Building Green with ICF’s and Concrete

What does building a green structure mean? Boiling it down, green building pertains to a relatively small number of general concepts:

  • Green is all about energy conservation. A green structure should minimize the amount of energy that is wasted in the operation of the building.
  • The health, well-being and productivity of the people inhabiting the structure should be supported in both the design and operation of the building.
  • The materials used as well as the utilization of the site and the construction process itself should all contribute to keeping the building’s impact on the environment as minimal as possible.

Energy Star Certification - Energy Star was introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1992. It was a program designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Features of an Energy Star structure include comprehensive air sealing, reduced thermal bridging, insulation that is properly installed and high performance windows. The EPA provides a set of comprehensive thermal enclosure requirements that must be met by builder partners during construction. In addition, Energy Star buildings have efficient water management systems and properly designed efficient HVAC systems that are often down-sized as a result of the tightness of structures built to Energy Star standards.

HERS Rating System - A HERS rating is a home energy rating that includes energy modeling with accredited software. The HERS index is a number that comes from the rating. A home that just meets code has an index of 100. For every point either higher or lower than 100, a home is that % more or less efficient than it would be if built strictly to code. The lower the HERS rating the better.

Focus on Energy - Focus on Energy partners with Wisconsin utilities to build structures that are more energy efficient than structures built to Wisconsin’s Uniform Dwelling Code and more energy efficient commercial buildings.

United States Green Building Council and LEED - Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices in both residential and commercial construction. LEED v4 is the newest, more specialized version of LEED which focuses on materials in a way that goes beyond how much is used to include what is in the materials as well as the effect of the materials on human health and the environment. It takes a more performance-based approach to air quality and occupant comfort.

  • LEED for Homes is designed for single family homes and multi-family buildings of one to three stories
  • LEED for Building Design and Construction addresses design and construction for new buildings and major renovations.

In its commercial segment, LEED v4 includes new construction, core and shell, schools, retail, data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality and healthcare.

The LEED v4 criteria include location and transportation, sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation and regional priority. Insulating concrete form construction can affect four of the criteria listed above, those being sustainable sites, energy and atmosphere, material and resources and indoor environmental quality. Across these criteria and in the construction segments identified, ICF’s can contribute between 32 and 35 points towards a potential 110 to earn a Platinum certification. A minimum of 40 total points is necessary to earn a LEED v4 certification.