“Sustainable development is… development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of further generations to meet their own needs.”
– World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future, 1987
Amvic ICF easily meets this definition of sustainability and is more sustainable and environmentally friendly than standard masonry or timber frame.
Sustainability decisions must consider the lifetime of a building from construction to use in service to its final demolition and disposal after a long lifetime.
So how is Amvic ICF sustainable?
Minimal Initial Impact
An A+ Green Guide to Specification Rating
The Amvic ICF system has been awarded an A+ by the BRE under its Green Guide to Specification assessment scheme.
To quote the BRE, ‘In the Green Guide, materials and components are assessed in terms of their environmental impacts, within comparable specifications, across their entire life cycles. This accessible and reliable information will help all those involved in the design, construction and management of buildings to reduce the environmental impacts of their properties.’
An A+ demonstrates that the Amvic ICF system is one of the most environmentally friendly and sustainable ways that you can build today.
Concrete, a major element of ICF construction, hasn’t traditionally faired that well in ‘Eco’ terms because of the high amount of energy needed to produce cement. However, recent developments in concrete technology has changed this, for example, a typical structural concrete mix using 50% ground granulated blast-furnace slag as a cement replacement now has embodied CO2 in the order of just 12% of what would have been the original 100% cement figure.
Similarly, expanded polystyrene (EPS), a natural by-product of the petroleum refining process and the other major element of ICF construction, when used for insulation purposes will recoup the CO2 generated during its production within the first week of the building’s operation, simply by reducing occupant heating/cooling demands. EPS is also HCFC and CFC free.
Since the Amvic ICF system has web placement at 150mm centres, many cut-off pieces can be re-used in the build. When combined with the reversibility of the forms, dramatic reductions in site waste are achieved.
By using Amvic over competing products waste reduce is dramatically reduced.
Building Operational Sustainability
Typically 10% of our CO2 emissions come from the construction of our built environment. But a massive 50% comes from actually using our buildings, 27% of which is residential use.
And this is where ICF construction really comes into its own, both in terms of its durability and its energy efficiency, proving that it is a truly sustainable modern method of construction (MMC).
The following points are considered as key aspects to consider when developing sustainable construction:-
- Energy Saving
- Thermal Mass
- Air tightness
- Fire resistance
- Sound Insulation
- Flood resistance
The way in which polystyrene and concrete is combined in ICF construction means this system provides outstanding performance levels for each of these key points.
Amvic ICF provides a high level of standard thermal insulation with a U-Value of 0.215W/m²K. By definition the insulation envelope of the building is absolutely complete when building with Amvic ICF, in contrast to all other building system which require manual site intervention to install the thermal insulation after the structure is built. In addition there is no convection loss of heat within the wall as the insulation is in intimate contact with the structure.
Concrete construction naturally has a high thermal mass, which is the ability of a material to store excess heat energy during the day. This heat energy is then released back into the building at night as it begins to cool. The strength of an ICF construction allows for concrete elements to be used internally throughout, including all floors and internal walls, maximising the thermal mass available.
Current Building Regulations set standards for the air tightness of structures, measured using an Air Permeability Rating. A number of 7 is the required minimum and 2 being required for passive homes.
Because this is a poured concrete method of construction the structure is effectively monolithic, thus air-leakage is reduced to an absolute minimum. Amvic ICF is extremely airtight, with a typical structure achieving an air permeability rating of 2 or less.
These factors combine to produce an extraordinary thermal performance in the finished house. There are numerous testimonials from residents of homes built using Amvic ICF reporting annual heating costs of the order of €100 per thousand ft² of floor area and less, using a variety of heating systems. A house built with Amvic ICF will easily meet the building regulation’s requirements for air-tightness, junction thermal bridging minimization and U-Value needed for an A3 rated home, as standard.
An Amvic ICF structure is built to last. Concrete is inherently durable, and when cast within the Amvic ICF system, it cures without suffering exposure to extreme temperature variances. This results in a far higher strength of set initially, but the insulation provided by the polystyrene also permanently reduces the stress on the concrete caused by thermal expansion and contraction, enhancing its lifetime well beyond standard masonry construction.
Concrete construction is extremely resilient to fire damage. Amvic ICF walls have fire-performance ratings of up to 3 hours. In addition the EPS used in the manufacture of Amvic ICF is flame retardant and both the internal and external finishing systems are certified Class A, inflammable. This means that an Amvic ICF is extremely safe and resilient in the event of a fire.
The mass of the concrete within the Amvic ICF system makes for amazing sound absorption with typical sound reduction of 52 dB across the finished wall.
Neither concrete nor expanded polystyrene rot or suffer from water damage, making ICF construction extremely resilient to flood damage. The monolithic structure is also much better at resisting water ingress.
The physical and chemical constancy of both concrete and EPS in an ICF building means there is practically no maintenance required to the structure at all.
The inherent strength of the solid concrete core makes an Amvic ICF structure safe and secure.
After Use Disposal
Even though an Amvic ICF structure has a very long lifespan, at the end of the building’s lifetime, both the polystyrene and the concrete can be fully recycled, along with the plastic bridges which are already made from 100% recycled plastic.
You may also find the following websites of interest regarding sustainability:-
- The Sustainable Concrete website
- Concrete Centre and Sustainability