ICFs and Hotel Construction

Posted on December 04, 2020

Insulated concrete forms (ICFs) and hotels are a perfect combination. Hotel developers value key attributes of ICF construction.


Advantages of ICF Hotels

Timely construction, sound attenuation, energy savings and disaster resistance are among the benefits. ICFs improve profits while enhancing brands.

Timely grand openings

Crews install lightweight ICF forms without delay. It is possible to install forms on the upper floors as the lower floors are being poured. The efficient process keeps projects on schedule. Some hotels are completed ahead of schedule.

Quiet buildings = happier guests

One of the most important amenities a hotel can deliver is a good night’s sleep. ICF walls and floors diminish distracting sounds that result in guest complaints. Compare a typical 38 STC in a wood-framed structure with a 55 STC in a typical ICF building.

Draft-free comfort

The comfort of guests is paramount in today’s hotels. ICFs help ensure their comfort. With ICFs, concrete’s thermal mass buffers the dramatic outdoor temperature changes. In Pennsylvania, temperatures have ranged from 111 degrees to minus 42 degrees.

Energy efficiency

ICFs feature two layers of continuous EPS insulation hugging a concrete core. Effective insulation and high mass concrete can combine to reduce energy costs 30 to 50 percent or more. In hotels of almost any size, this means thousands of dollars of energy savings per year. These savings multiply, year after year, decade after decade.

The ICF Manufacturers Association commissioned a study to better quantify the savings. The research team tested two code-compliant walls per ASTM C1363-11. One was an R-20 wood wall with drywall on the inside and vinyl siding on the outside. The other was a six-inch-core ICF wall with 2.5-inch layers of Type II EPS foam on both sides.

The researchers heated and cooled the walls in separate chambers. Sensors detected when the temperatures in the two chambers equalized. At an exterior air temperature of minus 31 degrees, the wood frame wall reached a steady state in 60 hours. The ICF wall took more than 320 hours to reach the same standard.

Researchers determined that the ICF wall was 58 percent more energy-efficient than its wood-frame counterpart.

Vital disaster resistance

Sometimes, the unthinkable happens. A tornado or major hurricane strikes, or a 500-year flood occurs. A hotel that survives relatively unscathed reduces repair costs and downtime. Such a hotel may even reopen quick enough to give crews and local residents a nearby place to say.

Case Studies: ICF Hotels

Over the course of the past two decades, hotel chains have increasingly embraced ICF construction.

Comfort Inn - Tifton, GA

There are thousands of Comfort Inns in North America, Europe and Australia. When the Comfort Inn in Tifton, Georgia, opened for business, the worldwide hotel chain declared the facility its best-built hotel of all.

From the outset, expectations were high. The goals: build it quick, make it safe and energy-efficient, and meet a demanding budget. Approximately 116,000 square feet of ICF walls minimized waste. In fact, all the ICF waste could fit in a single utility trailer. ICF walls also intercepted the traffic noise from the nearby interstate highway.

During the design phase, costs came in close to that of stick construction. One challenge was weak soil that threatened to raise foundation costs. By specifying ICFs, designers reduced the structure’s total weight. This saved an estimated $250,000 in foundation costs. At the same time, energy savings continue to accrue.

ICF construction allowed for time-saving construction techniques. For example, workers were able to stack fourth-floor walls before crews completed the first-floor foundation. Also, thanks to special ties and plumwall bracing, crews poured floors and walls at the same time.

The Centre Park Holiday Inn - West Chester, Ohio

The Centre Park Holiday Inn includes 130 guest rooms and 37,000 square feet of event space. Approximately 103,000 square feet of Fox Block ICFs deliver energy-efficiency and disaster-resistance. Opened in 2015, the building is performing about 30 percent better than the

ASHRAE hotel construction standard. It even qualified for an energy rebate from the local utility.

More than 15,000 square feet of interior ICFs also reduce sound between areas. Crews completed the $25 million project in 420 days: two months ahead of schedule. The hotel’s developer capitalized on the opportunity to generate revenue quicker than projected.

Souris Hotel - Souris, Manitoba

Manitoba’s Souris Hotel also features ICF construction. The three-story, 29-room hotel is quiet, energy-efficient and low-maintenance. The comprehensive use of ICFs allows marketing of an “All-concrete Hotel.”

Concrete’s thermal mass contributed to the cost-effectiveness of the project. Logix ICFs contribute to energy savings due to a five-day thermal lag, in part. Continuous insulation reduces air infiltration by about 60 percent. This lowers utility bills while creating a draft-free environment for guests. Sound attenuation is another benefit. Hotel guests often comment on how quiet the rooms are.

Hilton Garden Inn - Uniontown, PA

Uniontown’s Hilton Garden Inn is an 81,000 square foot hotel with 119 rooms. The $20 million project took 13 months to complete. Both the exterior and interior walls feature ICFs. There are 75,000 square feet of ICFs in all. Crews completed the installation of the walls in about 120 days. The project won a 2016 ICF Builder Award - first runner-up in the multifamily category.

Learn More

The Pennsylvania Aggregates and Concrete Association (PACA) maintains SpecifyConcrete.org. The website informs industry participants and the general public about new developments. If you need more information, please contact us.