Have you ever wondered how ICF stood up next to traditional construction? Based on multiple research studies, it is apparent that ICF is the superior build. Traditionally, the wood-frame build has been the predominant choice for residential construction in the United States. However, with rising labor and wood costs, ICF is now a competitive choice, especially considering the added benefits over the lifetime of the building. The study states “although it may cost more initially, selecting high performance walls and ceilings can significantly reduce the energy consumption tied to space heating and cooling, which would lower utility bills and eventually offset the higher initial cost within a number of years”. To further emphasis this point the study utilized a hypothetical 3600 sq. ft home across 5 geographical locations in the US plus 3 more in Canada. They then estimated the energy performance of these homes in a wood-frame variation and ICF variation, both modeled according to local code requirements. 

For an assumed building life of 70 years, the data show overall lower impacts for the ICF variation in all locations, both in terms of total primary energy and global warming potential (GWP). Overall, the total ICF energy reduction varied from 4.8% to 12.7%. In terms of   GWP the impact was reduced up to 12.5%. Superior performance of the ICF house can be attributed to the “higher thermal resistance, higher thermal mass, and tighter construction inherent to ICF construction”. Overall, this study, and many like it, prove the investment in ICF is worthwhile across the entire life cycle of the building. With increased comfort, coupled with the added environmental benefits, and ICF build is the superior product.

[1] M.A. Sherman, A Life Cycle Comparison of Light-Frame Wood and Insulated Concrete Form Building Enveloeps: Energy Use and Green House Gases, Thesis, Universityof Tennessee, 2011.