How ICF is Being Used to Rebuild Homes and Communities

With global weather being the wonkiest it has ever been, you can no longer turn on the news without hearing about how some natural disaster has destroyed homes and displaced households and entire communities. This trend is not isolated to lesser developed nations or those located smack dab in the middle of Hurricane Alley and the like. It’s hitting populations across the U.S. and Canada, including right here in Alberta, where tornados, wildfires, and flash flooding remain on our provincial periphery year after year.

It’s no secret that homes built from insulated concrete forms (ICF) are more resilient to natural disasters, and some may say our industry thrives on this fact. However, there’s nothing that architects, builders, city planners, developers, and prospective homeowners like better than current events that put the proof in the pudding. Real life applications that are happening today inspire confidence that a building method is one you’ll be happy with tomorrow. Right at this very moment, there are communities being reborn after having been ravished by a natural disaster, and one common theme runs through each – the application of ICF in the rebuild.

So these tales do not remain in vain, Total ICF is sharing a few true stories from around “anytown” America that prove ICF is the solution for architects, builders, and homeowners who face the never-ending battle with Mother Nature and her many minions.

Real (and Current) Examples of How Insulated Concrete Forms Are Being Applied to Rebuild Communities and Houses Ravished by Weather Related Events

Rebuilding Wine Country

Back in October 2017, Santa Rosa Sonoma County (California) wine country fires made international news, with the hardest hit community, Fountaingrove, receiving the brunt of the devastation as the wildfires destroyed a total of 1,519 homes. Fast forward to July/August of 2018, and the area is on the mend, but with great change afoot, change that answers questions about the city’s past infrastructure that has led to high rebuilding costs and wide gaps in insurance coverage.

Fountaingrove property owners and developers are now building with future hazards in mind, with forward thinkers choosing to reconstruct with fire-resistant building techniques and materials. New homes are being built with insulated concrete forms, leaving antiquated methods (wood frame) in the ashes of the past.

One of the biggest challenges reported by the architect of one rebuilding property owner, Anu Shah, was educating city planning officials who didn’t have a lot of experience with approving plans for ICF homes:

“It took quite a bit of effort to get those 70 questions answered. But city staff eventually approved Shah’s building permit, and his homeowners association approved the design as well.” (The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, CA)

The above example is key in describing the state of affairs of the ICF industry in home and community construction. It has been proven that ICF is superior for building more energy efficient and natural disaster resilient homes, so all that is left is to educate architects, builders, city planners, developers and homeowners. With that out of the way, the path will be cleared and the call to action will be made – wood frame home construction will be replaced with a building method that will make our communities safer places to live. Hopefully it won’t take many more stories such as these for that to happen.

Rebuilding a Place of Community Gathering

Over a year ago, a heavy snow storm and subsequent snow accumulation collapsed the roof of an old gymnasium at Highland Magnet at Kenwood School in Bend Oregon. Thankfully, no students or faculty were in the facility at the time of the weather-borne destruction but the city of Bend felt the impact, as a neighborhood icon and beloved place of community gathering and learning was lost. However, as we approach the new school year, a new gymnasium is near completion. While the 11,561 square foot space is intentionally a near exact replica of its predecessor, there is one very big difference that is giving the community complete peace of mind – it has been constructed with insulated concrete forms.

Even though construction is not yet complete, the energy efficient benefits of ICF are already being realized:

“Throughout construction the building hasn’t fluctuated more than about 5 degrees. With just two large ceiling fans replacing an air conditioner, the building felt cool despite the hot summer sun.” (The Bulletin, Bend OR)

Once again we see an example of how ICF is being applied by a community to hedge the risk that comes from living in a region marked by the threats of extreme weather, while creating a more comfortable and energy efficient environment in the process.


The time has come for all residential districts to adopt ICF into their fold. As a builder in Alberta, it is not only a smart business decision, but a responsibility to provide your local community with an alternative that will keep it protected from the elements. Contact Total ICF to learn more about insulated concrete form construction and how we can supply you with everything you need to boast status as one of the province’s top ICF builders.