Choosy green builders choose ICFs

| by David Morris
Choosy green builders choose ICFs

For home builders looking to deliver a high performance home that meets the criteria for green building programs such as ENERGY STAR, Zero Energy Ready, LEED, or the National Green Building Standard, insulated concrete forms are an attractive opportunity.

Here's a look at some of the ways that ICF homes deliver high performance.

Air Leakage

Up to 40 percent of a stick-built home’s heat loss is due to air leakage. In an ICF home there are simply fewer seams through which air can infiltrate. Framed walls are hollow structures with many places where unwanted air can flow such as sheathing joints, floor/wall joints, and insulation gaps. As more air infiltrates through the wall the less effective the insulation becomes.

Thermal Bridging

Framed walls are insulated only between the studs, which means the insulation is only effective between the studs. That means 20-25 percent of the wall is not insulated. The wood studs act as a thermal bridge leading to heat movement through the walls.

By contrast, ICFs don’t use stud construction, which eliminates thermal bridging. Depending on the thickness, the foam blocks provide the layer of continuous insulation required under the new building codes. The concrete core of the finished ICF wall system offers thermal mass that stores heat or cold and maintains building temperature.

Insulation Gaps

Most types of applied insulation such as batts, blown-in or spray foam, can suffer degradation during application and/or during the life of the home. When improperly installed, batt insulation can allow for low performance due to voids, crushing and other problems. Spray foam insulation may have voids, depending on the skill of the applicator. Blown-in insulation may settle in the walls over time, and is subject to voids around electrical and plumbing installations.

In comparison, ICFs use a continuous layer of foam around the concrete that won't sag or settle and is impervious to moisture and insects.

If you're looking for a way to build a better home, find out more about ICFs.

Topics: Building Green, Insulated Concrete Forms - ICF

Companies: Fox Blocks

David Morris
A Detroit native, David T. Morris, LEED® Green Associate, used his drive for entrepreneurship, innovation & new product development to develop a patented product and later took a new building product to market. In 2012, he became U.S. East Regional Manager with Fox Blocks, a division of Airlite Plastics Company, managing ICF sales in seven states. Since 2006, David has delivered more than 140 IFA/ICF training seminars to contractors, plus another 120 presentations to architects and engineers. He is a featured speaker and SME on High-Performance Buildings, and his efforts have resulted in environmentally friendly construction being specified for residential, commercial, and institutional buildings throughout the country.

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