Green Building: Wine Cellars

Why ICFs are something to wine about

If you store your wines in the kitchen cupboard or under the stairs, your full bodied reds will be wilting in the summer heat. Temperature control is key to preserving the integrity of your wine. Use environmentally friendly green building technology to create the ultimate wine cellar that will be cheap to build and cost almost nothing to run.

Whether you are converting part of your basement, or building yourself a new cellar, ICFs provide the most stable and cost effective alternative for an above ground or underground cellar. ICFs reduce build time and require less skilled labour which reduces construction costs. ICFs provide insulation with an expanded polystyrene (EPS) exterior and thermal mass with a concrete core. The ICF blocks fit together like building blocks and the concrete is poured into the steel reinforced center. This means that the walls have no vacant spots where rodents can enjoy the bounty of your cheese and wine socials.

Oh… the humidity!

Temperature control is essential for the proper aging of wine. The ideal temperature range is between 55-58 degrees Fahrenheit with 55 to 75 percent humidity. Consistency in temperature is paramount. Wine cellar walls should have a minimum insulation rating of R-19. Using a quality ICF block with EPS insulation will guarantee an R-20 rating. ICFs reduce hot and cold spots and drafts while ensuring a healthy internal environment. Temperature is important for the natural aging process of the wine to occur. Keeping your temperatures constant will prevent your wine from aging too quickly and will leave you with a symphony of delightful notes in your favourite merlot. However, no amount of temperature control can save your wine if the cellar is too dry. A high level of humidity is necessary to preserve cork integrity. Low humidity will cause your corks to dry and contract, leaving small spaces between the bottle and the cork where air can get in. Once air gets in, you will have a magnificent vinegar collection where your wine once was. The right humidity levels keep your corks plump and moist and ensure a proper seal.

Traditionally, high humidity levels would mean that when cold air and hot air on either side of the wall met, condensation would occur and mould would flourish. The added insulation that ICFs provide prevents condensation and mould.

Green your reds and whites

Using ICFs for your wine cellar will reduce your energy consumption by 30 to 50 percent. If you buy Amvic ICFs, 60 percent of the materials used in the manufacture of the ICFs are recycled. Reduced waste and building time means your ICF construction site will have a lower carbon footprint than other construction methods.

You can further offset the carbon footprint of your cellar by installing a solar system to provide your cellar with all the energy it needs.

Ensure that your ceiling and floor are also well insulated. Many ICF manufacturers also provide flooring and roofing options. Ensure that you are not losing valuable heating or cooling through the floor or ceiling.

The same can be said of doors and windows. A large range of cellar doors provide excellent sealing and insulation values.

Too much light can create fluctuations in temperature and is not good for your wine. Reduce consumption by using energy efficient track lighting, sconces or recessed lighting. There should be enough light to read a label by, but not so much as to negatively affect your wines.

It’s sedimentary my dear Watson

Constant vibration caused by noise or heavy machinery disturbs the sediment in wine bottles. Disturbed sediment expedites chemical reactions, but not in a good way. Wines should not be vibrated, turned or shaken. Place your wine in a dark, cool place and leave it alone until you are ready to enjoy it. ICFs are able to reduce noise by up to 30 percent. While it’s still not advisable to build your cellar near a subway line, rest assured that ICFs will reduce sediment disturbing vibrations from noise pollution.

An ICF cellar is not only cost efficient and good for your wines, it will also give you an opportunity to experience the benefits of ICFs. Come rain, hail, earthquakes, tornadoes and zombie apocalypse, you can ride it out in your cellar, content in the knowledge that you and your wine collection are safe as houses.

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