Insulating Concrete Form Construction, also called ICF, has proven itself as a high-performance wall system, offering economic and environmental benefits. With rising building costs across the US, many hotel owners are exploring the use of ICF for upcoming projects. As Base4 is currently designing several ICF hotels, I take this opportunity to explore potential ICF possibilities.
The ICF system employs hollow foam blocks made of rigid thermal insulation. These blocks are stacked to make the exterior walls of a hotel. The hollow insulated cavities are filled with rebar and concrete, which then become part of the permanent walls of the building. See below images.
Generally, ICF is more expensive than traditional methods, at about $7/sf – $10/sf more than wood frame walls; however, this number varies greatly per geographical location and current labor prices.
Benefits of ICF:
- Extended Build Periods – ICF walls can be built in the winter at lower temperatures without the need for insulating blankets or a heating source.
- Shortened Construction Schedules – ICF blocks are lightweight and require less labor. Compared to CMU, ICF walls can reduce construction schedules by 4-6 weeks.
- Reduced Energy Costs – Due to its insulating properties, ICF can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs.
- Increased Trade Flexibility – Inserting new utilities is as easy as cutting channels or grooves directly into the foam using an electric hot knife. Openings can also be cut into the wall to accommodate any required rough-ins.
- Improved Sound Control – ICF maintains a high STC rating without the need for additional soundproofing drywall layers.
If you have any questions about ICF or would like to discuss if it might be right for your next hotel project, please don’t hesitate to reach out.