What are Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) ?
ICF is an acronym for insulating concrete form, a construction method in which large hollow foam blocks are stacked to form the walls of a structure, then braced and filled with steel-reinforced concrete to create a building that is energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, and virtually indestructible.
They offer a host of benefits, such as faster construction times, lower insurance rates, and quieter interiors, but the two primary reasons behind their growth is their remarkable durability and energy efficiency.
Available under several different brand names, all ICFs consist of two rigid EPS foam panels which sandwich a core of reinforced concrete. The concrete provides exceptional strength and thermal mass; the foam provides a continuous layer of one of the world’s best insulators, and is an ideal substrate for many finishes.
The actual, real-world performance of an ICF wall far exceeds typical walls due to a combination of three factors: More insulation, less air infiltration, and higher mass.
In addition to having a continuous layer of EPS foam rated at R23, ICF walls are virtually airtight and take advantage of the dozens of yards of concrete in the walls to moderate temperature swings. Studies have found that the ICF homes use 44% less energy to heat and 32% less energy to cool than comparable frame houses.
ICF walls protect occupants and their belongings from tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, car wrecks and disasters. From a design standpoint, ICF technology is extremely flexible; the architecture can match virtually any style, and ICFs are compatible with all popular interior and exterior finishes.
In most areas of the country, the cost of ICF construction is typically less than 10% more than wood. Nationally, an ICF home is estimated to cost 3% to 5% more than frame building. That’s about $10,000 for a $250,000 house. With careful planning and considering the utility savings, the monthly expense of living in an ICF house can actually be less expensive. The same holds true for commercial buildings. Long-term building owners, such as schools, churches, stores, and hotels have found that when energy costs are considered, it’s actually less expensive to build with ICFs. All of the other benefits—like disaster-proof walls, quiet interiors, and less maintenance—are added bonuses at no extra cost.
Groen Construction's - Washington Street Office in Rochester NH USA was recently recognized as one of the most innovative commercial developments in North America. The honor was presented as part of the ICF Builder Awards, an international competition designed to showcase the advantages of building with Insulated Concrete Forms. Light Commercial: This category encompasses all commercial construction projects with a total cost of less than $5 million (USD). Typical projects in this category would include car washes, warehouse space, restaurants, gas stations, churches, and small retail and office, and complexes.