Benefits of ICF Construction

Written by Posted On Monday, 08 July 2019 18:46

Builders are increasingly turning to insulated concrete form (ICF) as their first choice in construction projects. Why? The reasons include:

  • energy efficient design

  • versatility as a building material

  • tax and insurance savings

  • structural properties

  • sound-absorption properties

  • environmentally-friendliness

Let’s take a look at each of these benefits of ICF construction in your structures.

Energy Efficiency of ICF Construction

Probably the number one reason for selecting ICF in your next construction project is its inherent energy efficiency. Because of ICF’s high thermal mass, your next building will have more even distribution of heat, as there’s less cold spots and drafts to deal with. ICF’s tighter design decreases the amount of air infiltration to a minimum and significantly reduces leaks when compared to wood-framed construction methods. And because of this uniformity, ICF buildings can potential reap 30% - 70% savings in energy consumption, which is both good for the environment and your energy bills for years to come.

And because the material itself is energy efficient, ICF buildings also require less powerful HVAC systems (i.e. furnaces, compressors, central air units, etc.). This puts less wear-and-tear on HVAC systems and significantly less output, which has the ability to reduce typical construction costs an estimated $500 -$2,000 per home. On a related number, as the size of the house scales, so does the savings. According to a study by the Portland Cement Association, total HVAC system capacity required for houses with ICF walls ranged between 14% - 21% less when compared to houses with wood-framed walls.

Ultimately, the energy efficient design of ICF is more cost-effective.

Versatility of ICFs as a Building Material

Another attractive element of ICFs is that they can be an architect’s dream come true. With traditional wood-framed structures, there are limits to the strength of structure and thus limits to the overall design possibilities. You can build nearly any type of home plan with ICFs, as it is not only more sturdy, but can be finished with any type of façade (ex. brick, stucco, wood siding, steel siding, etc.) so you can create an authentic copy of traditional designs (like wood cabins). Further, builders are able to make designs that add unique design touches, like custom arches and seamless curves that prove difficult with wood or brick. 

Last, ICFs cost less than wood for most projects, which means that there’s more on the budget for enhanced designs and creativity.

Tax and Insurance Benefits

On the same note, ICFs can lead to a number of savings when it comes to tax credits or tax incentives. For instance, the federal government and many states offer programs that can mean savings as much as $1.80 per square foot on buildings that are able to reduce energy use by 50%. 

Then there is EEMs, which are short for Energy Efficient Mortgages. EEMs are reduced-price mortgages that use your energy savings as part of funding your next building purchase, sale, refinance, or remodel project—all based on the mortgage seeker’s income (and other factors). Qualifying for an EEM requires an inspection to get an energy certification from a professional energy rater. Once rated by an inspector, those seeking a mortgage can find ones from qualifying EEM lenders which can bring your structure up to current standard and give you the ability to add to the structure.

Similarly, many insurers offer premium reductions for buildings that are built or renovated with ICFs, because of the increased strength and fire resistance of ICF (earthquake insurance and fire insurance, respectively).

ICFs are Structurally Sound

If your building is in an area prone to natural disasters, ICFs can be a practical solution to finding a material that can withstand Mother Nature at her most temperamental. As it’s been shown, buildings constructed with ICFs can be used as a safe haven from earthquakes, hurricanes, heavy winds, flooding, and more. Because they’re built with steel-reinforced concrete that benefits from the advanced curing process thanks to the foam insulation, ICFs are able to even withstand the force of E5 tornadoes. 

Sound Absorption of ICF

One of the common problems of urban projects or mixed-use facilities (i.e. lodging homes, event spaces) is the lack of sound absorption from wood-framed buildings. Instead, buildings made with ICFs are 5 times quieter than wood-framed varieties thanks to their soundproofing walls. This quality can help make a property more attractive to buyers thanks to its increased privacy and sound isolation, as well as help maximize a space’s potential no matter where the location may be. 

ICFs are Environmentally Friendly

Going back to the reasons why ICFs are energy efficient, it’s safe to say they're extremely environmentally friendly. As some estimates suggest that buildings constructed with ICFs save 10 or more trees per home. Because ICFs also last longer and aren’t subject to degradation like wood (i.e. mildew, rot, vermin), ICF buildings require less resources to maintain. 

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Matt Lee

Matt Lee is an SEO and content marketing specialist serving building material manufacturers. He’s the founder of digital marketing agency, Lead Generation Experts, and Local SEO Course, Rise Up Local, that teaches business owners how to rank higher and get more leads through search engines.

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