Are you a builder concerned with rising costs and the push for green building codes? Perhaps you’re a homeowner who values the environment and is interested in the benefits of an energy-efficient, concrete forms home.
Whatever the case may be, sustainable construction using concrete forms is way of the future, offering very tangible benefits for the environment, builders and homeowners alike.
Indeed, market research shows that the green building market is growing at a rapid pace. Of course, when we talk about sustainable construction, we aren’t just talking about building green.
Yes, sustainable construction is about “environmentally responsible and resource efficient construction” (minimizing, for example, the use of natural resources), but the important part is that this happens throughout the entire lifecycle. This means from construction to maintenance, renovation and beyond.
If you want to build sustainably, you need to understand how insulated concrete forms (ICFs) are at the forefront of green building materials, qualifying for the most prestigious of green certification: LEED certification. In this blog post, you will understand exactly why sustainable construction means building with ICFs.
The Benefits of Sustainable Construction
Sustainable construction benefits everyone involved, from builders to homeowners and, of course, the world at large.
For builders, it’s important to recognize the rapid scale at which the green building market is growing, just as you saw above. Simply put, sustainable construction creates a market advantage. After all, client demand is the leading driver of sustainable construction (34%) per the most recent Green Building Trends study.
There’s also the increasing cost of traditional materials to consider as well. ICFs, however, have lower labour costs and while they are similarly priced to traditional building materials, the ICFs are a higher quality product. There is also a low barrier to entry: only basic handset tools are needed. Green building also comes with various tax incentives.
For homeowners, green homes offer improved quality of life, from better health due to safer building materials and the reduction of noise pollution to increased comfort. Homeowners can expect lower operating costs and other monetary incentives as well, not to mention a safe, durable home that stands the test of time.
Sustainable Construction = Building with ICF
Here’s why ICFs are one of the greenest materials out there:
- Made Up Of Recycled Materials
Every component of ICFs can be recycled, making the building process highly sustainable from beginning to end. This also comes with cost savings for construction teams.
First and foremost, ICFs are made up of 100% expanded polystyrene webs, which means that the blocks are comprised of 60% of recycled materials by total weight. Although polystyrene is a fossil fuel, it’s important to note that only 0.1 percent of a barrel of oil is actually used to create it.
The steel-reinforcement bars that are placed inside the blocks are made up of 99% recycled materials as well. The final process then involves filling the blocks with concrete, which is also manufactured with slag, another recycled material.
- Reduces Waste/Emissions & Fewer Natural Resources
ICFs use fewer natural resources like gas, electricity and wood.
With ICFs, waste is 100% recycled. In fact, ICFs only generate 1% of construction waste to begin with. This means that ICFs don’t contribute to the landfills and the methane emissions that are generated alongside filling up landfills.
ICFs are eco-friendly in other ways, too. For example, they are manufactured without CFOs, HCFCs or chemicals.
When it comes to energy-efficiency, ICFs are the leader in the industry, designed to reduce energy consumption, maintenance and repair and to continue functioning in the most extreme weather events.
Consider, for example, the well-known study found that exterior walls made with ICFs require 44% less energy to heat and 33% less energy to cool compared to wood-frame walls, even when the two had a similar insulation value. This is known as the “ICF effect,” which is due to three properties of ICFs:
- Two thick panels of continuous foam insulation, providing an effective wall assembly R-value of R25 (or higher).
- Up to 60% lower air filtration than a conventional wall due to its airtight wall assembly. This not only maximizes the effectiveness of heating and cooling systems but also results in healthier living environments and a draught-free, comfortable living space.
- 5-day thermal lag due to the temperature moderating thermal mass of concrete. A recent groundbreaking study conducted by a fully SCC & IAC Accredited internationally recognized testing facility – the first of its kind – found that ICF walls had 60% less energy loss compared to a wood-framed wall when exposed to -35 degree celsius temperatures.
In contrast, more than half of the energy loss that occurs in a wood frame home is due to the combination of air filtration and heat loss through the wall. This is exactly why ICFs are often selected as the building material for net-zero energy homes.
Here’s an example of a net-zero energy home built with Logix.
Logix, in particular, offers three built-in energy savers for a combined 50% in energy savings.
Resiliency and sustainability go hand in hand. The steel reinforced concrete core of ICFs makes them disaster-resilient, able to withstand up to 300 mph hour winds, hurricanes, earthquakes and fires.
In a time when hurricanes and forest fires are on the rise (and are only projected to get stronger as the climate continues to warm), building disaster-resilient structures can mean the difference between being able to keep your family safe or not.
With ICFs, you can build with additional expense.
With traditional materials, the cost of lumber and other materials are increasing alongside the need to build resilient homes.
Furthermore, ICFs will not rust or rot unlike wood.
Wrapping It Up
With climate change already underway, sustainable construction will only continue to take precedence.
For builders, building with ICFs allows you to meet client needs, ever-increasing green building codes and combat the rising costs of traditional building materials and other associated costs. For homeowners, ICF homes are highly energy-efficient, durable and safe.
If you want to build sustainably, insulated concrete forms (ICFs) are the only choice.