4 Defining Characteristics of High-Performance Buildings

Screen Shot 2020 01 16 at 12 36 31 PM

Fox Blocks create high-performance buildings with superior energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality (IEQ), durability, and disaster resistance, all of which are essential for code compliance and safety.

High-performance buildings also positively impact the environment and provide financial benefits before and after construction.

The Whole-Building Approach to Constructing an Energy Efficient Building

The successful construction of a high-performance building considers the structure as one energy system in which each element is integrated to affect and influence the performance of the whole building. The whole-building approach to constructing a high-performance building also creates initial and long-term financial advantages during and after construction.

A report by the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy concluded that the whole-building approach creates buildings that are almost 70 percent more efficient than those constructed by conventional methods. The whole-building approach further saves money by reducing material and labor costs, minimizing callbacks and warranty claims, reducing construction waste, and lessening the purchase cost of mechanical equipment, like the HVAC system.

Four Characteristics of High-Performance Buildings

1. Energy-Efficient

High-performance buildings provide cost savings and positively impact the environment because they use less energy. Constructing a high-performance building requires builders to follow current green regulations and codes as specified in the 2018 International Green Construction Code (IgCC), which gives the construction industry a mod­el for codes and reg­u­la­tions to produce high-performance buildings. These stan­dards also comply with the Inter­na­tion­al Code Coun­cil Fam­i­ly of Codes. Utilizing high-performance materials simplifies compliance with these codes and regulations.

Six Features of an Energy Efficient Building:

  1. A tight building envelope includes continuous insulation (CI). CI involves wrapping all structural members, with a layer of insulation to increase the effective R-value and eliminate thermal bridges and condensation. The ASHRAE 90.1 and 2018 IECC require CI.
  2. High thermal mass walls, like Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms (ICFs), offer durability and energy-efficiency through mass rather than insulation. Durable and dense mass walls provide high vertical load capacities. Energy-efficient mass walls store energy during the day and release energy at night.
  3. Application of a permeable air barrier allows water trapped within the wall system to escape, which prevents the growth of unhealthy mold that can degrade a wall system.
  4. Passive design strategies use outdoor conditions or solar energy sources to control heating and cooling and lessen the need for active mechanical systems. Passive strategies include building orientation, shading, and cavity facade on high sun exposures.
  5. High-performance buildings use Low-E, low SHGC, thermally broken glazing.
  6. High-performance buildings use LED lighting, high-efficiency HVAC, occupant controls, and daylighting.

Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms exceed ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements, and create high-performance buildings with excellent moisture resistance and energy performance. Fox Blocks provide a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating below 1.0. These features control moisture infiltration and stop the growth of mold, mildew, and rot. Fox Blocks also provide CI with an R-value of 23, which ensures an airtight building envelope with better performance than wood-frame construction.

2. Disaster-Resistant

High-performance buildings resist the impact of increasingly severe weather and wildfires and protect both the structure and its occupants during a natural disaster. A disaster-resistant design also lessens the financial and ecological cost of repairing and rebuilding.

Features of a disaster-resistant-high-performance building include wind-, fire-, flood-, and earthquake-resistance.

  • Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms (ICF) maintain their integrity during severe winds of more than 200 mph. Fox Blocks also resist projectile debris moving over 100 mph.
  • Fox Blocks ICFs have a fire-resistance rating (ASTM E119) of 2 hours for the 4-inch blocks and 4 hours for the 6-inch blocks. Fox Block's ASTM E84 reported values for smoke development of below 450 and flame speed of below 25.
  • Fox Blocks offers a superb material for building a flood-resistant building. Fox Blocks provide moisture-resistant and permeable (perm rating below 1.0) solid, continuous, monolithic concrete walls. When moisture infiltrates the wall assembly, it will dry out and not move on to nearby components. Fox Blocks reinforced concrete construction does not degrade when wet and will maintain its original integrity and shape during and after a flood.
  • Fox Blocks earthquake-resistant shear walls anchor to the building's foundation with steel reinforcing bars. In an earthquake, Fox Block's design effectively withstands the severe sideways (lateral) in-plane forces that push the upper portion of the wall in one direction while the bottom part moves in the other direction (racking the wall) or remains stationary.

3. Durable

A durable, high-performance building provides long-term benefits from the environmental and economic investment during its construction. According to Peter Yost, a building scientist with 3D Building Solutions, LLC, if you double the life of a building, you cut in half the environmental impacts of its construction. A Fox Blocks building envelope with a double layer of continuous EPS insulation and a reinforced concrete wall delivers durability and resiliency.

Durable products require less frequent replacement, maintenance, and repairs, specifically an investment in moisture- and pest-resistance.

Fox Blocks provide moisture- and termite-resistance, which reduces decay and degradation, along with maintenance costs. However, for waterproofing and termite protection, Fox Blocks recommends Polyguard Products, Inc. 650 XTM, or 650 XTP membranes.

4. Excellent Indoor Environmental Quality

A high performing building provides a safe and productive indoor environment for its occupants. Important IEQ features of a high-performance building include moisture-resistance, excellent acoustics, and low-toxicity.

  • Fox Blocks' solid continuous monolithic concrete wall (with a perm rating of below 1.0), controls moisture infiltration and stops the growth of unhealthy mold.
  • Fox Blocks provide superb acoustics. Sound transmission tests found that less than a third of sound travels through ICF walls than wood frame walls filled with fiberglass insulation. Fox Blocks achieve a Sound Transmission Classification (ASTM E90) of 4-inch=STC 46, 6- and 8-inch = STC 50+.
  • Fox Blocks contain little to no VOC.

Fox Blocks provides the ideal products for constructing a high-performance building with ICF that exceeds the standards for energy-efficiency, disaster-resistance, durability, and IEQ.

Please contact Fox Blocks experts for more information on constructing energy-efficient, high-performance buildings.