12 Easy Steps for High-Performance, Healthy Homes


A healthy home can help protect your family from harmful particulates while reducing energy expenses and contributing to lower energy bills. Healthy homes are sustainable and built with long-term durability in mind.

The trend of healthy home building is sweeping the country, and more builders and homeowners are taking these factors into consideration when designing a new house. Luckily, healthy home building is easy with Fox Blocks ICF blocks.

Healthy Home Construction Tips

If you want to discover how to build a healthy home from the ground up, then read through the twelve steps below.

1. Design the walls of the home’s building envelope with Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs).

Fox Blocks ICF wall systems contribute towards a tight building envelope that minimizes heat gains and moisture intrusion. Fast and easy to install, Fox Blocks provide the essential design elements for a tight building envelope - continuous insulation (CI) and an air and moisture barrier.

2. Build the home’s foundations/basements.

Foundations and basements built with ICFs create energy-efficient, moisture-resistant, and temperature-tolerant below-grade walls.ICF below-grade walls produce healthy homes because the walls resist cracking and leaking, leading to unhealthy mold. Furthermore, ICF basement and foundation walls, with R-values greater than 20, contribute to an energy-efficient home.

3. Build above-grade walls.

ICF construction produces energy-efficient and moisture-resistant above-grade walls that keep residents comfortable and healthy and reduce monthly energy bills. Above-grade ICF walls also protect a home and its occupants from severe weather events and massive wildfires. The cost to build ICF above-grade walls compares closely with that of high-performance wood-frame construction.

4. Provide a double layer of Grade 1 CI from footing to roof.

Fox Blocks ICF wall systems produce CI on both sides of the wall, with no gaps or weak thermal areas, because the forms interlock tightly starting from the top of the footing up to the roofline. The double layer of insulation encloses the concrete core of the walls, enabling the concrete to enhance the heat transfer rate by lessening the temperature change through the wall assembly.

5. Replace thermal bridging with the thermal mass of insulating concrete forms.

The high thermal mass of Fox Blocks ICFs creates high-performing, energy-efficient homes with ZERO thermal bridgings. High thermal mass walls absorb and store heat energy, stabilizing temperature shifts within a structure by slowing the heat transfer rate.Fox Blocks provide thermal resistance to 100 percent of the wall, including the window bucks.

6. Provide a continuous air barrier and WRB.

Fox Blocks ICFs all-in-one wall assembly produces a continuous air barrier and WRB that resists air movement between the inside and outside of the home. Specifically, the monolithic concrete core within the wall assembly performs as a solid, strong, and durable and continuous air barrier, making it effective over the home's lifetime. Notably, the sealed openings and service penetrations of a Fox Blocks wall exceeds code requirements for air infiltration. Air tightness testing on ICF homes have typically identified results below code requirements of 3 ACH50.

7. Eliminate concerns for condensation that cause rot and mold.

ICF construction produces a solid continuous monolithic insulated concrete wall with a permeance rating of 1.0 that controls and minimizes moisture accumulation in the wall assembly. Concrete and EPS insulation do not promote mold or mildew growth, which could lead to an unhealthy environment as per the following image of a wood framing wall assembly.

8. Provide better control of indoor air quality.

Fox Blocks ICF walls furnish a tight exterior building envelope - a vital feature to controlling the indoor air quality and producing healthy homes. Fox Blocks ICF homes provide high steady-rate R-values and low air infiltration rates, both of which help to maintain good indoor air quality. It’s also important to know that Fox Blocks do not contain or off-gas toxic VOCs.

9. For maximum operational efficiency of HVAC systems and ERV.

Fox Blocks ICFs create thermally efficient building envelopes with air infiltration and inflation rates that reduce the HVAC equipment size - this lessens capital equipment costs. Furthermore, Fox Blocks construction allows energy recovery ventilators (ERV) to condition and control indoor air quality for maximum comfort. ERV systems connect to the HVAC system's ducts, then with two fans, the ERV draws clean air into the home and removes stale air.

10. Augment an insulating concrete form building envelope with high-efficiency windows, doors, and above code minimum roof insulation.

ICF walls contribute towards a tight building envelope; however, builders must consider all exterior components in order to achieve a completely tight building envelope. High-performing and healthy homes require energy-efficient doors and windows. Builders must also wrap the entire building's envelope, including all structural members of the slab edge, walls, and roof with a CI layer.

11. Take advantage of passive solar with a mass wall.

High-performing and healthy home design can benefit from passive design strategies to maintain a comfortable home temperature and reduce mechanical heating and cooling requirements. Passive strategies include solar orientation, shading, and closed cavity facades.

12. Build a safe, resilient structure with reinforced concrete.

Fox Blocks ICF construction creates disaster-resistant homes. These features save homeowners money and time on expensive repairs or rebuilding after a severe wind event, fire, or earthquake.

  • Homes constructed with Fox Blocks ICFs maintain their integrity during severe winds of over 200 mph and withstand projectile debris traveling more than 100 mph.
  • Fox Blocks ICFs produce superior passive firewall protection. The 6-inch Fox Blocks achieve anASTM E119 fire rating of four hours (twice the two-hour specification), and the ASTM E84 value for flame speed is less than 25, and smoke development is less than 450.
  • Fox Blocks ICFs produce shear walls that extend the total height and all sides of the structure, protecting the home against earthquakes.

Build a Better Home

Builders and homeowners that follow these 12 easy steps for home design and construction will create a high-performing and healthy home that is comfortable and safe. Homes built with ICF also reduce long-term expenses through lower utility and maintenance costs.

Build for the future — contact Fox Blocks for more information on ways to build high-performing, healthy homes.