ICF's are hollow plastic foam blocks which are stacked in the shape of the exterior walls providing a self-sustaining supportive structure for pouring concrete. After setting horizontal and vertical steel reinforcing, the forms are filled with concrete to create a solid structure, ultimately sandwiching the concrete between two layers of high-insulation foam. With no other required preparation, drywall (note solid backing making it extremely durable) is attached to the interior surface, while brick, stone, metal, or cement plank is applied to the exterior. The end result is a building that looks like any other, but with better benefits such as superior energy efficiency, a quiet and comfortable indoor evnivonment, and significant resistance to natural disasters like fire and tornadoes. ICF's not only withstand rot, rust, and termites, but they also help with a reduction in noise entering the building. ICF systems offer the basic virtues of concrete's strength, durability, low maintenance, and energy efficiency.
We have used these walls in schools, office buildings, fire stations, and a host of other projects. The project shown above under construction was completed in 2009. It is the first school in Indiana to use ICFs for exterior walls.
Saints Peter and Paul Parish had not had a renovation since 1960. This presented two opportunities: a major expansion to an existing shcool, and the opportunity to master plan the future construction for Phase II and Phase III. 28,000 square feet of new space was added to the existing 26,000 square feet for a total area of 54,000 square feet.
We chose to use an innovative ICF building system to add a multi-purpose facility and classrooms to the existing school after recognizing many major beneficial factors:
1) construction savings in labor 2) long term energy benefits 3) structurally superior walls 4) "green" benefits of recycled concrete aggregate 5) reduction of heating and cooling costs by 35-45 % 6) a nearly air tight uninterrupted envelope
Insulated Concrete Forms are similiar to and go together somewhat like Lego Blocks. Permanent polystyrene foam panels are separated with plastic combs that stack to form hollow walls. The hollow core is filled with reinforcing steel and concrete to form permenant walls.
Cold weather does not stop construction as with standard concrete pours or masonry construction as the insulation protects the new concrerte and holds the heat caused by curing concrete. Therefore it helps keep construciton on schedule.
Exterior walls can withstand a 250 mile per hour wind making the entire building a "safe zone". Exterior walls have an insulating R-Value of over 50. And ICF construction provides a very quiet interior space.
Coupled with a VRF HVAC system, utility bills at Saints Peter and Paul Parish only increased from $5,000 per month in January and February of 2009 to $5,300 per month in January and February of 2010 even though the square footage of the building nearly doubled.