6 Reasons Why Architects Choose to Design With Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) Construction

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Architects choose insulated concrete form wall (ICF) systems for their design flexibility and capacity to accommodate the demands and concerns of today's builders and developers. Specifically, ICF provides a solution for worker shortages and escalating labor costs. In addition, ICF creates energy-efficient and disaster-resistant structures with excellent indoor environmental quality (IEQ). ICF construction ensures code compliance.

1. Architects Choose ICF for its Design Flexibility

Architects choose ICF for its ability to accommodate most building sizes and styles. Moreover, the ease in shaping and cutting ICF allows for customized designs, such as cathedral ceilings, large openings, custom angles, curved walls, and long ceiling spans. ICF offers architects and builders endless design options to meet the demands of nearly all construction projects.

2. Architects Select ICF Because it Lessens Labor Costs

When choosing materials for a new building project, architects must consider the contractor timetable and worker availability. Notably, the 2019 second quarter commercial construction index cites that 94 percent of contractors report moderate to high levels of difficulty finding skilled workers. Labor shortages not only increase labor costs, but affect productivity, schedule performance, and safety on the job site. Consequently, builders need architects to select innovative materials and solutions to offset construction labor shortages.

ICF construction provides design and material solutions for combating labor shortages and the resulting increasing labor costs. ICF needs less labor and takes less time to construct than either wood-frame construction or concrete masonry units (CMU) walls.

  • ICF reduces time and labor costs, over wood-frame, by eliminating the need to install insulation around the foundation and envelope. Also, ICF eliminates labor to frame the exterior walls and to finish frame the interior of the foundation walls. Finally, ICF reduces labor by eliminating the need to remove the concrete forms after pouring the foundation and applying the poly vapor barrier.
  • ICF minimizes time and labor costs, over CMU, by eliminating the need to apply insulation and moisture barriers, which adds additional trades and expensive workdays to the project. ICFs are also lighter than CMUs, which hastens ICF building time over CMU.

3. Architects Choose ICF for Energy-Efficient Design

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In 2017, contractors reported that green building accounted for 60 percent of their overall activity. Also, a report by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found that energy-efficient strategies positively affect the purchase decision of 80 percent or more of all home buyers. To accommodate the demands of builders and developers of new homes and buildings, architects must include energy-efficient methods and materials, like ICF, in their designs.

  • The thermal mass of ICF creates buildings with tight thermal building envelopes. Therefore, ICF buildings need smaller-capacity equipment for the air-conditioning, heating, ventilating, than wood and steel homes, which further saves money.

4. Why Architects Select Disaster-Resistant ICF

In today's climate, with more frequent and severe weather events, massive wildfires, and threats of earthquakes, architects turn to ICF disaster-resistant construction for designing new buildings and homes.

Wind-Resistant ICF Construction

  • ICF walls, with steel fortified concrete, create a continuous load path that holds the roof, walls, floors, and foundation together during an extreme wind event. The continuous load path moves the load from the roof, wall, and other parts toward the foundation and into the ground.
  • ICF walls prevent airborne debris from penetrating the wall during dangerous wind events.

Fire-Resistant ICF Construction

  • ICF walls minimize the spread of flames during a fire and do not bend, burn, or soften like steel.

Earthquake-Resistant ICF Construction

  • ICF creates earthquake-resistant structures because the ICF shear walls extend the entire height on all sides of the structure. During an earthquake, ICF walls resist lateral forces. Lateral forces push the top of the wall one way and the bottom of the wall in the other direction.

5. ICF Creates Excellent Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)

Architects that design structures with ICF ensure healthy buildings with pleasant acoustics. ICF buildings also promote safety, comfort, and productivity of the occupants. Features of ICF that contribute towards good IEQ include mold resistance, good acoustic, and a lack of toxic materials like formaldehyde and other high-volatile organic compounds.

6. Architects Choose Code Compliant ICF Construction

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Architects choose to design with ICFs, like Fox Blocks, because it provides continuous insulation (CI), contains high thermal mass, and substantially reduces air and moisture infiltration. Importantly, ICF construction, with an R-23 rating, meets, if not exceeds, the standards and codes of the ASHRAE 90.1 and 2018 IECC.

Why Architects Choose Fox Blocks ICF

Architects choose the Fox Blocks ICF wall system for its ease of installation, design flexibility, energy-efficiency, disaster-resistance, good IEQ, and code compliance.

Quick and Easy Installation of Fox Blocks

  • Fox Blocks all-in-one exterior wall combines five steps into one, including structure, air barrier, insulation, vapor retarder, and attachment. This feature hastens project delivery time by eliminating the need to coordinate multiple trades to install multiple materials to achieve the whole wall systems building science goals..
  • One ICF block equals 5.33 square foot wall which expedites wall assembly and reduces labor.

Energy-Efficient Fox Blocks

  • Fox Block’s energy-efficient wall assembly (R-value of 23+) surpasses the ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements.
  • Fox Block's high thermal mass creates energy-efficient structures. High thermal mass products absorb and store heat energy, which stabilizes temperature shifts within the building by minimizing the rate of heat transfer in hot or cold climate zones, minimizing equipment operations, resulting in daily cost savings.

Disaster-Resistant Fox Blocks

  • Fox Blocks withstand winds of more than 200 MPH and debris flying at over 100 MPH.
  • Fox Blocks achieved fire-resistance ratings (ASTM E119) of four hours for the six-inch insulated concrete blocks and two hours for the four-inch insulated concrete blocks.

Fox Blocks Produce Good IEQ

  • Fox Blocks create 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 Block’s solid continuous monolithic concrete, with a perm rating of less than 1.0, manages moisture infiltration and prevents the growth of mold, which is unhealthy to the occupants of a structure and also leads to decay.
  • Air-tight Fox ;building envelope controls indoor air quality and creates a healthier environment.
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Fox Blocks ICFs provide architects the design flexibility to create code-compliant, energy-efficient, and disaster-resistant buildings with excellent IEQ. Fox Blocks ICFs meet the demands and concerns of many of today's contractors, and developers, including a solution to labor shortages.

For more information on why architects choose to design with ICF construction, please visit Fox Blocks.