Our Goal for Commercial ICF Construction is to Contact, Present and Nurture qualified Architectural Firms and Development Companies, educating and growing the awareness of how Cornerstone and working with ICF can provide excellent full circle building solutions.
ICF Technology - The Cutting Edge in Commercial Building Wall Systems
For nearly half a century, leave-in-place Insulating Concrete Forms have proven themselves as a premier, high-performance wall system, offering superior economic, environmental, and durability benefits.
Today, as more and more commercial building owners, architects, contractors, lenders and investors discover the cutting-edge value of ICFs, a 30+% annual growth makes it the most rapidly expanding building system in the U.S. ICFs use rigid foam insulation to form and encase concrete walls, like a concrete sandwich with insulating foam in place of the bread. On the job site, interlocking ICF blocks or panels are assembled with remarkable ease and held in place at a desired thickness with engineered ties. Reinforcing is often added, then concrete is poured into the cavity. Along with systems for easy mounting of finishes and channeling of utilities, the insulation remains in place with the concrete to provide ICFs' advanced economic, thermal, safety, environmental and comfort benefits.
The Inside Story on ICFs
Lightweight polystyrene foam forms assemble easily and remain as insulation. The integral form ties allow attachment of any interior wallboard while wiring paths are easily cut into the foam. A reinforced poured concrete core provides superior strength and durability.
Apply any exterior finish, from brick to acrylic finishes and more.
The quality of concrete costs little more.
The many benefits of a concrete building made with insulating concrete forms (ICFs) are available for only slightly more than the cost of ordinary wood frame. ICFs are simple to assemble and they consolidate several construction steps into one. The walls can be economical despite the use of high-quality materials.
How much does an ICF building cost?
Buildings by experienced contractors cost about .5-4% more than wood frame structures of the same design. Typical new U.S. buildings cost $60-100 per square foot. Building walls of ICFs adds $1.00-$4.00 to this figure. But since ICF buildings are more energy-efficient, the heating and cooling equipment can be smaller than in a frame structure. This can cut the cost of the final building by an estimated $.75 per square foot. So the net extra cost is about $.25-$3.25.
Commercial ICFs save energy and Money!
Estimated Annual Heating Savings
Estimated Annual Cooling Savings
Concrete buildings save energy.
Building a concrete structure with insulating concrete forms (ICFs) saves energy and money. The greater insulation, tighter construction, and temperature-smoothing mass of the walls conserve heating and cooling energy much better than conventional wood-frame walls. This reduces monthly fuel bills. It also allows the use of smaller heating and cooling equipment, saving money in construction.
How much will I save?
Buildings constructed with ICF exterior walls require an estimated 44% less energy to heat and 32% less energy to cool than comparable frame structures. A typical 2000 square foot building in the center of the U.S. will save approximately $200 in heating costs and $65 in air conditioning each year.
The bigger the building, the bigger the savings. In colder areas of the U.S. and Canada, heating savings will be more and cooling savings less. In hotter areas, heating savings will be less and cooling savings more.
How do we know all this?
The energy savings estimates come from a study of single-family houses spread across the U.S. and Canada. Researchers gathered data on 58 houses in all. Half had exterior walls constructed with concrete using ICFs made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) or extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam. The other half were neighboring houses with walls constructed of wood frame. All houses were relatively new (less than 6 years old) and built with modern methods.
The researchers compared the energy bill of each concrete house to its frame counterpart, carefully correcting for important differences to get an "apples-to-apples" comparison. Estimates of equipment savings are actual numbers reported by contractors that build ICF houses.
Where do the savings come from?
Insulating values for ICF walls using polystyrene foam are R-17 to R-26, compared to wood frame's R-9 to R-15. So ICF walls are expected to cut the conduction losses through foundation and above-grade walls by about half. And ICF walls are tighter. In tests, ICF houses averaged about 1/2 as much infiltration (air leakage) as frame. ICF walls do more than cut down on the biggest types of energy loss. The concrete gives them the heat-absorbing property, "thermal mass". This is the ability to smooth out large swings in temperature. It keeps the walls of the building warmer when the outdoor temperature hits its coldest extreme, and keeps them cooler when the outdoor temperature is hottest. The walls themselves "add back" heat or cooling to the building when it needs them most. This contributes about 6% of the structure's required energy for free.
Reduced equipment costs result from the energy savings. Since the energy needed is less, the furnaces and compressors that heat and cool can be smaller. And the more the energy savings, the greater the possible reduction in equipment size-- and the equipment cost.
What's the bottom line?
In planning a building, you can estimate that choosing concrete walls made of ICFs will save you hundreds of dollars per year in energy costs. As shown in the graphs, the savings are greater the bigger the building is. Heating savings are highest in cold climates, and cooling savings highest in warm climates.