Sustainable. A cliché we hear too often, yet never enough in a meaningful way.
Wood is considered by many to be a sustainable building material. However, wood is deemed sustainable almost solely because it’s renewable. In reality, it’s not an ideal building material and certainly not meant to “sustain” itself for very long. Wood is susceptible to mold, rot, termites, fires and natural disasters. It almost never lives up to its true longevity due to its incapacity to cope with environmental factors. As a result, more natural resources are used to re-build, adding to the fifteen billion trees cut down annually.¹ On the other hand, ICF structures will last at least two hundred years with minimal maintenance.² In addition, ICF has a four-hour fire rating and is termite and pest resistant.³ If everyone in America chose to build with ICF, U.S. property owners would save over five billion dollars alone from avoiding termite damage.4
Additional Factors of Sustainability
Here at Forming Solutions, we understand that sustainability isn’t just about making things that last. There are several factors to consider when determining the sustainability of a product. For example, one should speculate energy efficiency, manufacturing process, installation, and the disposal of byproduct waste.
Energy Efficiency– ICF structures are inherently energy efficient due to their Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) core, which gives ICFs an R Value of 30-60 depending on the thickness of the core.5 This translates to property owners using 44% less energy to heat and 32% less energy to cool the interior of a structure verses a traditional stick-frame building.6
Manufacturing Process– EPS it is made from styrene, a by-product of crude oil extraction. No oil is extracted solely for EPS production. See the graph below for a breakdown.7
Installation– We use ICF base, a company that connects the best concrete specialists, general contractors, architects, dealers, engineers, and installers, all specializing in ICF. Essentially, they make ICF dream teams specifically for your area, to make an ICF project an easy success. Keeping everything local reduces the need for transportation and limits carbon emissions, but it also helps build a trusted network with people in your own community.
Waste– Since ICF is made from high grade EPS, it is one hundred percent recyclable. We take the scrap foam and number six plastic webs from sites we have worked with and deliver it to Marko Foam in Irvine. Marko Foam then recycles our EPS into surfboard blanks.8 In short, we are recycling a waste product of crude oil.
¹ Worland, Justin. “Here’s How Many Trees Humans Cut Down Each Year.” Time. September 02, 2015. http://time.com/4019277/trees-humans-deforestation/.
² “Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF’s).” Builderswebsource.com. June 30, 2012. http://www.builderswebsource.com/techbriefs/about_icfs.htm.
³ “ICF Construction on Fire Resistant Homes.” Foxblocks.com. June 23, 2014. http://www.foxblocks.com/news/.
4 “The Real Facts about Termite Damage.” American Pests. January 21, 2015. https://www.americanpest.net/blog/post/the-real-facts-about-termite-damage.
5 “ICF Energy Efficiency .” ICF Base. https://www.icfbase.com/learn/icf-energy-efficiency/.
6 “ICF Facts.” ICF Homes. http://www.icfhomes.com/DYKpages/dykFACTS.htm.
7 “How Expanded Polystyrene is Manufactured.” http://www.rmax.com.au/manufacture.html.
8 “Marko Foam x Forming Solutions.” Forming Solutions. http://formingsolutionsicf.com/building-green/marko-foam-x-forming-solutions/.
Written by Allison Devlin