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A Greener Charlottesville: ICF Building

By: Myles Henderson Email
By: Myles Henderson Email

Energy efficiency is a hot topic in the business of green building, but a new wave of technology is making the idea of a "green" building that much easier. When it comes to making a home more energy efficient, solar and geothermal systems seem to be leading the way these days. But, there is another building trend that has been gaining ground, even in the midst of a bad building environment.

Charlie Carter, an ICF project General Contractor, says, "We're trying to do a little bit of a different structure and keep it as sustainable and green as we could, keeping our budget about the same." Carter decided to use ICFs or insulated concrete form. "They are essentially very large legos that are insulated on the outside and inside, with an inside core where you can place concrete and you use that to build the envelope of a building." says Ren Angle, ICF Specialist with Allied Concrete

ICFs are a very costs effective building material that provides great insulation, saving big money in energy costs. Jon Garber, the project Engineer says, "He (Carter) has been able, to this point, to install this system for the same costs of more traditional building systems. He will save 60 to 80% of his electricity the day that he opens the door for business." Building with ICFs is better for the environment because they are made from 60% recycled materials and prevent trees from being used as building materials. "Per house we are probably saving 60 to 80 trees per house we do." says Kenny Williams, ICF project Builder.

ICF buildings are also fire resistant, mold resistant, and very strong, making them wind and storm resistant. How strong you ask? A similar ICF building company in Hampton Roads tested the strength by using an air cannon. First they fired a 2x4 at 100mph at a traditional wood house with vinal siding.... The 2x4 busted straight through the wall. Then they fired a 2x4 an ICF wall at 300mph... The 2x4 cracked, leaving the wall in almost perfect condition. These are the types of winds a house could experience during a strong hurricane or tornado.

Williams adds, "Energy bills are suppose to double in Virginia in the next two years, is the forecast and I just think that it's the best product out there. We're really excited about putting it up."

For more information about ICF building in Central Virginia visit

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