(MS) - Across America, home builders are adopting new approaches to construction to create greener homes with better resale value. One major change that's tackling energy consumption and rising fuel costs is the use of an airtight, solid concrete system to replace inefficient wood framing. Insulated concrete forms (ICFs) erect a building with an interlocking system, similar to Lego.
"It's a switch for builders, but those who have switched over tell us it's quite easy to build with ICFs," says Natalie Rodgers of Nudura, a leading name in the field. "Customer demand has driven this change and builders are now seeing how green construction options can have a positive impact on their business."
The ICF system is now the number one choice of wall-building methods for "net-zero" construction in the country. The term net-zero applies to buildings that are energy efficient and don't tap into any public utility fuel supplies. The goal is for as many homes, schools and public buildings as possible to be designed to be net-zero. Here are some advantages of net-zero construction using ICF.
Building guide. Underscoring these proactive measures, the nonprofit organization LEED also reminds us that constructing a green home leaves a much smaller carbon footprint due to less demand on natural resources. Such homes will create less waste and be healthier and more comfortable for the occupants.
Fuel savings. Walls built with ICFs are proven to reduce energy bills up to 60 percent, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce or eliminate exposure to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins. The net cost over time is comparable to owning a conventional home and the resale return is generally assured.
Durability. Concrete is strong. Due to high-impact resistance, these concrete walls assure maximum safety in high wind areas. Fire resistance is also reported to be maximized at four hours.
Comfort. Unlike in conventional wooded frames, air gaps are eliminated in ICF, minimizing the potential for mold growth and draft. The end result is an airtight structure that enables the mechanical systems to heat, cool and ventilate the structure more efficiently, creating a healthier living and working environment.
Responsibility. The materials are recyclable and the system is designed to create less landfill waste during the construction process. Combined with other eco-construction methods, this concrete system will significantly reduce carbon emissions by lowering the amount of fossil fuels needed for heating and cooling.