As codes and standards change, it is of utmost importance to constantly find innovative ways to improve the quality and efficiency of homes and buildings. A building is no longer just a combination of forms, blocks and boards; it represents the efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and build responsibly and sustainably. That means providing home owners, architects, builders and contractors with the right building solutions to ensure green and energy efficient construction.
Here we have a look at some of the innovative insulation solutions for your home, by Amvic Building System, from foundation wall systems to exterior wall insulation and hydronic radiant heating systems to enable you to build an energy efficient home that helps in reducing operational and maintenance costs.
Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) soar in popularity as Construction goes Green!
In communities across Canada, people are recycling more, driving less, and conserving water. Millions of people are now passionate about the efficient use of natural resources — and that has affected every activity from transportation to construction.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that buildings in developed countries account for more than 40 percent of overall energy consumption due to the production of building materials, the construction process, operation, and maintenance. Also, for the first time in history, more than half the world’s population lives in urban centers— and these centers are growing at a rapid rate. These two factors combined make it clear that sustainable construction is critical to the future of the planet.
A Net Zero home built with Amvic ICF. View the complete case study.
Consumer demand leads to cost-efficient construction
Many of those involved in the design, construction, and maintenance of commercial and residential buildings are also “going green”. In an industry survey conducted by the Canada Green Building Council in 2014, more than half of Canadian respondents reported that more than 30 percent of their projects were green, and 70 percent expected to be doing green construction within three years. The survey also determined that client demand were the top triggers for increased green building activity in this country. Among home builders and consumers, there is a growing interest in green homes built with insulated concrete forms (ICFs) to support an increased focus on the environment.
ICFs cut costs in the long run
In ICF construction, two faces of an insulated polystyrene foam block are separated by a plastic connector web. Several of these interlocking blocks are stacked together and concrete is poured into the cavity to form a wall. Drywall can then be applied to the inside while traditional exterior finishes including brick, wood, and vinyl siding, stucco, and stone can be applied.
With continuous insulation on both sides of the concrete wall, ICF structures provide dramatic savings in energy consumption and operating costs. In fact, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development compared ICF and wood-frame house constructions and found that ICF wall construction provides a 20 to 25 percent savings in annual heating and cooling costs. Other reports put that number as high as 70 percent. ICF structures provide 75 percent reduction in outside air infiltration, reducing dust and allergens while being five times more quiet than traditional wood-frame homes. Particularly appealing to environmentalists is the fact that buildings with ICF saves at least 10 trees per home.
Finally, ICF structures are better able to withstand severe weather such as hurricanes and floods. Today, ICF homes represent approximately three percent of housing starts in North America— but that number will be dramatically higher in a few years as the rate of growth has increased by about 40 percent year over year.
Local Home Builder Maric Homes has taken their custom home design to the next level. With approximately 138 unique homes and over 30 home builders featured in the 2018 Manitoba Spring Parade of Homes, Maric Homes has enhanced the “Bonavista” home to include design considerations to provide comfort to the homeowner.
(“Bonavista” Photo courtesy of Maric Homes – Bonavista Development Winnipeg, Manitoba)
Owners Peri and Martin Maric chose to build this 3100sq.ft lake lot bungalow home using Amvic’s SilveRboard rigid foam insulation for the foundation and above grade walls. This construction method will give the homeowner a healthier, improved way of living.
SilveRboard insulation is sustainable, durable and innovative providing improved energy efficiency, maximum heating and cooling benefits and better indoor air quality. By using the SilveRboard insulation, this home exceeded the minimum R value required by the Manitoba Building Code achieving a higher thermal resistance.
The Parade Home is also designed to please. With extreme craftsmanship, attention to detail, touches of luxury, and industry-leading design, homeowners can enjoy a fully finished lower level, 2 bedrooms with an office and a double car garage.
The Spring Parade of Homes is open until March 25th Monday through Thursday from 3pm-8pm and weekend from noon to 6pm.
Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) are increasingly becoming the preferred choice of building solution for sustainable and energy efficient structures. While choosing an ICF block, whether it is for a residential or commercial application, it is important to evaluate several critical parameters to ensure high performance and lasting value of your building as not all ICFs are the same.
Here are the top 5 reasons to build with the new and improved Amvic ICF Plus 3.30 Block:
2. Stronger Block – The larger EPS side panels create more rigid walls that are able to stay more straight and plumb. In addition, it allows for 8 inch on center web spacing due to the increased strength of the panel.
3. Ease of Installation – The integrated drainage system eliminates water pooling in the bigger interlock creating a tight and secure connection. Web location marking are more distinguishable allowing for easier fastening.
4. Wider Bearing – The tapered top blocks offer a wider area for structural bearing giving more flexibility in design.
5. Compatibility – Due to the added ¾” of extra EPS thickness per panel, a standard electrical wall box can be used as opposed to a shallow box needed for standard form.
An Installer Testimonial on the Amvic ICF Plus Block:
“Let me start by saying we are seasoned ICF installers and have installed ICF on 90+ structures thus far. Our first project was approximately 16 years ago and over the years we have used ICF from various manufactures. In May of 2014 we were fortunate to get involved with Amvic Building System to install their block on a commercial project using their ICF standard form. At that point in time we were told they were working on a new ICF block called Plus 3.30 and I was excited to try it out and did so in September of 2014.
This project was a large 7000+ sq.ft. house with many corners and a radius wall. After the first pour on job I made up my mind that this was the form, and I would not install anything else. The first thing I noticed was the strength of the form with thicker panels; when pouring the concrete there were virtually no gaps where concrete leaked out. The wall was VERY stable and did not look like “jello”. In my opinion there is no other form like it and it won’t disappoint you if you give a try!”
Living in a comfortable, energy efficient home is important to homeowners looking to enjoy their private space while knowing they find comfort and sustainability without financial strain. Heating your home is most necessary for providing a healthy environment and hydronic in floor heating offers the best solution to providing that well-being.
In floor radiant hydronic heating provides even, quiet, draft-free heat. There are no supply and return registers or convection-reliant radiators, and there is less air leakage around doors and windows. The heat is evenly distributed from the floor level which is where we are allowing the temperatures where people are situated to be heated faster. The other benefit to radiant heat is that it is quiet and operates unnoticeably because it is installed underneath the floor.
(Pic: Hydronic heating for Basement and Entrance using the Ampex Panel)
Conventional forced heat means air is blown through dusty or dirty ducts which can circulate airborne pollutants throughout your home. With radiant heat, it is dust-free and can contribute to healthier indoor air quality which is beneficial to people who suffer from allergies, asthma and other breathing problems.
Ampex Panel for Radiant In-Floor Heating:
The Ampex Insulated Pex Panel by Amvic Building System has been specifically designed to provide easier, faster and the most cost effective installation and performance for Hydronic Radiant in-floor heating systems. The panel consists of expanded polystyrene insulation molded into a high impact polystyrene film. This combination makes for a stronger, more resilient interlocking PEX panel.
The design of the Ampex panel makes for a very durable and simple install on the job site. Because of its strength and stability, plumbers can handle the material with ease eliminating breakage, replacement and additional labour. The film on the panel along with the nubs, allows the PEX tubing to be walked in and locked into place, rather than constant bending to wire-tie or staple the tubing firmly into place cutting labour time and material costs. The size of the panels also increase productivity and precision when placing the panels on the floor. The 2×4 panels become easier to maneuver, easier to place and easier to identify leveling inconsistencies.
Energy and Cost Savings:
Hydronic radiant floor systems save energy and lower fuel bills because radiant heat performs better at lower water temperatures, enabling you to lower the thermostat. Further savings can be realized because running a high-efficiency boiler at lower temperatures will increase its lifespan. In addition, hydronic radiant heat is more efficient than other systems because it uses moderately low water temperatures to heat your home. In effect, the entire floor is a radiator, so it doesn’t have to be as hot as conventional radiators. Boilers can heat water to lower temperatures more efficiently than they can heat water to higher temperatures.
The Ampex panel with its high impact polystyrene film acts as a vapour retardant and provides high energy efficiency. The panel has R values from R10, R12, R14, and R16.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Savers website, radiant heating has a number of advantages over other forms of heat distribution because: “It is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because no energy is lost through ducts.
Because of its energy efficiency and clean draft-free heat, concrete radiant floor heating offers numerous environmental benefits. Here are some of them:
Less energy required to achieve better thermal comfort at a lower thermostat setting
Water has 3,500 times the energy transport capacity of air
Adaptable to various energy-efficient heat sources, such as solar and geothermal
Improved indoor air quality
Radiant systems that use PEX tubing vs. copper pipe expedite hot water delivery and reduce water waste. The walls of PEX tubing provide better insulation than copper
Reduces building materials required for concealing duct work and compensating ceiling heights
Provides more usable area, which allows for smaller spaces without sacrificing livability
In-floor radiant heating can also help contribute to green building points under two recently introduced national programs: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Homes (see A National Certification Program for Green Homes) and the National Association of Home Builders Green Building Program. The Radiant Panel Association worked with NAHB in developing its green home building guidelines, which were released in 2005. The RPA Guidelines for the Installation of Radiant Panel Heating and Snow/Ice Systems is included as a recognized design reference for earning green building points.
Radiant Heating Applications:
Snow and ice melting systems with hydronic heating circulate warm liquid through PEX tubing which is concealed in concrete, asphalt or sand. These systems can be easily installed in residential, commercial or industrial applications such as driveways, sidewalks, stairs, entrances, parking lots, ramps, helipads and much more.
Benefits of snow and ice melt systems are:
Safety: Accidents are reduced or eliminated in common pedestrian areas such as ramps, sidewalks and driveways
Reduced Maintenance: Eliminates the need for shoveling, plowing, salting and sanding. Incurs less damage on driveway, grass, landscaping etc., and less spend on salt/sand and other materials to remove snow
Liability: Eliminates injury occurrence from a slip and fall from an unplowed or unsalted walkway or parking lot
Increased pavement life: No corrosive chemicals or heavy equipment used to shovel or plow areas covered in ice and snow
Comfort and Assurance: No reliance needed from a snow removal company to service their exterior building and provides additional well-being for employees
Some of the design benefits with a radiant floor heating system include the elimination of baseboards and floor vents (which can obstruct furniture placement), the ability to effectively use floor-to-ceiling windows without compromising interior comfort, and smaller ventilation ducting for greater ceiling heights.
Homeowners can choose to have hydronic heating throughout their entire home which can eliminate the need for forced air units and reduce utility bills. Typical common living areas for floor heating include the bathroom, the family room, the garage/driveway, entrances and even the kitchen. Best of all, radiant floor heating is compatible under any type of floor covering — carpet, wood, slate, tile, stone, laminate, and even concrete — making design possibilities endless.
Before taking your basement-finishing project any further, consider that its comfort, efficiency, and longevity all depend on a suitable basement subfloor.
In an effort to carve out more living space, without spending a fortune, countless homeowners take on basement finishing projects each year. Some hire a contractor to handle the job from beginning to end. But others opt to do at least some of the work themselves so they can maximize the return on their remodeling dollar. Whether you call in the pros or do it yourself, finishing the basement typically pays off, if you do it right. In fact, experts estimate that when it’s time to sell, homeowners recoup much more than half the amount they’ve put into a basement finishing project. Still, the more of the project you’re able to DIY, the greater the benefit to your bottom line when you’re finally ready to move on.
To ensure your finished basement stays comfortable and dry, make a point to equip your space with the right subfloor i.e. a product specifically engineered to handle the rigors of a basement application.
If you’re a do-it-yourselfer in search of a DIY solution, AmDry Basement Subfloor is the perfect solution for you. Each panel in the AmDry system consists of three components—oriented strand board (OSB), foam insulation, and moisture-resistant film. The combination of materials not only creates a thermal break between the slab and the living space, but also allows for inevitable slab surface moisture to evaporate or drain away. Refer AmDry brochure.
In the AmDry system, the uppermost layer of OSB looks and behaves no differently than a standard subfloor. But in practice, AmDry goes well beyond serving as a level substrate on which to install the finished floor. For one thing, thanks to its insulation layer, AmDry isolates the cool concrete slab from the basement space, making climate control substantially more efficient and cost effective. In fact, with R-values ranging from R-5 to R-11, AmDry offers the highest insulating capacity of any subfloor product available today. By providing incremental energy savings from one day to the next, AmDry can save homeowners substantial sums over the long term.
That said, the AmDry wouldn’t do much good if it weren’t impervious to moisture. Even if you’re lucky enough to live in a house whose basement never suffers minor foundation or appliance leaks, the space is still subject to the condensation that naturally forms on cool concrete slabs.
That’s why AmDry comes with built-in protection: The underside of its panels features a moisture-, mildew-, and mold-resistant film. Thanks to this film, when moisture builds up beneath the panel, the subfloor doesn’t suffer any damage. As well, the underside of each AmDry panel includes drainage and ventilation channels that let excess moisture drain away or evaporate instead of pooling.
AmDry is appealing not only for its best-in-breed effectiveness, but also because it’s DIY-friendly. In fact, partly due to the generous dimensions of its panel, the AmDry system takes 40 percent less time and labor to install than the competing products. Refer the AmDry Installation Manual here.
AmDry, through its innovative design, ensures that your finished basement will be warm, dry, comfortable, and energy efficient, able to stand the test of time and reward you with a solid resale value after you’ve had many, many years to enjoy your finished space.