image: edited from NUDURA ICF
We haven’t been shy in heralding insulated concrete forms as the energy-efficient building method of choice for homes in Alberta. We’ve posted numerous articles on how ICF applies to everything from LEED certification to Net Zero properties. But after a season of news updates and award wins for NUDURA we thought that the arrival of spring 2018 marks as good a time as any for a refresher on the benefits of ICF for green building.
Why Insulated Concrete Forms Are Essential to Your (and Alberta’s) Green Building Goals in 2018
ICF Meets the Needs of the Alberta Energy Code Update
By now you are familiar with the Alberta Building Code update which came into force back in November of 2016. The intent of the update was/is to improve energy efficiency standards for housing construction codes so that they support Alberta’s overall Climate Change Strategy. This strategy recognizes energy efficiency and conservation as one of the primary approaches to eradicating greenhouse emissions and reducing the demand on the province’s energy resources.
While lighting, HVAC, and service water heating are all components of the updated Energy Codes, the primary is the building envelope – the separation between the interior and the exterior environments of a home, comprising of its exterior walls, roof, foundation and slab-on-ground. When it comes to building a more energy efficient envelope, ICF is it. Insulated concrete forms not only provide one of the most comprehensive forms of insulation on the market, they also act as a thermal mass. This thermal mass absorbs solar heat throughout the day and radiates it right back into the home at night. During warmer spring/summer months, ICFs provide a tighter building envelope, which effectively keeps warmer air out and cooler air in. In the past, conservative estimates noted that ICF boasted a monthly energy savings of approximately 30%. However, a recently commissioned CLEB Laboratories study found that the tested ICF wall assembly generated up to 60% energy savings compared to a traditional insulated wood frame cavity wall.
If you intend on keeping up to Alberta’s Energy Code update, and the anticipated ones to come as federal, provincial, and municipal bodies continue to strive for greener pastures, you will want to make ICF a big part of the way you build homes in Alberta.
Alberta’s Carbon Levy and Rebates
The federal government let it be known to Canadian provinces and territories that they must have an emission reduction plan in place by 2018 or Ottawa would impose a federal carbon tax. Alberta responded in kind, with a plan that would encourage Albertans to reduce carbon pollution from their homes. This plan (in part) came in the form of a carbon levy, charged on heating fuels that emit greenhouse gas emissions when burned. The levy provides a quantifiable financial incentive for households and residential communities to adopt more energy efficient practices which includes moving away from higher-emission energy resources. Below, we have provided a snapshot of what households can expect under the 2018 levy/rebate plan:
Gasoline for transportation use is of course outside of the scope of this conversation, but when it comes to fuels used to heat the home, you can see where ICF construction will become important to all future residential developments in the province.
Energy Efficiency Alberta’s Home Improvement Rebate program offers residents performance-based rebates. Simply put, the more energy a home-improvement project saves, the more money the homeowner gets back in rebates. One of the most energy efficient and long-lasting retrofits a homeowner can have done is to install an ICF wall system, which is completely viable if redoing a basement or a wing of the house (and for new additions). The cost of retrofitting an entire basement or other area within the home in ICF will pay for itself both in the long run with lower monthly utility costs, and with a potential rebate from the province itself.
Energy Efficiency Alberta is asking homeowners to find contractors who will help them meet their energy efficiency goals. Will you become one of them by adopting insulated concrete forms into your fold? If so, contact Total ICF today to learn more.