Insulated concrete forms (ICFs) have been growing in popularity since the 1970s and with the threat of drastic weather events they’re likely to become more widely used. While insulated concrete forms have a higher initial cost, the myriad benefits they offer far outweigh their increased price point.
ICFs are made using two layers of insulation material with concrete poured directly into the form between them. These forms also allow for traditional finishes to be placed on the surface, resulting in a structure with thick concrete walls that maintains the appearance of a traditional home.
“A lot of ready mix producers just don’t see the value in it (ICFs),” said Brian Lutey, VP of Sustainability and Compliance at Ozinga. “But with a typical house you’re lucky if you get 200 yards of concrete. You can double that or triple that with an ICF house.”
They may seem difficult to install, but ICF construction is a snap. The lightweight forms interlock quickly like large LEGO blocks, saving time and money during the construction process. While pouring concrete during very hot or cold days can be tricky, the insulation forms regulate the temperature during the pour process so ICFs can be installed at virtually anytime.
ICFs are soundproof and energy efficient. They can stop air from infiltrating the structure and keep the temperature steady, resulting in lower energy bills.
“The cost of energy is going to continue to go up steeply,” added Lutey. “And with these homes we can cut the energy costs for the homeowner by 30-50 percent—and that’s forever. That’s huge.”
ICF buildings can also cost less to insure since they can withstand or resist fire, wind, and earthquakes, and require zero maintenance throughout the life of the structure.
Along with ICFs, Ozinga offers a variety of sustainable concrete solutions.