6 Proven Methods and Materials for Building Sustainable Communities
Fox Blocks Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) provide a superior product for the development of a sustainable community. Fox Blocks ICFs create durable, healthy, energy-efficient wall systems that save money and protect the environment.
Homeowners, builders, and architects all increasingly recognize that sustainable communities save money, protect the environment, and create healthy communities. Sustainable practices will add long-term value to properties and promote the well-being of current and future generations.
The methods and materials for sustainable communities encourage durability, energy-efficiency, and superior indoor air quality (IAQ). Sustainable building methods and materials also lessen their impact on the environment by reducing the use of natural resources and minimizing carbon dioxide emissions. The design and construction of sustainable communities must follow green codes and standards.
Six Essential Features of Sustainable Communities
1. Energy Efficiency
Sustainable communities save energy and money through energy-efficient design and the use of clean, renewable energy. The following energy-efficient methods and materials can help create a sustainable community.
- Passive solar design with proper site orientation of the buildings and homes takes advantage of the sun's energy. For example, orienting homes north-south in the Northern hemisphere saves energy because it lessens direct sunlight in the summer while maximizing sunlight in the chilly winter.
- High-thermal-mass products, like Fox Blocks ICFs, for the walls and foundations, contribute to energy-efficiency. High-thermal-mass products stabilize temperature shifts within a home by slowing heat transfer rates, which saves energy and money.
- Buildings and homes in sustainable communities must include continuous insulation (CI), as required by ASHRAE 90.1 and the International Energy Conservation Code (2018 IECC). CI, like that provided by Fox Blocks ICFs, prevents thermal bridging, increases the effective R-value, and stops condensation. Continuous insulation saves energy by reducing mechanical ventilation costs and heating and cooling expenses.
- Cool roofs reduce solar heat gain in the attic space, which lessens energy costs and improves indoor comfort. Cool roofs can also lengthen the roof's service life. Cool roof products include low thermal mass materials (like slate, tiles, or clay) that reflect the sunlight.
- Sustainable communities utilize efficient HVAC systems, installed according to ENERGY STAR.
- Homes in sustainable communities utilize energy-efficient appliances, electronics, and lighting, to reduce a home’s energy use, emit less air pollution, and increase the home's resale value.
- Sustainable communities rely on renewable energy sources, like wind systems, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, small "hybrid" electric systems, or microhydropower.
2. Durable Building Materials
Contractors and architects of sustainable communities should select durable, long-lasting products that lessen replacement and maintenance costs, like Fox Blocks ICFs for:
- Disaster Resistance: Durable and sustainable communities protect the structures and their occupants from natural disasters, like fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes. Furthermore, disaster-resistant construction, like that achieved with Fox Blocks ICFs, saves homeowners money by reducing the tremendous repair costs that often result after one of these events.
- Moisture Resistance: Durable, moisture-resistant building products, like Fox Blocks ICFs, protect a structure against mold growth which degrades the integrity of a building or home.
- Thermal Stress Protection: Durable products should protect against thermal stress. Thermal stress can cause a building product to expand and contract, affecting the product's long-term performance.
- Pest-Resistance: Pest-resistant products and methods contribute to durability and low maintenance. Techniques to protect buildings from termites and other pests include insect-resistant products and specialized barrier materials.
- UV Resistance: Durable building products must resist ultraviolet (UV) because UV rays degrade or damage plastics, wood, paint, and more.
3. Building Methods that Produce Good IAQ
Sustainable community developments build homes and buildings with good IAQ. Good IAQ ensures the health, comfort, and productivity of the structures' occupants.
- Airtight sustainable structures may trap pollutants; therefore, these buildings and homes should use an energy recovery ventilation system that optimizes ventilation rates. Other useful methods of ventilation for sustainable buildings and homes include exhaust fans and natural ventilation.
- Sustainable developments utilize air- and moisture-resistant exterior walls, like Fox Blocks ICFs, that stop the growth of unhealthy mold by preventing air- and moisture-infiltration and accumulation on the interior of the structures.
- Sustainable buildings utilize products like Fox Blocks ICFs, that lack volatile organic compounds (VOC) which can compromise the structure’s IAQ,
4. Limit the Use of Natural Resources
Sustainable communities strive to minimize the use of natural resources like water. Minimizing water use not only saves money but helps prevent the overloading of municipal sewer systems. Sustainable communities can also avoid costly sewage system expansion with community-wide household water conservation. Effective measures for limiting water use include utilizing indoor and outdoor water-efficient appliances and equipment.
5. Development Decreases Air Pollution
Sustainable communities reduce air pollution by promoting public transportation, pouring sidewalks, and supporting local food sources - all of which decrease air pollution from vehicle emissions.
6. Design According to Green Codes and Standards
Builders and developers of sustainable communities must follow current green building best practices and standards. Since the mid-1990s, the United States Green Build Council (USGBC) has provided builders and architects with information on sustainable practices in the building industry, often depending on the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system for sustainability.