Posted on October 14, 2021
Innovative residential and commercial ICF designs continue to win awards across the country. Draft-free continuous insulation is a major advantage. Resiliency is another. ICF walls withstand some of the most forceful assaults by Mother Nature.
Evolution of ICF Construction
Energy savings and reduced carbon emissions are key reasons to consider ICFs. This is true even during construction. Reduced water demands when pumping concrete into the forms cuts fuel consumption. Also, on-site construction waste is minimal - about one percent. One estimate suggests that construction waste will total almost 2.2 billion tons by 2025. Despite focused recycling efforts, too much still goes to landfills. ICF construction helps.
Despite the many advantages, ICF residential construction remains in its infancy. According to the Annual Builder Practices Survey, ICFs have a 2.6 percent share of below-grade walls. Less than one-quarter of one percent of above grade walls are ICFs.
Residential Case Studies - Award Winning Designs
Those who choose ICF homes save hundreds of dollars per year in heating and cooling costs. Occupants live in a quieter environment less subject to street noise. They enjoy long-term peace-of-mind and enhanced resale values as well.
There are many finishing options. Residential ICF walls accept various exterior finishes, including siding, stone and stucco. Wiring and plumbing can run through PVC sleeves inserted before the pour. Or, it is possible to score the interior surface of the foam blocks.
Texas Hill Country Residence
The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) 2021 Concrete Home Winner is an ICF home in the Texas Hill Country. The NAHB’s Jerry Rouleau Awards for Excellence in Home Design recognize top residential designs. ICF construction contributed to energy efficiency. During the first 30 months of occupancy, the highest electric bill was $248.
Site limitations restricted placement of the 10,000 sq ft home. This meant it had to go within a small area on the two-acre parcel. ICFs were also used for a detached storage structure and a rear site wall.
Ohio’s 2021 Sustainable, Healthier Home
Ohio's 2021 Sustainable, Healthier Home is a collaborative effort. Charis Homes, Pro Builder Media and the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA) worked on the project. Charis is an Ohio builder specializing in the 55+ market.
The 2,769 sq ft home includes walls insulated with 2.5 inches of EPS foam. R-26 construction is about 58% more energy-efficient than a traditional wood-framed wall. An absence of thermal transfer contributes to the home’s energy savings. ICF walls eliminate the need for an added air barrier and vapor retarder. Significant labor and material savings accrue.
For one mix, 3,000 psi concrete containing 30% fly ash was vibrated to clear voids. Stabilizers helped prevent blowouts during curing. 28-day strength exceeded 4,000 psi.
Taylor Residence - Headingley, Manitoba
This Canadian home is a 2021 Logix Award winner. The 6,400 sqft project included a home, garage and shop. The home’s innovative design includes a three-story ICF radius wall. The back of the home rises 34 feet above grade. The great room includes 20-foot freestanding ICF walls.
Designers had to account for the temperature extremes of the Manitoba prairie. In the winter, lows of -40° F are possible. Triple-digit highs may occur in the summer. Energy-saving elements include two-inch Halo Interra in the ceiling. There's also a three-inch-thick Heat Sheet under the slab.
The design features ICF walls with four-inch cores reinforced with Helix micro-bar. The twisted one inch zinc-plated steel bars improve grip. ICF Builder previously reported on the advantages of microbar reinforcement.
Commercial Case Studies - Award Winning Designs
More developers, architects and contractors recognize the many benefits of commercial ICF construction. The structures are fire and disaster-resistant. Their durability minimizes maintenance costs. Energy savings accrue year after year. Sound attenuation is a key benefit in movie theaters, schools, hospitals and more.
Showbiz Cinema - Homestead, FL
Showbiz Cinema is the 2020 ICF Builder Heavy Commercial Winner. It is an upscale 10-screen movie theater in Homestead, FL. The $12.5 Million project also includes a bowling alley, arcade and dining. The contractor used 88,100 sq ft of Fox Blocks for both exterior and interior walls. Installation took 100 days.
The 12-inch-core walls are up to 62 feet high. The installer developed a tall wall outrigger system with Giraffe ICF bracing. This improved efficiency during tall wall pours. It also eliminated the need for traditional masonry scaffolding.
New Life Community Church - Pine River, MN
New Life Community Church is a 2021 Logix award winner. The church features ICF walls from 11’ 4” to 19’ high. Installation of the walls took five weeks. Energy savings are impressive. On average, electricity costs $165 per month while natural gas costs $144 per month. The church is also a designated safe room for two nearby schools.
Cinepolis La Costa Town Center - Carlsbad, CA
Cinepolis La Costa Town Center is the recipient of a 2021 ICF Builder Award. It was the second runner-up in the Heavy Commercial category. Cinepolis is an 8-screen movie theater in Carlsbad, CA, a community along the coast north of San Diego.
The $10 million project required 25,000 sq ft of Fox Blocks. Exterior ICF walls rise as high as 37 feet. Crews completed the ICF installation in 22 days. The use of insulated concrete forms saved an estimated 30 days of construction time.
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