When it comes to green design and energy efficient homes, the future is already here. Architects and builders are redefining home design to provide better insulation and better ventilation, which make homes more comfortable and healthier. And they’re relying on an building material that has been around since the 1960s. One of the most useful green building materials is ICF or insulated concrete forms, which can be used for walls and floors.
What are ICF forms?
ICF forms have been used for home construction since the 1960s. The first patent was granted to Canadian contractor in 1966. Basically, ICFs are hollow boxes of foam, which are stacked to build the structure, and then filled with concrete to give it strength. This actually makes ICF one of the strongest buildings materials, capable of withstanding hurricane-force winds, earthquakes and tornadoes.
ICF blocks are typically around 10 inches in width. They can be faced with brick, siding or stone for the exterior walls. On the inside, drywall, stucco or plaster is used to finish the walls. These homes look like any others, but are much stronger and better insulated.
What are the advantages of using ICFs?
For a number of reasons, ICFs are a favorite among green building materials. They provide superior insulation to other types of home building materials. In fact, ICF walls can save as much as 10% to 25% on heating and cooling costs, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This makes them one of the best choices for building energy efficient homes.
ICF construction is more streamlined, since only a single layer of ICFs is needed to build a wall or a floor. This also makes it cheaper than other home construction materials. It can reduce construction costs by $ 0.75 per square foot. When used to build basements, ICFs can reduce costs by as much as 40%.
ICF and green home design
Green design focuses on making homes more energy efficient and healthier, by providing better insulation and ventilation. Unlike older methods that used ‘breathable’ materials to bring outside air into the home, homes made with green building materials focus on improving ventilation, while making the walls better insulated.
The walls also keep out 75% of the outside air pollution, in the form of allergens, dust, and other particles. This makes for cleaner indoor air. Especially when compared to traditional wood frame buildings, ICF homes are stronger, healthier, and cost less to build. For safety and permanence, they can’t be matched.
ICF is one the favorite green building materials for home owners, builders and architects who understand its benefits.