Frederick J. Poehler, AIA, ASIA, LEED AP Habitat Studio, Incorporated

I can easily testify to the value CELBLOX ICF construction brings to green sustainable building design and construction. As the project architect overseeing the Sauk County Health Care Center project, I watched the project team weigh the benefits of ICF versus stick frame construction. In the end, the design team embraced the advantages ICF brought the project and took advantage of the technical/construction expertise CELBLOX was able to provide.

What triggered our team’s initial interest was the facility engineer’s desire for storm protection. This led to additional discussions on longevity and maintenance, mold and allergens and energy savings.

ICF construction is superior to stick frame construction in its ability to withstand storm events. No system can guarantee absolute protection form all storm events, but ICF’s mass and rigidity allow it to better resist wind and minimize vibration, greatly enhancing a structure’s ability to withstand a major storm event.

Where longevity is critical and there is a desire for minimal maintenance, ICF brings big advantages. Many facilities (especially public) run on minimal budgets and staffing. This often leads to maintenance and upkeep being delayed longer than desired. This in turn allows small maintenance problems to become large before they are discovered. Many maintenance issues revolve around water invading the building structure. Stick frame will rot, mold, break down, etc. when exposed to water requiring repair or replacement. ICF structure stands up to water (by not absorbing it) thereby maintaining its integrity and minimizing water damage repair costs.

Mold and allergens are a growing concern across the design/construction world in general. For medical and senior facilities these concerns gain additional importance. The wood and batt insulation of typical stick frame can support (by being a food source) mold and allergen growth (especially when wet). In contrast, ICF is not a food source, therefore minimizing mold and allergen issues.

Last, ICF generates energy savings. ICF walls provide thermal mass and air tight construction minimizing heating and cooling needs. One needs to remember the exterior shell is made up of walls, doors/windows, roof and mechanical equipment. All parts of the exterior shell must be constructed for energy efficiency to maximize dollar savings. ICF walls provide a critical energy saving s advantage to the exterior shell.

Beyond the ICF product’s physical advantages, the design team took advantage of CELBLOX’s technical expertise and construction knowledge. CELBLOX provided timely answers to technical questions, arranged for energy modelling, made presentations to design team and to the client and supplied practical construction experience and support. The greater public and much of the design/construction world is still getting to know ICF. CELBLOX easily communicates all of its advantages and is closing the knowledge gap.