Energy-Efficient Homebuilding Process

Dietz Construction uses materials of the finest quality to build homes that are both energy-efficient and health-conscious. We take extra steps when building a home's foundation, floors, walls, trusses and roof... making your home virtually air-tight and saving the homeowner hundreds of dollars per year in energy costs. Below is an explanation of how Dietz Construction LLC uses ICF technology to create ultra efficient structures for their clients.


ICF stands for Insulating Concrete Forms, made of EPS (Expanded Poly Styrene) the styrene beads are expanded with steam and fused together inside molds, the beads are treated with a fire retardant that will not support combustion, the assembled forms with concrete produce an air barrier and vapor barrier shell with no biodegradable organic compounds orVOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) Early proto types were conceived in the 1940's, designers were looking for a solution to insulate the shell of a building primarily in colder climates, early product designs tried to use forms consisting entirely of foam, the system failed due to horizontal pressure exerted by the concrete, in 1960 they introduced plastic web inserts which improved the performance, it wasn’t until the 90's that the systems were perfected. ICF systems are available in post and beam design, flat wall design, tilt up, foam block,knock down block and independent forming panel. The web spacers in the fixed block systems are made of polypropylene plastic where the spacers in the independent panel system uses high density polystyrene.


ICF systems resist the transfer of outdoor ambient temperatures through the shell to the indoor environment due to the insulation value of the EPS and the thermal conductivity of the concrete. One inch of EPS is equivalent to four feet of soil, each form is 2.5 inches for a total of 5 inches of EPS that would equate to 22 feet of soil surrounding your structure,this is like having a cave above ground. When the concrete is sandwiched with EPS insulation it becomes a thermal mass storage sink,the footings are designed to be in contact with ground source temperature, they provide a thermal plate that transfers the ground source heat up the walls and totally maintains the building shell as ground source temperature, creating a thermal buffer around your building. In hot summer days the outdoor heat transfers through the outer layer of insulation and is carried away to the footings, leaving the inside temperature at a comfortable level, you can witness outdoor temperatures in excess of 100 degrees yet maintaining an indoor comfort zone of 78 degrees, on cold winter days the ground source heat is drawn up from the ground and again creating a thermal buffer around the shell, the inside temperature is in a constant balance and comfort zone. Designing structures with thermal dynamic knowledge reduces heating and cooling demands, the occupant comfort level is maintained and the operating cost is substantially reduced. A slab on grade structure with an ICF stem wall can create a thermal sink below the slab that will store indoor energy losses and improve the building efficiency,each year the heating demands are diminished, as the slab and sink below retain the ambient losses.


ICF systems create a vapor barrier, air barrier, insulation, studs and reinforced concrete structure all in one assembly, ready for finishes such as exterior stucco’s, brick or siding and interior plaster, drywall or paneling. The concrete shell of an ICF structure is reinforced with steel rebar, the amount and size of rebar increases the design strength of the wall relative to the designed use. ICF Structures can be assembled for retaining walls, high rise buildings, pools, columns, landscape walls, cantilever decks, flooring systems, for Residential, Commercial, Institutional, Military, and Agricultural applications. ICF buildings are Sound proof, Fire proof, Hurricane proof, Tornado Proof, Earthquake proof, Mold resistant and totally energy efficient. ICF assemblies are a monolithic structure that negate mechanically assembled systems allowing a designer to have a thermal building envelope that is totally air tight and thermal efficient. The ease of rebar placement and speed of assembly of the weather proof ICF system reduces project cost, material cost and the thermal efficiency reduces building operating cost. A typical concrete wall core would require a 3000 psi mix with 3/8 pea gravel, as the ICF wall does not allow the concrete to dehydrate the 28 day curing of the ICF wall is hardened to 6000 psi.


LEED and Green Designing is a growing awareness and bench mark for today’s building market, we are all asked to be accountable for the way we specify products and design buildings and subdivisions. ICF structures help in many ways to contribute to LEED design points, the shell is extremely energy efficient, helping to substantially reduce heating loads and air conditioning loads, the one set up assembly reduces steps and procedures, and use of the innovative design opportunities gain you full points, ICF can be used to reduce the heat island effect for roofs and decks, used as water management storage for cisterns, noise proof shells for back up generators, safe rooms for natural disaster areas, zero material waste, high recycled content, and totally recyclable components made with a steam process not harmful to the environment, there are no biodegradable components, no off gassing, no mold or mildew and an air tight dust free quality environment.ICF efficiency allows larger footprints for less energy cost, and use of zero energy systems such as geothermal, solar and wind.


ICF systems are extremely efficient saving 50% on heating loads and 80% on cooling loads, the EPS material is inert and has a 1000 year plus life reducing the carbon footprint of building. New technology is introducing a way of extracting carbon from carbon dioxide emisions and turning it into a useable aggregate for concrete creating a negative carbon footprint. ICF building materials are weatherproof and inert material that stay straight and true, very easy to form any shape of wall, the building envelope is complete with the use of EPS window and door bucks eliminating thermal transfer and creating an airtight structure that is dust free and energy efficient, an ICF installer and designer can easily solve any construction challenge, the only limitation is their imagination.