We’re deep in the middle of winter weather here in Alberta, even though the season doesn’t officially start until the solstice. Our traditionally downright freezing run between December and February is what makes the use of insulated concrete forms (ICF) so prominent in the province. The rest of the country is taking notice, and in the northern U.S. states ICF is fast becoming the building method of choice.
When it comes to climates that experience extreme winters, insulated concrete forms are a must for all future residential (and commercial) developments. Let’s take a look at why, along with a few key considerations.
What You Need to Know About the Benefits of ICF in Harsh Winter Climates
It’s All About Thermal Mass
The benefits of thermal mass are becoming well known in Alberta. It has the ability to reduce energy consumption during the winter. It maximizes the benefits of solar gain during the cold season, using the thermal mass to absorb gains from sun-facing windows. It also collects the heat produced by cooking, lighting, and appliance use, all of which are often ramped up during the winter. This heat is gradually released through the night as the temperature drops. In turn, it helps keep the building warm, ultimately reducing the need for additional heating. Total ICF supplied panels provide the most useful level of thermal mass, with a tested R-Value of 23.59. Concrete, also inherently having a high thermal mass, is layered between two continuous panels of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, which isolates the concrete. The result, is a very significant reduction in the outward flow of heat through the wall. Occupants stay cozy and warm throughout the winter, without taking on additional heating expenses. In fact, expenditure drops around 50%.
Nudura ICF provides a complete layer of EPS Insulation to both the exterior and the interior of your building. As a result, an ICF structure does not experience thermal bridging found in a stick frame structure where wood components have much higher thermal conductivity. Continuous insulation eliminates cold spots and drafts around the whole building.
Allows Efficient Building in the Winter
Construction is a challenge in the winter. Frozen ground makes traditional concrete pours and other building methods far less viable. While builders prefer to build in the spring and summer months, delays can push project completion well past December, which in turn, can slow the process further. However, when future occupants and other stakeholders depend upon the arrival of a timely completion date, you don’t have a month or week to spare. When building with ICF, you are able to whisk through a winter build much faster. There is no better testament to this fact, than found by referencing this document which details how an elementary school building was erected in the winter.
No Danger of Condensation in the Winter
Condensation is a concern during common winter conditions in Alberta. A state-of-the-art hygrothermic analysis software, known as WUFI, is used to gauge the effectiveness of wall assemblies. This analysis was performed on NUDURA (supplied by Total ICF) products. The analysis found that the dew point on ICF wall assembly consistently occurs at the exterior face of the exterior insulation panel. This means that there is NO danger of condensation in the winter, or anytime of the year for that matter.
Prepare your Alberta build for the winter by contacting Total ICF today. Complete the form found below to learn more.