insulated concrete forms

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Maine Firm Develops a New Type of Insulated Block

The Comfort Block combines concrete block and EPS insulation into a 16-inch thick package

Posted on Jun 2 2017 by Scott Gibson

A Maine-based concrete block manufacturer, Genest Concrete, has developed an insulated block combining concrete and expanded polystyrene. The blocks are designed to be assembled with a thin layer of adhesive rather than conventional mortar.


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Image Credits:

  1. Genest Concrete

Foam Forms Create an Energy-Efficient Concrete House

Salisbury, NH

Jan 15 2010 By Rouleen Williams | 11 comments

General Specs and Team

Location: Salisbury, NH
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Living Space : 2600 sqf
Cost (USD/sq. ft.): $80/sqf

Design: Rouleen Williams, Al Rossetto, and Online Design
Construction consultant: Al Rossetto
Framing contractor: D&D Construction

Construction

Sub-slab insulation: 2.5-in. EPSExpanded polystyrene. Type of rigid foam insulation that, unlike extruded polystyrene (XPS), does not contain ozone-depleting HCFCs. EPS frequently has a high recycled content. Its vapor permeability is higher and its R-value lower than XPS insulation. EPS insulation is classified by type: Type I is lowest in density and strength and Type X is highest. (R-10)
Wall construction: R-24 Logix ICFs (total wall thickness 11 3/4 in. downstairs, 9 1/2 in. upstairs); great room gable is stick-framed with 2x4s filled with cavity insulation plus a continuous interior layer of 1-in. polyisocyanurate.
Windows: Koltech triple-glazed
Ceiling insulation: 16-in. cellulose (R-60)
Roofing: 26-ga. steel roofing
Siding: CertainTeed fiber-cement lap siding

Energy

Appliances: Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners.

Space heat: Propane-fired Buderus boiler; hydronic in-floor radiant heat distribution
Water heater: Indirect Superstor tank

Water Efficiency

Domestic water pipes: PEXCross-linked polyethylene. Specialized type of polyethylene plastic that is strengthened by chemical bonds formed in addition to the usual bonds in the polymerization process. PEX is used primarily as tubing for hot- and cold-water distribution and radiant-floor heating. tubing

Indoor Air Quality

Mechanical ventilation: Venmar ERV(ERV). The part of a balanced ventilation system that captures water vapor and heat from one airstream to condition another. In cold climates, water vapor captured from the outgoing airstream by ERVs can humidify incoming air. In hot-humid climates, ERVs can help maintain (but not reduce) the interior relative humidity as outside air is conditioned by the ERV.

Certification

5 Star + Energy Star rated

An owner-builder finds that insulating concrete forms (ICFs) work well for DIY walls

By Rouleen Williams

My plans to build a dream home took years to bear fruit. I took the first step in 1988, when I bought an 18-acre property in Salisbury, N.H. The lot slopes to the southwest, with a spectacular western view over a beaver pond to Mt. Kearsarge.

It took me 19 years to save enough to qualify for a construction loan. In many ways it was good that the process took so long, because the home I finally built is much better than the one I first envisioned.

Lessons Learned

The contractors were unfamiliar with ICFs. After the walls were half-built, rebar and metal strapping protruded from the tops of the concrete. The framers, who didn't realize these were critical wall components, wanted to cut off the protruding pieces of metal to get them out of their way when they were setting floor trusses.

The plumbers put a few unnecessary holes through the ICF foundation, and the electricians hacked away the ICF foam to expose the concrete that they were used to working with. After a few training sessions, however, the contractors all learned to work with this unfamiliar product. I can't say they embraced it—but the end result turned out fine.

Click here to see a video tour of this home.


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Image Credits:

  1. Daniel Morrison
  2. Rouleen Williams
  3. Toshi Woudenberg

Sunroom Addition in Rhode Island

Barrington, RI

Jan 21 2009 By Rob Wotzak | 0 comments

General Specs and Team

Location: Barrington, RI
Living Space : 635 sqf
Cost (USD/sq. ft.): $280/sqf

Builder: Joseph C. Cracco, CGR, CAPS, CGP, Modern Yankee Builders
Architect/designer: Katrin Boening and Sean Solley, Solleydesign

Construction

Foundation: ICFInsulated concrete form. Hollow insulated forms, usually made from expanded polystyrene (EPS), used for building walls (foundation and above-ground); after stacking and stabilizing the forms, the aligned cores are filled with concrete, which provides the wall structure. basement (R-22)
Walls: 2x6, 24in. o.c.; XPSExtruded polystyrene. Highly insulating, water-resistant rigid foam insulation that is widely used above and below grade, such as on exterior walls and underneath concrete floor slabs. In North America, XPS is made with ozone-depleting HCFC-142b. XPS has higher density and R-value and lower vapor permeability than EPS rigid insulation. sandwiched within headers (R-10), fiberglass batts (R-19)
Windows: double-glazed, low-eLow-emissivity coating. Very thin metallic coating on glass or plastic window glazing that permits most of the sun’s short-wave (light) radiation to enter, while blocking up to 90% of the long-wave (heat) radiation. Low-e coatings boost a window’s R-value and reduce its U-factor. (R-2.9, SHGCSolar heat gain coefficient. The fraction of solar gain admitted through a window, expressed as a number between 0 and 1. - .29)
Roof: 2x6 T&G roof decking over exposed rafters; 4-in. polyisocyanurate foam board with taped seams(R-24); 2x sleepers and 5/8-in. plywood sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. over rigid foam

Energy

Heating/cooling: hydronic baseboard tied into existing loops on upper floor; new zone off existing furnace with programmable thermostat at main floor; no heat at basement; variable-speed air handler, condenser (13 SEER(SEER) The efficiency of central air conditioners is rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the SEER rating of a unit, the more energy efficient it is. The SEER rating is Btu of cooling output during a typical hot season divided by the total electric energy in watt-hours to run the unit. For residential air conditioners, the federal minimum is 13 SEER. For an Energy Star unit, 14 SEER. Manufacturers sell 18-20 SEER units, but they are expensive. ) in existing top floor

  • Bank of windows provides ample daylightingUse of sunlight for daytime lighting needs. Daylighting strategies include solar orientation of windows as well as the use of skylights, clerestory windows, solar tubes, reflective surfaces, and interior glazing to allow light to move through a structure. and natural cooling
  • ICFInsulated concrete form. Hollow insulated forms, usually made from expanded polystyrene (EPS), used for building walls (foundation and above-ground); after stacking and stabilizing the forms, the aligned cores are filled with concrete, which provides the wall structure. foundation
  • Continuous XPSExtruded polystyrene. Highly insulating, water-resistant rigid foam insulation that is widely used above and below grade, such as on exterior walls and underneath concrete floor slabs. In North America, XPS is made with ozone-depleting HCFC-142b. XPS has higher density and R-value and lower vapor permeability than EPS rigid insulation. installed above roof decking (virtually no thermal bridgingHeat flow that occurs across more conductive components in an otherwise well-insulated material, resulting in disproportionately significant heat loss. For example, steel studs in an insulated wall dramatically reduce the overall energy performance of the wall, because of thermal bridging through the steel. )
  • Rigid foam insulation built into window and door headers
  • Electronic programmable thermostat

Water Efficiency

  • Reduced lawn area (less irrigation demand)

Indoor Air Quality

  • Temporary filters covered HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. returns during construction
  • MERV 11 filters fitted to AC returns post-construction
  • All materials kept dry during construction (just-in-time delivery, tarps above and below any stored lumber)
  • FormaldehydeChemical found in many building products; most binders used for manufactured wood products are formaldehyde compounds. Reclassified by the United Nations International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2004 as a “known human carcinogen."-free Advantech OSB subfloor

Green Materials and Resource Efficiency

  • Ensured durability through meticulous detailing of drainage and ventilation
  • FSCNonprofit organization that promotes forestry practices that are sustainable from environmental and social standpoints; FSC certification on a wood product is an indicator that the wood came from a well-managed forest.-certified cedar shingle siding
  • Demolished foundation ground into gravel for reuse
  • Other construction debris recycled
  • Optimal value engineering (OVE)

The goal was to raise sustainability but not costs
The owners of this traditional Rhode Island home wanted to better express their eclectic taste when upgrading their cramped porch to a sunroom addition. A better view of the river was a side benefit.

Lessons Learned

Modern Yankee's trek to the 2007 International Builders' Show left its principals pleasantly surprised at how sustainable their standard practices already were. They still logged plenty of hours of research for this addition. This not only made the results better than the clients had asked for, but further integrated green concepts into Modern Yankee's "business as usual," proving that quality, affordability, and sustainability can all go hand in hand.


Rob Wotzak is assistant editor at GreenBuildingAdvisor.com

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Image Credits:

  1. Joseph Cracco
  2. Rob Wotzak

Luxury Home Earns Gold NAHB Energy Value Housing Award

Chino Valley, AZ

Sep 26 2008 By Rob Wotzak | 0 comments

General Specs and Team

Location: Chino Valley, AZ
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 3
Living Space : 3202 sqf
Cost (USD/sq. ft.): $90/sqf

Student labor was free

Builder: Yavapai College Residential Building Technology Program; Tony Grahame, Director.
Architect/designer: Yapavi College architectural design students and staff

Construction

Foundation: combination - slab-on-grade XPSExtruded polystyrene. Highly insulating, water-resistant rigid foam insulation that is widely used above and below grade, such as on exterior walls and underneath concrete floor slabs. In North America, XPS is made with ozone-depleting HCFC-142b. XPS has higher density and R-value and lower vapor permeability than EPS rigid insulation. foam at edge (R-5), ICFInsulated concrete form. Hollow insulated forms, usually made from expanded polystyrene (EPS), used for building walls (foundation and above-ground); after stacking and stabilizing the forms, the aligned cores are filled with concrete, which provides the wall structure. crawl space (R-16), preformed foundation panels (Superior Walls) with blown-in cellulose (R-26.5)
Walls: 2x6 @ 24 in. o.c.; 2-in. XPS and 5-1/2-in. unfaced fiberglass batt (R-29)
Windows: double-pane, low-eLow-emissivity coating. Very thin metallic coating on glass or plastic window glazing that permits most of the sun’s short-wave (light) radiation to enter, while blocking up to 90% of the long-wave (heat) radiation. Low-e coatings boost a window’s R-value and reduce its U-factor., argonInert (chemically stable) gas, which, because of its low thermal conductivity, is often used as gas fill between the panes of energy-efficient windows. -filled (SHGCSolar heat gain coefficient. The fraction of solar gain admitted through a window, expressed as a number between 0 and 1.=.30 to .59; R 2.9-3.3)
Roof: dngineered trusses; blown-in cellulose (R-38)
Garage: thermally and pressure-isolated from living space

Energy

Heating/cooling: split AC system (46,000 Btuh, 14 SEER(SEER) The efficiency of central air conditioners is rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the SEER rating of a unit, the more energy efficient it is. The SEER rating is Btu of cooling output during a typical hot season divided by the total electric energy in watt-hours to run the unit. For residential air conditioners, the federal minimum is 13 SEER. For an Energy Star unit, 14 SEER. Manufacturers sell 18-20 SEER units, but they are expensive. ); dual-stage direct-venting gas furnace (56,672/80,960 BTU, 92.1 AFUEAnnual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Widely-used measure of the fuel efficiency of a heating system that accounts for start-up, cool-down, and other operating losses that occur during real-life operation. AFUE is always lower than combustion efficiency. Furnaces sold in the United States must have a minimum AFUE of 78%. High ratings indicate more efficient equipment. )
Water heating: solar domestic hot water (40.9-sq.-ft. panel, 80-gallon storage tank w/ backup electric)

Photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.: 2 KW
Solar water heating: 49.1sq.ft. panel, 80-gallon storage tank

  • Whole-house Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. interior and exterior lighting package with CFLCompact fluorescent lamp. Fluorescent lightbulb in which the tube is folded or twisted into a spiral to concentrate the light output. CFLs are typically three to four times as efficient as incandescent lightbulbs, and last eight to ten times as long. CFLs combine the efficiency of fluorescent light with the convenience of an Edison or screw-in base, and new types have been developed that better mimic the light quality of incandescents. Not all CFLs can be dimmed, and frequent on-off cycling can shorten their life. Concerns have been raised over the mercury content of CFLs, and though they have been deemed safe, proper recycling and disposal is encouraged. bulbs
  • Extremely tight building envelopeExterior components of a house that provide protection from colder (and warmer) outdoor temperatures and precipitation; includes the house foundation, framed exterior walls, roof or ceiling, and insulation, and air sealing materials. (blower door test 0.96 ACHACH stands for Air Changes per Hour. This is a metric of house air tightness. ACH is often expressed as ACH50, which is the air changes per hour when the house is depressurized to -50 pascals during a blower door test. The term ACHn or NACH refers to "natural" air changes per hour, meaning the rate of air leakage without blower door pressurization or depressurization. While many in the building science community detest this term and its use (because there is no such thing as "normal" or "natural" air leakage; that changes all the time with weather and other conditions), ACHn or NACH is used by many in the residential HVAC industry for their system sizing calculations. @50 Pascals)
  • Roof overhangs optimized for summer shading and winter solar gain
  • Energy Star appliances and fans
  • All ductwork located within conditioned spaceInsulated, air-sealed part of a building that is actively heated and/or cooled for occupant comfort.

Water Efficiency

  • Low-flow toilets, faucets, and showerheads
  • Water-conserving dishwasher
  • 1,250-gallon rainwater-collection system
  • Gray water distribution system
  • All hot water taps within 30 ft. of hot water storage tank

Indoor Air Quality

  • Balanced whole-house air exchange system with MERV-10 and HEPA filtration
  • All construction materials contain low or no VOCsVolatile organic compound. An organic compound that evaporates readily into the atmosphere; as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs are organic compounds that volatize and then become involved in photochemical smog production.
  • Low formaldehydeChemical found in many building products; most binders used for manufactured wood products are formaldehyde compounds. Reclassified by the United Nations International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2004 as a “known human carcinogen." content in particleboard cabinets

Green Materials and Resource Efficiency

  • Decking, ICFs, wall, and ceiling insulation include recycled content
  • Cardboard and metal construction materials recycled
  • Precast insulated foundation panels
  • Advanced framingHouse-framing techniques in which lumber use is optimized, saving material and improving the energy performance of the building envelope. techniques

Certification

NAHBNational Association of Home Builders, which awards a Model Green Home Certification. Energy Value Housing Award: gold

2006 NAHB Green Building Award: Custom Home (Research) category

Students' Academic Pursuits Provide Real-World Results

This luxury house won an NAHBNational Association of Home Builders, which awards a Model Green Home Certification. Energy Value Housing Award (Gold) while also complying with several sets of standards including LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. , Environments for Living(EFL). A green building program that focuses on building science to improve home energy efficiency and comfort. EFL is administered by Masco Contractor Services., and ALA HealthHouse. It was designed to be healthy, durable, and affordable — as should be the goal of any sustainable building. Every detail was carefully considered, making the home efficient to build and live in.

Lessons Learned

In much of the country we  take our abundant supply of clean water for granted, but a growing number of homeowners have to think twice before they wash their car or water their lawn. Builders in the Southwest have been dealing with this forever, but pollution, climate changes, and development pressure could make this a big concern just about anywhere.

"Water could be the next expensive commodity for homeowners," says Tony Grahame. He believes a whole-system approach is necessary to make a real difference. Large rainwater catchment systems and separate grey water plumbing can eliminate the burden that landscape irrigation puts on municipal water supplies in this region, but efficient plumbing layout and low-flow fixtures are just as important. This is one place where a little planning can reap big rewards without much expense.


Rob Wotzak is assistant editor at GreenBuildingAdvisor.com

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Image Credits:

  1. Tony Grahame
  2. Toshi Woudenberg

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