ECO-Block ICFs play

09 January 2013

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. – ECO-Block, LLC, is helping to raise the roofs in Madera, a “green” community expected to set new and higher standards for resource efficiency. ECO-Block, the nation’s second-leading provider of insulating concrete forms (ICFs), stepped up to provide its environmentally friendly product in the construction of Madera’s model center and in many of the 88 homes planned for this residential area.

Situated on a fully wooded 44-acre site adjacent to the University of Florida in Gainesville, Madera was designed, constructed and developed by Greentrust LLC, working in partnership with the university’s Florida Energy Extension Service. The long-term goals of this pioneering effort include both ecological stewardship and environmental education.

The homes are designed as exemplars of green, cost-effective construction practices. All of Madera’s homes are constructed to exceed conventional performance standards in Florida. Upgrade packages offered to homeowners can further boost their homes’ performance in energy and water efficiency plus termite resistance.

“The use of ECO-Block ICFs is a natural fit for Madera,” said Vera Novak, ECO-Block environmental specialist. “Not only does ECO-Block save trees during the construction phases, its superior insulation abilities continue to offer dividends year after year. Homeowners can save up to 50% annually while keeping their homes warm in winter and cool in summer.”

Constructing a home with ICFs has multiple advantages to both the homeowner and the environment as it consistently saves in time, money and energy resources. A study backed by the Portland Cement Association found that homes built with ICF exterior walls need an estimated 44% less energy to heat and 32% less energy to cool than their wood-frame counterparts. An average-size home can save up to 41 trees if concrete products-such as ICF exterior walls-are used in place of wood products.

In addition, concrete is inert, non-toxic and produced from abundant natural and recycled materials. The cost of a concrete home is comparable to one built with wood. Experienced crews report that building ICF homes can take less time than using wood-frame construction. Several steps are eliminated-such as sheathing and insulating the exterior walls-that are necessary with wood-frame construction. The use of concrete also helps ensure durability.

“We support the use of sound designs, products and construction technologies to build high-quality, durable homes that have low maintenance requirements and use energy and water efficiently,” said Dr. Pierce Jones, who directs the Florida Energy Extension Service at the University of Florida. “Madera is a great opportunity to work with builders and product manufacturers to put these ideas into action. And the result… homebuyers in Madera can expect their homes to be environmentally friendly and to have significantly lower utility bills.”

Owning a green home has never been easier. An advantageous mortgage package has been developed specifically for Madera. It is based on Fannie Mae’s Energy Efficient Mortgage program. First, it recognizes the use of performance-enhancing features by treating the reduced operating costs as income to potential homebuyers. Second, rebates offered by product manufacturers can be directly applied to meet down-payment requirements. Third, the mortgage offers 100% financing on the supplemental costs of efficiency upgrades.

Infrastructure construction in the Madera community began in March 2002 with home construction starting in 2003. In addition to the model center, plans call for approximately15 homes to be built there this year.