ICF b

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    • Sharon Douglas profile image

      Sharon Douglas 

      7 years ago from GA, United States

      Very interesting article Mr. Dave Framer

      This is the first time I've ever heard about "Insulated Concrete Forms"

      Vote up and useful

      Thanks for sharing!

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