Big Retail Opts for ICF Buildings

The benefits of using Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) are legion and ICF buildings are gaining purchase in the niche box retail store construction market. Traditionally constructing their stores using tilt-up walls, the box retail market is increasingly adopting ICFs as their building material of choice thanks to its durability, noise reducing properties and energy-saving attributes.

Its popularity is understandable; the ICFs reduce waste and construction time while improving insulation and the appearance of buildings. More and more large American chains like Walgreens, Ace Hardware, and Aaron’s Rentals are discovering that building with ICFs gives them a better, stronger building in less time. Let’s not forget that ICF buildings are cost effective, sustainable and environmentally friendly too. This positive environmental impact has growing cache in the retail industry as larger companies strive to attract customers through their efforts to be greener.

Cleaner and Greener

The combined insulating power of expanded polystyrene and concrete thermal mass means that an ICF building provides an excellent building envelope which reduces heating and cooling costs. This combination of materials reduces temperature fluctuations and translates to a 30-50% reduction in energy consumption. Since global warming is a direct result of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and buildings are responsible for 20% of these emissions, building with ICFs reduces GHG emissions and the effects of global warming.

ICFs contain none of the toxins (like formaldehyde, CFCs and HCFCs) of traditional building materials and so there is no off-gassing that’s detrimental to your indoor air quality.

With as little as 1% construction waste, the ICF construction site is one of the greenest in the business. Some ICFs, like those manufactured by Amvic, use 100% post-industrial recycled polypropylene so 60% of the weight of the block is made from recycled materials.

The LEED certification is an increasingly coveted achievement by retail businesses and building with ICFs can add as much as 20 points to a building’s LEED score.

Financial savings

When it comes to building big retail outlets, time really is money and the sooner a building is completed, the sooner investors can start to see a return on their investment. ICF walls are easy to construct and, with less taping, tying and gluing, the walls are up in no time at all. The reduced construction time of ICF buildings make them a very attractive option for large retail outlets. ICF buildings also last longer which means fewer maintenance costs for retailers.

Buildings constructed with ICFs meet the requirements under the United States Energy Policy Act of 2005 and quality building owners for a tax credit of up to $500.

The thicker ICF walls result in improved sound reduction; up to 30% of outdoor noise is blocked and this makes it possible to build stores in locations that would otherwise be unsuitable like near road or airports. This reduces the cost of land for the building owner.


ICF buildings are incredibly strong and can resist winds and flooding much better than most other buildings. They are also safe from fire hazards and have a fire rating of 3 hours. The lack of organic materials mean that there is a reduced risk of mold or insects. This improves the indoor air quality and makes the store safer for workers and customers. With no toxins and improved insulation, which keeps out dust and pollens, indoor air quality is vastly improved.

Troy Gibson, marketing manager at Reward, as this to say about building with ICFs; “You can build in a shorter time with smaller crews, [and] the result will be a sustainable building that is energy efficient, durable and requires little maintenance. The virtually soundproof walls allow you to build anywhere, and the strength and safety of steel-reinforced concrete will keep employees and inventory safe from fire and storms.”


ICF Construction

Related Articles

Amvic Building System