ICFs (Insulated Concrete Forms)

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insulated-concrete-form1.jpgInsulated Concrete Forms, or ICFs, are used as a means of energy efficient construction. A typical ICF consists of highly insulative foam combined with a reinforced concrete wall. Through the combined effects of continuous R-Value, reduced air infiltration and thermal mass qualities moderating indoor temperatures, ICFs provide a superior form of wall assembly.

According to the Insulated Concrete Form Association, “homes built with ICF exterior walls typically require 44% less energy to heat and 32% less energy to cool than comparable frame homes. Benefits of building with ICFs include:

  • Outstanding structural integrity, withstanding hurricane force winds and earthquakes.
  • Energy efficient, with significant savings on heating and cooling.
  • Increased comfort with more even indoor temperatures and no drafts.
  • Lower insurance rates.
  • Quieter than conventionally-built wood frame houses.
  • Flexibility in the design of a home. Unique characteristics like curved walls are less expensive to build into an ICF home.
  • Lower labor costs than frame construction. Keep in mind the price of these high-quality materials are slightly more than stick frames.
  • The metal, concrete and insulating foam can all be recycled.

The ICFs sold in North America are made of either expanded polystyrene (EPS), extruded polystyrene (XPS), polyurethane, or a cement-foam composite. See my earlier post about the environmental impacts of EPS and polyurethane here.

There are various types of ICF’s including block, panel and plank systems that are designed as flat wall, waffle grid wall or screen grid systems.

Learn the specifics of each type of ICF here.

Source: The Insulated Concrete Form Association

Tag(s): Energy, Green Building

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