Homes built with ICFs look the same as conventional new homes both inside and out. ICFs, or Insulated Concrete Forms, are forms or molds that have built-in insulation for accepting reinforced concrete. ICF structures are built using conventional house plans and refined with conventional exterior finishes. So, what makes them different from timber-based ones? Several things. According to the ICF Builders Network, reinforced concrete homes have the following advantages over wood structures:
- constant temperatures that don’t give access to drafts or cold spots
- non toxic: no CFCs, HCFCs, or formaldehyde
- a 2-hour fire rating
- termite and pest resistant
- can withstand severe storm hits
- no rotting or molding
- can support concrete floor and roof systems
- help eliminate outside noise
- require an estimated 44% less energy to heat and 32% less energy to cool than comparable frame houses
On the other hand, concrete is a nonrenewable resource, requiring large amounts of fossil fuels during production. Unlike concrete, trees, which can be replanted and regrown, are a renewable resource that can be harvested through sustainable forestry practices.
However, building with concrete helps save trees, reduces residential heating and cooling costs, and also reduces landfill construction waste. So, you make the choice. Does concrete make the grade?