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Issue 20

January 2009  

Sustainable Building Shell Construction

Quad-Lock will be hosting two, 6-hour training seminars during World of Concrete in Las Vegas, February 5th and 6th, 2009. The seminars will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel.

These seminars will feature construction techniques for:

Insulated, poured-in-place walls
Green roof structures
Multi-story ICF construction
Insulated tilt-up panels
Suspended ICF floors

In addition, Quad-Lock's new R-ETRO insulation system will be introduced and time will be spent building a strategy for your green construction or design business.

Please register for one of these training sessions.

 LEED 2009

Jerry Yudelson, green building guru, Principal of Yudelson Associates and also the Chair of the steering committee for the GreenBuild Conference and Trade Show, recently wrote an update about the first major makeover in the past 5 years for the USGBC's LEED program - LEED 2009. You need to know that all of the current systems disappeared on December 31, 2008...

In essence, Mr. Yudelson says that it's going to be a bit rocky at the beginning. For example, contracts for the required 400-page "Reference Guides" that will help you understand the bare-bones language of the new standards (which are available on the USGBC website) have just been awarded, with a delivery date of Summer 2009. That means it will be hard to know exactly where you stand with a given project, until that time.

In addition, the LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) exam, which tests potential assessors' credentials, is also shut down as of December, for an undetermined period of time, while a new test is created, vetted and rolled out.

The USGBC is transitioning its document review and certification from a handful of contract 'review teams' to ten ISO-type certification oversight organizations, which in turn will accredit individual assessors. The method for becoming an assessor has not yet been set up.

So, if your project was not registered prior to December 31, 2008 be warned that you'll probably need extra budget to handle the transition period and resultant confusion that will likely persist well into 2009.

Introduction to ICFs Webinars

There are lots of people out there who have questions about insulating concrete forms. To aid in demystifying ICF, every two weeks DJ Ketelhut is hosting an online webinar introducing insulating concrete forms.

"The goal of these webinars is really education" says DJ, Quad-Lock's Eastern North America Sales Director. "There is a lot of mis-information out there. Really all we are trying to do is be helpful to people who are interested in this building technology - if it helps sell Quad-Lock, that's great; but the real benefit is boosting the ICF industry."

During these 1-hour presentations, attendees will gain:

A basic understanding of ICF
An understanding of the types of structures you can build with ICF
Knowledge to make a more informed buying decision
Insight into the Quad-Lock difference

Reserve your seat in one of these upcoming webinars.

 New Project Summary

The Kalamath Millshops in Denver, Colorado was a challenging 2-story, multi-use project. Transitioning from a 12" wide 3' tall footing to a 6" wide brick-faced wall that rises 2 stories was easy compared to the orchestration of materials and crews in an incredibly compact site.

Read the summary on this project. If you have any further questions about this project, you can contact John Hatfield, Regional Sales Manager for the Rocky Mountain Region.

Ten Best Green Jobs

Fast Company recently released an article describing the 10 best green jobs for the next decade. No surprise that Energy Efficient Builders came in at number 4! Here's what they said:

Buildings account for up to 48 percent of US energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. LEED, the major green building certification, has over 43,000 accredited professionals. But the cutting edge in efficient buildings goes far beyond LEED. Buildings constructed according to Passivhaus and MINERGIE-P standards in Germany and Switzerland, respectively, use between 75% and 95% less heat energy than a similar building constructed to the latest codes in the US. Greening the US building stock will take not only skilled architects and engineers, but a workforce of retrofitters who can use products to massively improve the R-Value (thermal resistance) of the draftiest old houses. A study by the Apollo Alliance recommended an $89.9 billion investment in financing to create 827,260 jobs in green buildings -- an initiative supported by the Obama stimulus package, which specifically mentions energy retrofits.

January is National Radon Action Month

The EPA has declared January National Radon Action Month.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

Radon comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up into the home through cracks and other holes in the foundation and it can be present in any home.

Unaware of the dangers, many homebuyers skip the radon test. Few know about radon-resistant measures, which can be installed for very little extra money or effort. With those measures already in place, homeowners can test for radon a month or two after they move in, when elevated radon levels would be detectable. If unsafe levels exist, the radon can be easily and inexpensively remediated.

Glen Salas has written an in-depth article: 'What Home Builders Should Know About Radon', which is available on the housingzone website.

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What's So Green About ICFs?

Whether it is from the point of view of design or construction in the field, there is little doubt in any of our minds that green building designs are a part of our future in the building industry. Because they offer so many advantages, insulating concrete forms are increasingly the logical choice for any sustainable building envelope design. But why? What is so green about ICFs?

As long as you are involved with ICFs you will be called on to answer this question, so we would like to bring to you a series of short, easy-to-use explanations to help you educate customers and colleagues. This first article starts with the 'big daddy': energy conservation...

Energy Conservation & Carbon Footprint Reduction

Life Cycle of the Building: When a life cycle analysis is done for a built structure, the sum total of the energy consumed over its entire lifespan, from resource extraction to construction, through the operational lifespan and to the building's eventual decommissioning and disposal is measured. The resulting amount of carbon released into the atmosphere can then be calculated, along with waste destined for landfills. The fact is the operational phase, or that time when the building is occupied, is when it generates the most carbon emissions. Typically, the building's occupants are using huge amounts of energy to heat, cool, light and operate the building (whether commercial or residential). In fact, 90% of the total energy consumed by a building during its life cycle is during this operational phase.

The Short Answer - Conduction & Convection: The key to saving energy and therefore carbon emissions, is to maximize the performance of the building shell. By reducing thermal conduction through shell components and by reducing the amount of uncontrolled air leakage (convection) in and out of the building, you can minimize energy consumption.

Conduction: While second to uncontrolled air leakage, conduction of heat through building shell components has a significant effect on the energy efficiency of every building. This is where heat is physically carried into or out of conditioned spaces by the building components themselves. An example of this is a wood- or metal-framed structure. The wood or metal framing elements that span across the wall section have an R-Value of less than R-7 and provide what is termed a 'thermal bridge'; this transports heat in an undesirable manner. When the surface area of such framing elements is calculated and added to the surface area of window and door openings (R-Values usually less than R-4), it becomes apparent that 30 - 50% of the building shell is below the assumed R-Value of the insulation and is unavailable for insulation. When the overall insulating capacity of the shell is considered, it falls far short in its ability to resist thermal conduction.

An ICF structure, by its very nature, eliminates heat transfer via conduction for two reasons. First, two continuous planes of high R-Value insulation protect the structural component (reinforced concrete) from the effects of the outside environment, hot or cold. Quad-Lock, with its ability to unbalance the insulation to the exterior, offers the best protection from the elements. In laboratory tests of Quad-Lock's R-30 configuration, it took 11 days for opposing sides of the wall to become equal in temperature. According to the testing staff, a framed structure, wood or metal, would take a matter of hours to equalize. The high mass of the concrete takes a large amount of energy to heat or cool the mass and the result is a 'buffering' effect by the concrete against swings in outside temperature. This is commonly known as the 'thermal mass effect'. The insulation that remains in place from ICFs further reduces the amount of energy available to raise or lower the temperature of the concrete structure, particularly when thicker insulation is placed on the outside of the building.

Convection: Experts agree that the greatest enemy of building energy efficiency is the uncontrolled flow of air into, or out of, conditioned spaces. Blower-door testing shows older framed structures to be leaky enough to allow a complete change of interior air between 12 and 14 times per hour (air changes per hour - ACH). Even newer 'code-built' structures will leak air at a rate of 3 - 4 ACH. ICF buildings by comparison, show air leakage rates of 0.5 - 1.5 ACH in identical testing. Again, by their very nature, ICF buildings control air leakage because of the density of the concrete which is placed in liquid form and later becomes a solid. Therefore, no spaces remain in the wall to permit air flow when concrete is properly placed and consolidated.

ICF Energy Saving Components vs Wood-Frame*

Most air leakage in ICF buildings is detected around window and door openings and at the junction of walls and roofs. Sealing measures are easy to implement in these locations. A recent test in Canada, established that air leakage assumptions in buildings with ICF walls could be reduced by over 60% when calculating the required heating and air handling equipment. Lower rates of uncontrolled air leakage will reduce the size and cost of equipment at the time of installation and dramatically reduce the building's appetite for energy during operation.

There it is, the secret to ICFs revealed! Whether a client is just trying to lower his or her heating/cooling bills, or whether an architect is designing to a LEED standard in a public building, ICFs offer real and immediate solutions to the problem of constructing an energy efficient building shell. Because energy usage has such an enormous impact on the environment, energy efficiency is the main area of focus of every sustainable building program.

* Source: Portland Cement Association Technology Briefs

Next Issue: Find out the impact ICFs and concrete can have on how much material it takes to build a structure and how that plays into green building standards.

2009 Trade Show Season

Happy New Year to everyone! It is amazing to see how fast a year can go by and I am sure many of you are happy to put 2008 in the past and focus on a new start for 2009. If you have been in the building business for any amount of time, the New Year ushers in the season of builder shows aimed at contractors, residential and commercial builders, developers and more.

We are excited to be involved in trade shows on a local level where we support our distribution partners, as well as international and national shows where we take the lead in exhibiting. These events are a great opportunity to meet people, conduct research, compare technologies and see what's new in the marketplace.

Are you in the group of people who have never attended a building-related show? Well, I must say you are missing out. Trade shows offer attendees a chance to engage building material suppliers in a non-threatening environment. Many of the shows are large, so we strongly suggest that you map out who you want to visit to ensure that you see all the products and technologies that are important to you. I trust a visit to the Quad-Lock booth will be at the top of the list though!

If you want to learn more about Quad-Lock and the benefits ICFs can provide, I encourage you to visit us at one of the shows listed below - or check out our website too as this list will be updated as we continue to confirm our trade show schedule.

This year, you will get an opportunity to see some of our impressive displays showing various details for both commercial and residential construction. Our professional staff will be ready to answer your questions regarding your project and you will be able to see all of our products displayed including Quad-Lock, Quad-Deck and R-ETRO. And, I am excited to announce that our booth has undergone a major makeover - it will be worth the visit. We look forward to seeing you at the shows, you will not be disappointed!

DJ Ketelhut
Sales Director, Eastern North America

If you can't make it to one of these events, be sure to sign up for one of our webinars. Information on these can be found on the sidebar.

Occupational Safety

As ICF becomes a more prevalent building system, North American dealers and installers of Quad-Lock ICF need to extend their knowledge of building techniques to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In order to prepare for the upcoming inspection and enforcement by OSHA, this and future articles will discuss various compliance issues facing the ICF industry.

Safety By The Numbers...

The impetus for recent safety articles has been OSHA safety reviews and OSHA publications relating on-the-job injury statistics. According to OSHA's data gathered between October 2007 and September 2008, there are many areas of exposure that could easily affect ICF installers. The top five safety issues on construction jobsites are:

1) Scaffolding Citations - 7,428 violations were found on 2,892 construction sites (that is 2.57 violations per jobsite!) with combined fines totaling $7,164,733, or an average of $964 per violation. Ouch!

2) Fall Protection Citations - 4,729 violations on 4,364 sites, totaling $6,889,189 in fines at an average of $1,456 each.

3) Ladder Citations - 1,541 sites were found to have 2,046 violations. Fines averaging $616 each totaled $1,260,456.

4) Fall Protection Training - 1,638 violations on 1,557 sites produced $566 average fines, totaling $928,505.

5) Manually Moved Ladders & Scaffolds - 1,587 violations and fines of $1,390,818.

By far, the number one violation cited is scaffolding, but the number one inspection item covers fall protection equipment and training. In other words, OSHA inspectors look for fall protection equipment and fall protection training more often than any other safety issue.

All five major violation areas could easily be present at ICF jobsites if care is not taken to consistently evaluate compliance with OSHA regulations. The sizable financial impact of violation fines obviously affects the economic health of the contractor, as would the high likelihood of injury to his employees if such violations are left uncorrected. Whether or not OSHA inspectors actually come onto your jobsite, the potential for financial and physical damages is significant when safety issues are neglected.

OSHA estimates that only about 50% of jobsite accidents get reported to the local authority and less than 10% are reported as lost work accidents. OSHA's data shows the next five categories in the "Top 10 List" of violations cover general safety, hazard communication or signage, head protection, training on ladders and scaffolds and electrical wiring. Obviously, all of these areas could also easily pertain to ICF jobsites.

So, what's the bottom-line on OSHA violations? According to their own statistics, when OSHA comes knocking, you'll probably get cited with three violations, each one costing over $880 or a total of $2,650. That $2,650 comes right of the PROFIT in your construction project budget! The 'bonus' to being cited is that your jobsite is likely to be re-inspected on a more regular basis for quite some time, raising the probability that additional fines will be levied. The lesson here is "handle safety issues BEFORE they become safety problems"!

So, as Red Green would say, "If the inspector doesn't find you handsome, he'll at least find you... SAFE!" Don't get hurt out there!

Future ideas on tool safety, ladders and scaffold placement, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and concrete placement will follow in upcoming months. If you have any topics that you would like to see covered, please contact us.

We Need Your Help...

Proven Energy Efficiencies

As part of our on-going development of materials to assist in the sale of Quad-Lock, we want to create a library of statistics about structures built with Quad-Lock Insulating Concrete Forms. You can help us by submitting your energy bills, along with the bills from a comparable house in your neighborhood for us to add to our library. When you do this Quad-Lock will pay your highest month's energy bill for your troubles.

Contact us for more information.

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Best regards,
Quad-Lock Building Systems

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