In an effort to meet the growing demand for environmentally friendly, more energy efficient homes, designers have developed cost-saving heating and cooling systems, appliances and electrical systems. Until now, however, those improvements have been used in standard stick-framed homes where the energy savings can escape, literally, right through the walls.
Just south of Xenia in the Wright Cycle Estates, Beaver-Vu Construction and Waterproofing is building a home using new technology that marries the insulating properties of a polymer with the strength of concrete. Located at 2230 Schwinn Ave., the project is making use of Insulated Concrete Forms, or ICF, which combines polystyrene foam with reinforced concrete.
Used in the foundation and walls of the home, ICF offers greater energy efficiency (equivalent to R 22 insulation), as well as increased fire and storm resistance. ICF can be used in the walls of slab foundations, crawl spaces, basements, and the living area creating a healthier living environment by reducing excess noise and eliminating moisture problems common to traditional construction techniques.
Marty Walling is the vice president of Beaver-Vu Construction, based in Beavercreek, Ohio. He recently became one of a select group of professional builders nationwide to earn the Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation and is an authority in the new, continuously insulating technology.
“An ICF home is extremely energy efficient because it is air-tight,” Walling says. “No joints exist in the exterior wall envelope, or between walls and floors. This prevents conditioned air leaking from the interior to the exterior of the home. Energy savings from reduced air infiltration are obvious when compared to the large amount of heating and cooling losses experienced in traditionally built houses.”
Walling says that the idea of building an ICF-structured home had interested him for some time, but he was skeptical of the quality and design of available materials. “I investigated Nudura Insulated Concrete Forms which has a local distributor, Holdfast Technologies,” Walling says. “After attending one of their informational seminars, I felt their materials met all the criteria I was looking for.” Almost as important was the choice of location for this unique project.
For Walling there was no better location than Xenia, Ohio. He chose Xenia because of his long history with the Wright Cycle Estates development and to help promote one of the benefits of ICF construction: its inherent resistance to high winds, up to 250 miles per hour.
“We own building lots at Wright Cycle Estates and over the years we’ve heard endless comments regarding Xenia’s tornadic history,” Walling said. “Sometimes serious questions were raised regarding safe rooms within slab construction. So, if we were going to build this project anyway, why not make the most logical choice for the location.” As one might expect, increased energy efficiency and structural integrity comes with a higher price tag.
Until the ICF technology is more widely used, construction may be more expensive than that of traditional wood-framed homes. According to Walling, however, the expense is negligible.
“Depending on the build, construction costs using the new technology can be anywhere from 5 to 10 percent higher.” He added that the long-term benefits such as reduced sound transmission, greater fire and moisture resistance and overall energy savings would far outweigh any initial expense and insists that ICF is a good investment in the Miami Valley.
The ICF home project is expected to be completed in late March and will be on the market and available for tours early in April. A public open house is planned as well to give people a chance to see, first hand, how this new building technology can benefit future homeowners. For more information on this project, contact Marty Walling at Beaver-Vu Construction by calling (937) 426-4455 or go online to http://www.beaver-vu.com.