Built to Last Over a Century

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 ProcessEPS 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/.
“The Real Facts about Termite Damage.” American Pests. January 21, 2015. https://www.americanpest.net/blog/post/the-real-facts-about-termite-damage.
“ICF Energy Efficiency .” ICF Base. https://www.icfbase.com/learn/icf-energy-efficiency/.
“ICF Facts.” ICF Homes. http://www.icfhomes.com/DYKpages/dykFACTS.htm.
“How Expanded Polystyrene is Manufactured.” http://www.rmax.com.au/manufacture.html.
“Marko Foam x Forming Solutions.” Forming Solutions. https://formingsolutionsicf.com/building-green/marko-foam-x-forming-solutions/.


Written by Allison Devlin


Understanding the Value in R-Value

The Great Misconception 
R-Value is a very important part of building a home or commercial building. R-value is the measurement of thermal resistance and heat retention through a particular insulating material. Many building regulations require a minimum R-Value to be achieved but this ranges from region to region. Although the minimum R-Value is usually low, around an R-13, many builders and homeowners strive to achieve the highest R-Value possible. This is where the misconception about R-Value starts to become apparent.

What are the numbers?
Many people get caught up on the idea that the highest R-Value walls are the most superior. However, this is not the case. Yes, there is slightly more thermal retention in an R-100 wall versus an R-30 wall, but the percentage is actually miniscule. The graph below illustrates how there is a very apparent trend of diminishing returns when it comes to R-Values past R-30. What it breaks down to is this: after an achieved R-25, 96% of all possible heat reduction slowly begins to diminish. Therefore, as more and more insulation is added, the reduction decreases at a minute rate and never achieves 100%. To clarify, when doubling the insulation to an R-50, the reduction in the flow of heat is only reduced by 2%. Doubling the R-value again to an R-100, only achieves an increase of 1% more than R-50. This means that even quadrupling the amount of R-value in a wall would only reduce the heat transfer 3%.


*provided by energyvanguard.com.

So what does this really mean?
This means that instead of looking for the wall system that offers the highest R-Value, we must look at the bigger picture. First, it is important to distinguish other elements of the walls we build. The difference between a wood framed wall with added insulation and an ICF wall for instance, is the benefits in the materials of the wall and the way it is constructed. With stick-framed walls, traditional 2X4 or 2X6 wood studs are framed in. Then standard roll in insulation is cut and added after the fact. With ICF walls the empty styrofoam form by itself provides a better insulation factor than most insulated wood framed walls. Once concrete and rebar are added, ICF block reach a minimum of R-40 in insulated value. Because of consolidated concrete core mass and the interlocking foam panels on both sides of the block, ICF’s are made to provide a “non-leaky”, air tight wall. Something that wood framing can never achieve. ICF’s are the highest quality in insulation due to the thermal heat displacement and resistance to moisture and unwanted drafts. ICF walls hold value in not only the finished product, but inherently in the materials used for the forms and in the way they are constructed.


Working Together: A Perfect Marriage
It is also imperative to look at what you are marrying the wall system with. What kind of windows and doors are being used? What kind of roof and floor system is the best? Builders and homeowners must develop an adequate justification in more insulation by a cost and climate zone condition evaluation. Overall energy savings can be greatly increased by choosing a floor and roof system that marry with the walls of a home or building. For example, Fox Blocks ICF walls marry nicely with iSpan Composite Total-Joist floors. ICF walls combined with a composite floor system and continuous insulation in foam bucks for doors and windows create a tighter building envelope. Using high quality insulated glass for windows and radiant heating for HVAC will also be an energy saver.


Answering the Equation
They key to true energy savings is a combination of all these things. The answer is not as simple as building walls with the maximum R-Value. Although R-Value is an important element in the walls of a home or commercial structure, building out of smart materials and doing a cost analysis of the benefits of ICF walls over traditional stick frame insulation is where we really see the solution. Overall, it is better to invest in an option that will be easy to use, save you time every step of the way and stand strong against natural disasters. ICF walls are the answer every time, and when married with other energy saving components you have the greenest, smartest and strongest home possible. Build for the future, Build Green with Forming Solutions.


5 Reasons Why to Build an ICF Home

1) Build for the Future: Innovation with ancillary benefits

Built out of the most advanced technology available in structural concrete development. Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF’s) are constructed from recycled polypropylene plastics and EPS foam comprised of poly styrene granulated beads. They make versatile, lightweight building blocks composed of over 98% air and water and about 2% recyclable plastics.

When building with the form, rebar is first placed in the plastic webs between the styrofoam. Concrete is then poured into the center of the block creating a pre-insulated, structurally sound and durable wall. This innovative way of building provides a development that will stand strong through the test of time.


2) Low Maintenance: Free of dry rot, mildew and pests. No leaky walls & contractor friendly installation.

ICF structures leave no room for any unwanted invaders in your home. Built of non-organic materials (concrete and foam), ICF walls will never have mold, mildew or dry rot. This also means you don’t have to worry about rodents or insects making a home where you live. By also generating airtight walls, ICF’s shut out drafts that may cause dust or allergies. This provides a cleaner and much healthier way of living. Build right the first time and don’t waste money on repairs down the road.


3) Energy Savings: Save up to 40-50% on heating and cooling costs while still maintaining the most tranquil environment.

Designed with a factory R-value of 24 in the EPS panels, ICF’s are capable of reaching 40+ R-values following concrete embedment. That means no extra time and costs spent on adding insulation throughout construction.

The Insulated Concrete Form creates a thermal barrier that naturally regulates the inside temperature of the house or structure. Therefore staying cool even in agonizing heat, and comfortably warm in the harsh winter cold. This means saving tremendous amounts in circulated air costs. You can reduce your energy bills by 40% or greater just by simply building your development’s walls out of ICF’s. Since these savings are built in, they start right away and last forever.


4) Customize: Versatile design capabilities, architecturally diverse, thick walls, straight walls, convenient form options. Whatever your design, be assured you have the same durability and insulation. Don’t sacrifice style for sustainability!

Whether an architect is designing a commercial building, or a homeowner is building their dream home, no one should have to sacrifice style for durability and sustainability. With ICF’s you won’t have to. We offer forms in a wide range of sizes, widths and angled corners.

ICF forms accommodate all types of rounded sections so when building unique radius walls there’s always a form that will fit. Whatever you can dream up, there’s a great way to build it strong and quickly out of ICF’s. Having a well trained and certified installation company always helps achieve the best and most cost effective way to construct all the unique aspects of your home’s design.


5) Build Value into Your Home: higher resale value, better quality of living, cleaner living. Resistant to weather and elements.

We aren’t just talking about R-Value. When you choose ICF’s for your project you start building value into your home or development from the very first block to the final construction. An ICF development will have a more personalized design and feel. It will provide a higher quality of living, a cleaner environment for your family and low maintenance costs in addition to providing the safest structural conditions.

Delivering a 4 hour fire rating, complying with the highest ICC codes in earthquake seismic zones, deterring high wind tornadoes and all the elements of nature, ICF buildings are incredibly resilient and reliable. This gives you both peace of mind and brings down expenses as well. All while providing a way of building that is leaving an extremely low carbon footprint. ICF’s are almost entirely composed of reusable natural resources making up only 1% in landfills in comparison to 25% being paper and cardboard. ICF’s are also the fastest way to achieve LEED accredited points to any project big or small.



Forming Solutions has been an ICF distributor and technical advisor for over 18 years. We also carry 30 plus years of experience as masonry contractors and have developed many projects ourselves. We pride ourselves on being there for the construction of nearly every type of building or project. From a small residence to a large commercial structure, we firmly believe ICFs are the best way to build. In our experience, we have seen and used many different ICF forms and we stand behind our flagship product: Fox Blocks. This industrial strength ICF form system is manufactured by Airlite Plastics, who have been on the cusp of the best technological advancements of the ICF industry and make their forms in a smart sustainable way by recycling their own plastics and repurposing them into a building block that will never have to be replaced.


Be a part of the future of green building. Build your next project that will endure while saving you money. Are you building out of ICF’s?