Commercial Sector: Growth and Opportunities
Commercial ICF construction is one of brightest opportunities in the entire construction industry right now. Demand for sustainable, energy-efficient buildings in all areas of the commercial sector has created significant opportunities for anyone involved with insulating concrete forms.
Here's why: Market forces such as high energy prices, government green building mandates, and natural disasters are creating demand for the type of buildings ICFs can deliver more quickly and cost-competitively than any other building method…
Commercial jobs are often more complex and more ICF-intensive than residential work.
The commercial construction and multifamily housing markets look promising in year ahead. There are tremendous rewards to be gained if you take your business commercial, but you must to be sufficiently prepared to enter this market and reap the rewards.
Here are some of the differences you must be prepared for when you make the leap from residential ICF construction to the larger and more time-sensitive commercial construction… Read the entire story…
In the world of insulated concrete forms, the dozens of competing designs can nearly all be categorized as "block" or "panel" systems. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks.
With preassembled blocks, or fixed-tie designs, the ties or webs that hold the two foam panels together are permanently molded into the EPS foam at the manufacturing plant.
"Knockdown" or panel systems, on the other hand, require the installer to assemble the plastic ties and foam panels at the jobsite prior to or during wall erection.
Each of these ICF "families" has certain traits in common. For example, panel systems almost always save on shipping because the foam panels can be packaged much more compactly. Preassembled blocks are said to be faster to stack and stronger during the pour.
But what are the real facts?...
The Brownstones at Maywood Park is a high-end development project that has set a new standard for downtown Oklahoma City. Built in the Flat Iron District in the heart of downtown, it has helped revitalize the community that surrounds it.
Looking at the finished project, most bystanders probably appreciate its architecture, which matches the "Bricktown" theme of the district that surrounds it. But unless they live there, they likely don't know about its energy efficiency and quiet strength.
"The Brownstones at Maywood Park are a perfect example of why ICFs make sense in an urban setting," says Terrisa Singleton, marketing director at Buildblock.
ICF News Roundup Arxx Buys ECO-Block Arxx Corp. has purchased ECO-Block, LLC, a Dallas, Texas,-based brand of insulating concrete forms.
The move comes just months after their purchase of Albuquerque-based American PolySteel, and tall-wall bracing manufacturer Uniscaffold, LLC.
Financing these acquisitions is a group of venture capitalists, which began their entry in the ICF market in 2007 by providing start-up capital for Apex Block, a cement-EPS "composite" ICF. They purchased Arxx in December of last year, and have made a string of acquisitions this year.
The move adds a knock-down form to Arxx Corp.'s line-up, and also gives the company access to ECO-Block's extensive distribution network.
“Joe Bob Lake, President of ECO-Block, says, "We…wanted to align ourselves with a company that shared our values and our vision of providing innovative, high-performance building solutions.”
Logix Announces Knockdown Form, New Plant in California Logix Insulated Concrete Forms has begun manufacturing at a facility located in McFarland, California. The plant adds significant new capacity to an ICF company that is already one of the top producers in the industry.
“We recognize the growing acceptance and increased demand… in California and the Southwest,” says Lyle Hamilton, VP Sales and Marketing for Logix Western Division. "We are very excited about the long term opportunities in this region.”
In related news, Logix has rolled out several significant new products, including an entire "knockdown" panel system to complement their existing lineup of fixed-web forms. (See story on page 44.)
Two years ago the company re-engineered their 90-degree corner, and is now making similar improvements to their 45-degree corner form.
"Feedback from the field is that the Logix 90-degree corner is virtually bulletproof," says Francis Roma, Logix Technical Manager. "We have now added a similar diagonal corner web to the 45-degree corner and expect similar performance.
"These improvements are an indication of our commitment to making ICF construction easier and more profitable for the builder, continues Roma.
Fox Blocks Gets NY Approval Fox Blocks, a division of Omaha-based Airlite Plastics, has now gained code approval from the City of New York.
The announcement comes on the heels of a string of other code approvals from the Midwestern ICF manufacturer; it has now been certified by every major code body in the United States, including the ICC, Florida state, Wisconsin state, Miami-Dade, City of Los Angeles, and now City of New York. The reference report for the New York approval is MEA 201-08-M. To view this report, or the certificates for any of the other codes, visit the "Technical Data" section of the Fox Blocks website.
"These code approvals indicate not only that we have an outstanding product, but also that we are committed to opening doors for ICF builders and architects nationwide."
Jackson notes that the company has also applied for Canadian building code approval through the CCMC and expects to receive a certificate from that organization within a few months.
NRMCA Completes Fly Ash Study
The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association has completed a two-year research project on the performance of fly-ash concrete.
Specifically, the goal of the project was to determine how to increase the percentage of fly ash in the mix (replacing Portland cement) without negatively affecting the performance of the finished concrete.
“Use of recycled materials, such as fly ash, in the production of concrete is just one of the many ways that the concrete industry can continue to be more sustainable,” said RMC Research & Education Foundation Chairman George Gregory.
The primary findings of the report include:
High-Volume Fly Ash (HVFA) Concrete creates higher temperatures during curing, which results in a stronger early-age concrete. Field cured cylinders underestimated the in-place strengths. Instead, they recommend using time scales to estimate the strength of HVFA concretes.
The complete report can be downloaded from NRMCA's website.
New Home Construction Continue Decline
Construction of new homes in the United States has fallen to the lowest level in 17 years, and shows no signs of improving in the next three quarters. Government data shows the nation to be in the worst housing slump in decades.
New home starts for August had not been finalized, but were expected to come in at an annual rate of 950,000 units. That would be the lowest level since March 1991.
Permits for future groundbreaking, which give a clue to construction plans, are also at their lowest level in more than 17 years.
"Competition from foreclosures should keep builders from increasing construction," said Lehman Brothers in their Housing Monitor. "We expect housing starts to bottom in the beginning of next year. This will continue to reduce inventory, bringing supply back to normal by the end of next year."
The housing crisis has become a topic of national concern, as the excessive rate of foreclosures has pushed nearly half a dozen major financial institutions to the brink of bankruptcy and sent shock waves through the stock market.
"Until we stem the housing correction, until the biggest part of that is behind us and we have more stability in housing prices, we're going to continue to have turmoil in financial markets," U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told reporters at the White House. "I believe that there is a reasonable chance that the biggest part of that housing correction can be behind us in a number of months," Paulson said, adding, "I'm not saying two or three months, but in months as opposed to years."
Quad-Lock Researches Green Roofs Quad-Lock Building Systems has partnered with the Centre for Advancement of Green Roof Technology (CAGRT), a British Columbia research institute, to study the performance of various green roof structures.
Among the data collected with be: the amount and quality of stormwater runoff, thermal performance and energy cost savings, and plant growth and maintenance requirements.
The test structures will be built using Quad-Lock ICFs and Quad-Deck. They are the first concrete test structures at the center. Wendy Davidoff, marketing director at Quad-Lock states, "The Quad-Deck ICF floor and roof forming system can be used to construct the ideal roof substrate for green roofs, combining long span capacity, high loading capacity, and insulation.
According to Maureen Connelly, director of faculty at CAGRT, “Rooftops are the untapped real estate opportunity of the 21st century. Green roofs provide tremendous benefits to the building owner, the local community, and the global community”.
Greenblock Unveils New Corporate Logo Greenblock Worldwide Corp. has revised their logo to emphasize the sustainability and history of their trademark insulated concrete form.
“Greenblock has always been a great name for our company, considering the industry that we’re in,” said Steve Reiter, vice president of marketing for Greenblock. “Our goal for the new logo was two-fold; we wanted a more modern look that further emphasized our ongoing commitment to green, sustainable construction, and we wanted to bring attention to the fact that Greenblock has been in the ICF business for over forty years,” continued Reiter.
Greenblock originated in Europe in 1967 as Argisol, perhaps the first ICF system to ever hit the market. The original design, created by a Swiss engineer, set the standard for the ICF industry with a design that combined two foam panels with ties and a furring strip. Converted to Imperial measurements in the 1980s for the U.S. market, it has undergone a few changes since then to become a versatile, tough, and ease-of-use system.
Today Greenblock markets a complete line of eco-friendly ICFs, including a fixed tie system, a knock-down system, and an ICF designed to replicate the thickness of CMU construction.