Friday, March 02, 2012

Greenblock Insulated Concrete Forms

Greenblock Insulated Concrete Forms: More Than Energy Efficient and Resistant to Forces of Nature

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Habitat for Humanity is well-known for developing affordable housing, but its design and construction volunteers are also finding job sites fun as they learn how to build more sustainably with insulated concrete forms (ICF).

“One of the things I like with the product is our people enjoy their time on the job site,” said Habitat for Humanity of Seminole County’s Executive Director Penny Seater. “I just think there are so many plusses for our families and our volunteers,” she said.

The reduced weight of the forms during assembly means, there are less fingers smashed compared with other construction materials, and a lot fewer sore muscles, as well as less overall volunteer safety concerns for Habitat Seminole.

Greenblock Worldwide, LLC, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., was the manufacturer chosen for the Insulated Concrete Forms for two recently completed single-family, green and affordable homes for Habitat of Seminole County.

These homes are located in the Central Florida neighborhood of Altamonte Springs. John Riddle, Greenblock’s LEED Accredited Professional and Southeast Territory Manager, was present from pre-construction to final punch list, offering the project’s volunteers both technical and moral support.

The two homes were built side by side each with 1,556 sq. ft. of Greenblock ICF wall, one to the Florida Green Building Coalition’s (FGBC) green building rating system and one to the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED rating system. The LEED Home is anticipated to achieve Gold certification. Greenblock 2-4-2/4 inch core product was installed. The designer was Baker Barrios Architects, Inc., and the structural engineer was JHR Consultants, Inc.

Riddle, who serves as chairman of the USGBC’s Central Florida Chapter, and his chapter’s volunteers donated many hours of sustainable design and construction consulting time to the project team.  The structures are Habitat Seminole’s first LEED and FGBC registered projects. Nearby Evergreen University provided many of the volunteer ICF installers on one of the homes while local Habitat Seminole volunteers rolled up their sleeves to build the other one.

Once the households were occupied during the summer of 2011, the new home owners reported more than a 75 percent drop in utility bills compared to their last residences, going from over $400 per month to less than $100 electricity bills.

“That’s a tremendous savings,” said Seater, adding: “In low income housing, lower utility bills can be the difference between food on the table or not.” Deeper savings can be achieved with lower insurance costs due to reduced property damage during natural disasters in an ICF home.

In Florida, termites and hurricanes are also concerns but with Greenblock walls those worries are gone as well, she noted. A Greenblock ICF wall has a solid concrete core providing a hurricane, tornado, and seismic resistant home.

Numerous savings were recognized with Greenblock ICF, including time of construction because it can be installed faster than concrete blocks or wood frame construction methods. The ease of fitting blocks together and factory produced pre-engineering means less construction site waste. Furthermore, furring strips are built-in from the inside and outside; the self-contained vapor barrier eliminates the need for a house wrap.

You can even downsize the HVAC system for additional savings up front and for the long-term as less cooling cycles are required by the unit and that lowers utilities cost while providing less ongoing worn parts to replace and an overall longer life span for the heating and cooling units.

Greenblock President Jimmy Myrick explained the speed and ease of building with Greenblock ICFs helps affordable housing project developers achieve very efficient design and construction schedules while reducing the need for job training.

“These recent projects provided Habitat’s volunteers with a fulfilling experience as they learned how to work with a new wall system with just a few hours of training,” Myrick said. He added, “This helps Habitat keep its volunteers working on schedule and until the home is completed, plus they often come back for the next project.”

It is a relative quick construction method, the team can put up the home in a very short time. When using volunteer time, this is a very important factor, since most have other jobs and are available for short periods of time; therefore getting the home finished quickly also helps retain volunteers.

In fact, Seater said the next home they build is scheduled for ground breaking in January 2012 and will utilize the Greenblock ICFs which weigh approximately 3 pounds. The future homes will be following the same design executed on the Altamonte Springs homes, including installation of Greenblock ICF walls, as Habitat Seminole strives to replicate the same sustainable building performance with volunteers from nearby religious institutions and many satisfied helpers returning.

As the green initiative continues to gain ground with homeowners it is projected that when these homes sell they will be in greater demand for their safety, savings and sustainability. Your home is your castle and the new homeowners plan on being there for a long time. Building with Greenblock means the home will outlast any other method of construction out there.