I remember reading a story to my children years ago about a big bad wolf and how a brick house kept him from enjoying three little pigs for dinner. Unfortunately that brick house can only keep the pigs safe. On the other hand, an insulating concrete form, or ICF, home would keep them safe, warm, and protected from the elements. That’s why in this Go Green post we are going to be finding out more about ICF walls and their sustainability benefits.
For generations, home builders in Las Cruces, New Mexico and around the country have primarily used three materials to build homes: sticks, bricks and concrete block. Technological advances and an increased focus on green building have driven many builders and homeowners to search for a better way to build homes. One of the great green technologies receiving increased attention is insulating concrete forms (ICF).
ICF is a relatively new building material that provides the long-lasting, durable strength of concrete. ICF is also more energy efficient, easier to use and more affordable than many other green building materials. Those are just a few of the reasons Las Cruces home builder David Coyle is working with ICF on a new Build Green New Mexico-certified custom home at Picacho Mountain.
According to Coyle, ICF’s high insulation value was the first thing that appealed to him as a Las Cruces home builder. However, there are many other benefits to using ICF. ICF provides structural strength, earthquake integrity, excellent thermal performance, four-hour fire rating, great sound insulation and is free of inert gasses (VOC free). Plus, ICF is highly resistant to fire, wind, mildew, black mold, termites and other pests.
“What most impresses me about ICF compared to other building products is the energy efficiency it adds to a home,” Coyle said. “I also like that it is a sound proof wall system, strong and long-lasting, in addition to being pretty much mold proof.”
There are many companies who produce ICF in the United States. Coyle is building this home using ICF products from Perform Wall in El Paso, Texas. ICF construction offers a simple building process and a wide range of design options. With Perform Wall ICF, curved walls, arch es, nooks and virtually any architectural design imagined can be created.
Another benefit of Perform Wall ICF is that the panels are lightweight and comprised largely of recycled polystyrene.
“From what I have seen, I really like the Perform Wall ICF product because it is 85 percent recycled polystyrene and 15 percent cement compound,” Coyle said. “Not only is it recycled, but it seems very strong and has a great feel to it versus a product with only Styrofoam product.”
Coyle is working with ICF installer Robert West on the construction of this home. Since 1995, West has been involved in the installation of ICF on more than 200 homes.
According to West, the upfront cost of building with Perform Wall ICF is about 10 to 15 percent more than traditional construction. However, most customers recover that cost within three years on savings from utilities and fire insurance.
Coyle recently became a certified green contractor through the National Association of Home Builders. Additionally, Coyle is considering construction of his personal home with Perform Wall ICF.
The use of the ICF isn’t the only thing that makes this David Coyle home green. Coyle’s commitment to green building is also evident in the site itself. Special attention has been paid to site preparation to ensure a minimum amount of natural vegetation is disturbed. Coyle is also composting materials used on the job site to reduce waste.
In addition to ICF, the home will include tankless hot water heaters, spray foam insulation, low-E windows and doors, solar PV, high-efficiency heating and cooling, Energy Star appliances, low flow water fixtures and low VOC paints, stains and flooring. Picacho Mountain is the only certified green subdivision in the Las Cruces, New Mexico area, which also helps to qualify this home for Build Green New Mexico green certification.
While we might not have to worry about the big bad wolf, there are definitely many forces of nature we must protect our homes from in the Las Cruces, New Mexico and the Southwest. Whether it is wind, rain, pests, heat, cold or fire, ICF will help protect your next home from the elements.
Come by Picacho Mountain today for more information about sustainability and green building. Or contact Picacho Mountain at 575-523-2500 for more information about ICF, green building or building your next new custom home in Las Cruces, New Mexico.