The building foundation is at the core of a safe and secure home environment for our families. As the base of all structures, foundations provide the stability needed to create a solid and healthy environment. Some builders are finding plastic to be extremely helpful in laying a foundation.
Plastics comprise a wide variety of products and design solutions for the building and construction market. Coupled with other building materials, such as concrete, plastics present an array of innovative possibilities—such as Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) and Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs). According to the Insulating Concrete Form Association (ICFA), homes built with SIPs (made with an expanded polystyrene (EPS) or extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam core laminated to sheets of high-strength oriented strand board), can help homeowners save hundreds of dollars each year on energy bills. In fact, because SIPS create a tighter building envelope than conventional insulation, your builder can actually reduce the size of heating and cooling equipment. That reduces costs immediately. Better yet, according to the Structural Insulated Panel Association (SIPA), SIPs keep costs down season after season, year after year, for as long as you own your home. As a result, using SIPs can slash energy costs by up to 50 percent.
But there is more to SIPs than energy savings. The laminated “sandwich” construction of SIPs has provided buildings with great wind and seismic resistance, snow loading, and soundproofing characteristics. By eliminating a large portion of conventional wood framing, SIPs can use “approximately 35 percent less raw lumber in home construction, generating less manufacturing and construction waste,” according to the Structural Insulated Panel Association.
Another area in which plastics are becoming more commonly specified is the growing use of EPS in ICFs. Used in this way, according to ICFA, EPS can help lower energy bills, can decrease noise by as much as two-thirds compared to ordinary frame walls with conventional insulation, and can increase ease of construction and design flexibility (since foam is easy to cut and shape). Building with ICFs also reduces the use of lumber and provides an extremely energy efficient product. According to the Insulating Concrete Form Association, “an ICF wall with four-inches of Type II ASTM C578 polystyrene foam insulation, combined with a five-inch concrete wall, is rated above R-17 at 75-degree mean test temperature. The result is a 25 to 50 percent energy savings over traditional stud-wall or steel-frame homes.
Watch Video on Plastics, Foundations, and Home Energy Efficiency
Jack Armstrong, of BASF’s Global Building Materials, shows how energy efficiency can be enhanced by smart uses of the many varieties of plastic insulations, foundation stabilization, sealants, and much more. Originally given at a press Conference on the Mall in Washington, DC for the Solar Decathlon, the subject matter goes to the heart of Near Zero Energy Homes.