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Tips On Creating Eco-Friendly Buildings

Insulated Concrete Formwork is relatively new to New Zealand but is tipped to revolutionise the construction industry, writes Anthony Corin.

By: Anthony Corin

2 July 2023

As sustainability becomes a focal point in New Zealand’s construction industry, modern construction systems have taken the spotlight, transforming the way we build our communities and elevating our building standards.

Eco-friendly construction systems have emerged in response to irresponsible, short-term construction solutions, by placing priority on the environmental impact of the build and overall sustainability of the development.

Among these innovative systems, Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICF) has risen in popularity. A system relatively new to NZ that is sure to revolutionise the construction industry by significantly contributing to greener buildings.

What Is Icf?

Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICF) is an advanced building technology that exceeds NZ’s building standards. ICFs are hollow, lightweight insulated EPS forms that are interlocked and reinforced with steel. They are erected at the construction site and filled typically with 150mm of waterproofed, reinforced concrete. Unlike traditional concrete forms, which are removed after the concrete cures, ICFs are left in place.

Energy And Health

Green buildings are constructed using superior energy efficient designs. A key advantage of ICF is its excellent thermal performance with a high R-Value over 4.2, exceeding the country’s current standards. Air leakage in a structure is a large contributor to energy loss, resulting in less effective insulation and higher energy costs.

The insulation properties of ICF significantly reduce heat transfer, as the concrete has a high heat absorption capacity. This results in buildings being able to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature all year round, increasing the indoor air quality for residents’ health, and reducing the dependence on energy usage to provide heating and cooling.

By minimising the energy demands of heating and cooling systems it results in substantial energy savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Disaster Resistance

Disaster resistance plays a large role in green buildings. Due to the incredible structural integrity and longevity of ICF homes, the construction system performs well in earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and fires.

In recent times, NZ has witnessed the devastating impact that extreme weather events can have on our communities and homes, resulting in a seemingly endless amount of clean-up and rebuilding.

ICF builds are resilient to the damages of these events and it is a construction material that will last and require very low maintenance over the long-term.

Sustainable Material

The materials used in ICFs are environmentally friendly, being resistant to rust, rot, fire, light, oxidation and pests, making this a responsible material for construction.

The insulated forms are made from recycled materials and the energy efficient design of ICF homes means you will be reducing your carbon footprint. The incredible longevity of concrete reduces carbon emissions in the long-term. This is a sustainable material due to it being a long-life solution. Even at the end of the life cycle for a concrete build, the concrete can be crushed and recycled as an aggregate for further use.

A Greener Tomorrow

The integration of Insulated Concrete Formwork will bring significant progress to NZ’s construction industry and the further development of our communities, creating greener and more sustainable buildings. NZ is an international leader in sustainable practises and environmental impact accountability.

As the country continues to prioritise sustainable development, the use of ICF not only enhances energy efficiency and meets green building goals but also improves durability and living comfort.

Those looking to build their next project must consider sustainable solutions. ICF is a material that aligns with NZ’s commitment to sustainability and carbon neutrality. By choosing to build with ICF developers make a responsible choice to contribute towards sustainable construction, reduce waste, and minimise their project’s carbon footprint, paving the way for a greener and more sustainable country.

Anthony Corin and his team specialise in property development and construction using ICFs and operating through a relational contract, open-book system. Shorcom Ltd, 0800 SHORCOM, www.shorcom.co.nz

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