The Insulating Concrete Form Association hosted the ICFA Awards Luncheon on September 29, 2008 in conjunction with ICFA's Annual Conference and Expo, recognizing the best ICF projects throughout North America. A record number of applications were submitted for commercial buildings and homes. Each entry was judged on its success in meeting requirements set forth in each category described in the guidelines.
These row houses were designed around the ICF system to allow for maximum clear spanning and the ability to "clip on" balconies and bay windows for a wide range of customer designs and interior planning. A hydrolic scaffold system was developed to raise the walls continuously as the framer worked inside the box.
Built into the design was a geothermal system, passive shading and active ventilation which leveraged the strengths of ICFs to make these homes remarkably energy efficient. Efforts were made to include additional green building elements such as low/no maintenance, locally available materials, building orientation to maximize solar, pedestrian friendly lighting and access to public transportation.
The developer promoted not only the energy efficiency of ICFs, but also the acoustical qualities and the protection from tornadoes. These were important features, as the townhouses are located only a few blocks away from the central rail line, and right in the middle of "Tornado Alley." The Brownstones at Maywood Park demonstrate the ideal use of ICFs in an urban setting.
2008 ICFA Large Commercial - Silver CineMagic Atlantis 15 - Burnsville, Minnesota 2008 ICFA Large Commercial - Bronze
The Meadows at Oldwick - Oldwick, New Jersey
In keeping with its mission to promote sustainable construction, Southface set the goal of reaching LEED Platinum for its Eco-Office addition, with a strong emphasis on energy and water conservation. The choice of ICFs was based on the ability to meet these goals and offer a reduced project cost. The building design carefully detailed the ICF to integrate into a continuous thermal envelope, optimized south facing opportunities for daylighting and designed for optimal water capture and water re-use.
The design also included a cast-in-place floor system, which required a reinforced 4 ft high, 20 ft wide tie beam to prove the structural support over the main front window as well as weld plates to be integrated into the ICF wall, for a structural connection to the concrete. Pre-construction meetings reached out to a broad consortium of contractors to provide training on ICF construction, methodologies and benefits. The mechanical engineer recognized the contribution of the ICF wall in moderating exterior temperatures and was able to achieve a 70% energy savings. Ongoing monitoring will track real time temperature movement in the ICF walls over seasonal changes.
Outreach education efforts were leveraged through the local concrete association and USGBC chapter. Southface offered tours of the building during the construction and continues to offer trainings which emphasize the technologies used in this project. ICFs are presented as a high tech, elegant and responsible solution. The resulting exposure of ICF construction will greatly increase the product awareness in the region and the documentation and instrumentation will provide the validation to help influence policy and future project decisions.
The Onekama Hybrid Home demonstrates how ICF construction can be leveraged to reach not only exceptional levels of energy savings, but extraordinary improvements and quality in construction - at a cost below market comparables.
Right from the beginning, the designer worked to eliminate scrap, by drawing to the ICF block modulus and making corners and `bump outs' using full-sized corner blocks. Less cutting, less labor. And since ICFs eliminate the traditional rim joist, the design was able to offer a zero step entrance, in keeping with the Lifetime Design principles - at no additional cost.
The driving force behind this project was the general contractor, a second generation ICF builder, whose expertise and problem-solving approach to construction created not only this award winning project, but a system which can be replicated for an even greater impact. Hybrid Homes has developed a training system for each of the subcontractor trades and offers to educate the building officials with an inspectors' manual and a copy of PCA's "Prescriptive Design" guide. Their team approach pulls together complementary products and trades for pre-construction meetings to work through obstacles and create streamlined solutions. For example, the decision to provide fiber cement siding for enhanced durability required some special detailing with the corner ICF pieces to ensure solid corner attachments, along with training for both ICF crew and subcontractors.
The message of Hybrid Homes reaches out far beyond their project sphere. Recognized by Michigan's governor for their leadership in the use of renewable energy in residential construction, "Team Hybrid" delivered their message to hundreds of seminar attendees at the Michigan Energy Fair in 2007 / 2008. The homeowners have also become vocal advocates, opening up their home to tours and answering questions. Hybrid Homes continues to innovate, to integrate and to evolve their remarkable system of creating durable, exceptional quality and highly sustainable homes.
The Vitale project demonstrated that ICF construction can be not only energy efficient, but also quick and of top quality. This home was an Extreme Makeover Home Edition project for the benefit of a family with high medical bills and a low income. Good indoor air quality and low utility costs were of utmost importance. ICFs were chosen for their ability to deliver continuous insulation and an airtight envelope for better control of incoming air, with no offgassing or other impact on the indoor air quality. Mechanical ventilation was then provided through a heat recovery ventilator, with a MERV 16 filtration unit to deliver hospital quality air.
To meet the project deadline, the typical linear construction path of the ICF install separate from the other trades had to be changed to a more integrated timeline. For this job, the ICF walls were stacked as interior framing was built. For the frost wall, crews built ponywalls to provide the ICF wall support and first floor bracing. The basement sheetrock, upper floor siding and mechanicals were all installed parallel to the ICF build. In order for the ICF walls to come to strength within the one-day timeline, a 12,000 psi concrete mix was designed for a 4 hour cure. The lessons learned from this project's extreme overlap of trades can be applied to future projects for increased synergies of the building components and faster construction timelines.
Quality and energy efficiency remained a key focus throughout the construction. The thermal value of the ICF walls was continued with low E windows and energy scissor trusses insulated with closed cell foam. Additional utility cost savings was derived from high-efficiency mechanical equipment, an on-demand hot water system and solar panels to offset the electrical bill. Despite the accelerated nature of the build, this house tested at a very low air infiltration and anticipated energy savings of 53% - proof to the potential of integrated ICF construction. "The project went flawlessly. We had done the unimaginable - we built a home in one week from start to finish that outperformed homes built in a much longer timeframe." Brian McCarthy, McKernon Group.
2008 ICFA Small Residential - Silver Canyon Crest Residence - Sisters, Oregon 2008 ICFA Small Residential - Bronze
A. Mahon Residence - Penticton, British Columbia
ICFA International Award - Gold Valencia Heights
Location: Georgetown, Grand Cayman Architect: Darrel Ebanks, Tropical Architecture Group Ltd. Engineer: Sam Small, Small Engineering GC: Eldon Rankin ICF Manufacturer: BuildBlock Building Systems
Construction in the Cayman Islands is driven by two high priority needs - safety and energy efficiency. Since Hurricane Ivan almost destroyed all buildings on the island in 2004, it has become imperative to build hurricane category 5 resistant buildings. The Cayman Islands has a mean temperature of 80?F - 90?F almost year round. At times, the humidity drives up the heat index to 115?F. Electricity is diesel generated and very expensive. With the choice of ICFs in the construction of the Valencia Heights Condominiums, air-conditioning energy costs have been reduced from $400 to $80 per unit. Energy efficiency was a major marketing point for the condos.
While ICF construction has been tried before on the islands, installation errors have prevented its wide-spread acceptance. Current construction practice is mostly formed concrete and CMU. The contractor chose to hire as many trained ICF professionals as possible to ensure a trouble-free construction. The five experienced crewmembers were able to train the additional two workers and still meet the tight schedule, thanks to the relatively easy learning curve for ICF construction. The other challenge was the logistics of shipping the ICF product in an optimal timeframe to fit the construction schedule.
The successful ICF install and adherence to schedule brought some positive exposure for ICF construction to developers and builders in the Caymans. The European styling and elegant wrap-around balconies also helped to promote the flexibility of design available with ICF construction. And, the key issues of energy efficiency and hurricane resistant construction are becoming increasingly more pertinent. The builder expects that the success of this project will trigger ICF market growth in the Cayman Islands.
The outstanding qualities of the Onekama project earned this home not only a 5 star Energy Star rating, but also a Platinum level of the LEED for Homes certification. The thermal envelope was carefully integrated to include the high insulating factors and added thermal mass of ICF walls, Energy Star rated windows, and a blown in soy insulation along to top and inside corners of the raised heel roof trusses. This was combined with a passive solar design approach of siting the house for south facing windows with 3 ft. overhangs and exposed concrete floors for thermal mass. Passive solar provides most of the heating (and cooling), with just a little comfort added in the early morning winter hours through in-floor radiant heat.
The house also boasts an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) which transfers heat between air streams, and minimizes seasonal fluctuations of humidity. This filtration and ventilation system, combined with a radon venting system and limited source pollution from interior materials contributes to an overall healthier indoor living environment. Renewable energy from an on-site wind generator is expected to cover 66% of the home's electricity needs during a high usage month.
Additional contributions to the sustainable features of the home included the use of a 40% recycled fly-ash in the concrete mix for the ICF walls, reducing the carbon footprint of the concrete. Thanks to the effort of the designer to optimize the product modulus and an extensive recycling program on the jobsite, there was only one small bag of ICF material "waste," and even that was recycled. A rainwater harvesting system and solar hot water heating helped the project earn the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Associations (GLREA) Exemplary Project Award. Hybrid Homes has led by example with homes that exceed all current benchmarks of energy and environmental savings.