Florida homes built with Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms (ICF) protect against severe wind events and are energy-efficient and durable. In Florida, these features are essential due to the hot and humid climate, the frequent hurricanes, and the threat of damage from termites.

Key Elements of Florida Home Design and Construction

Home design and construction in Florida must protect against the tropical and subtropical conditions throughout the entire State. The hot, humid, and rainy conditions make energy-efficiency and moisture control vital components of Florida home design.

Also, the constant threats of tropical storms make wind-resistance a critical element of Florida home design. Energy-efficiency, moisture-, storm- are all essential design elements of a comfortable, cost-saving, healthy, and durable Florida home.

Energy-Efficient New Home Construction in Florida

Building an ICF home in humid, hot, and wet Florida ensures a tight building envelope that is energy-efficient and controls the moisture infiltration and accumulation within the wall system. Moisture-resistance and energy-efficiency are vital components of a Florida home where the average annual relative humidity in the morning is 86.4 percent and an average high temperature in July is above 90°F.

Furthermore, Florida’s wet climate results in an average annual precipitation of between 39.8 and 70.4 inches, which often leads to dangerous flooding. The design of a Florida house should include energy-efficient and durable features. An energy-efficient and durable home is also healthy, and comfortable and will lessen a homeowner’s maintenance, repair, and energy costs.

Disaster-Resistant New Home Construction in Florida

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Between 1995 and 2017, Florida experienced 42 hurricanes, tropical storms, and tropical depressions. Florida has more hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions than any other State in the United States (U.S.). Of concern, because of climate change and coastal development, nationwide damage from hurricanes is expected to increase significantly in the coming decades. Of concern, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts an estimated increase in federal aid for hurricane damage from $28 billion in 2017 to $39 billion by 2075. Notably, the CBO predicts that Florida is the State with the most increase in hurricane damage.

New Home Construction in Florida

Building a home in Florida with insulated concrete forms (ICFs) produces a house that is energy-efficient, and moisture-, wind-. A superb ICF product for home construction in Florida is Fox Blocks ICF. The Fox Blocks ICF wall system is energy-efficient, and moisture-, wind-resistant.

ICF – An Ideal Product for a Florida Home

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Energy-Efficiency

– Energy-efficient Fox Blocks have an R-value of 23 and exceed ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements. Homes constructed with ICF exterior walls use 32 percent less energy to cool and 44 percent less energy to heat than wood-framed houses.

– The high thermal mass of Fox Blocks generates a high-performing, energy-efficient structure. High thermal mass building products absorb and store heat energy, which stabilizes temperature shifts within the house by slowing the rate of heat transfer.

Moisture-Resistance

– Fox Blocks create a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating of less than 1.0. The low perm rating controls moisture intrusion and prevents the growth of mold, which is unhealthy and can degrade the home’s integrity.

Wind-Resistance

– Fox Blocks are wind-resistant: Fox Blocks, with steel reinforced concrete, are disaster-resistant and can resist strong winds exceeding 200 MPH, and projectile debris flying at over 100 MPH.

Termite Resistance

– Fox Blocks are less prone to termites because they lack the organic material termites eat. However, for waterproofing and termite protection, Fox Blocks recommends Polyguard Products, Inc. 650 XTM or 650 XTP membranes.

Additional Features of Fox Blocks ICF

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Fox Blocks are Easy to Install

– Fox Blocks combines five building steps into one, including structure, insulation, air barrier, vapor retarder, and attachment. The all in one wall assembly of Fox Blocks greatly accelerates project delivery time by eliminating the need to coordinate multiple trades.

Fox Blocks are Soundproof

– Sound transmission tests proved that less than a third of sound passes through ICF walls compared to wood- frame walls filled with fiberglass insulation. Fox Blocks achieve a Sound Transmission Classification (ASTM E90) of 4-inch=STC 46, 6- and 8-inch =STC 50+.

Fox Blocks are Non-Toxic

– Fox Blocks contain little to no VOC.

Choose ICF for Your Florida Home

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Fox Blocks ICFs create Florida homes that are energy-efficient, and moisture-, wind-, and pest-resistant. In Florida, these features are essential to protecting a home against the hot and humid climate, termites, and the ever-increasing hurricanes, tornadoes and rain events. Florida homes built with ICF are comfortable, cost-saving, safe, and durable.

Incorporating energy-efficient features into commercial buildings lowers utility bills and increases net income. Energy-efficient features also improve occupancy rates, improve rents, and create comfortable and healthy indoor environmental quality (IEQ).

Importantly, because commercial buildings consume approximately 18 percent of all energy in the United States, energy-efficient commercial buildings reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is vital to combating global warming. Energy-efficient buildings increase profits, have excellent IEQ, and are good for the environment.

1. Energy-Efficient Buildings Require a Whole-Building Approach

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The whole-building approach treats a building as a single energy system in which each part affects the performance of the whole-building. The whole-building approach makes efficient use of electricity, water, and other natural resources. It also aims to minimize waste and mandates that all the building professionals are informed and knowledgeable on every feature that affects the building’s energy use.

2. Continuous Insulation of an Energy-Efficient Building

Continuous insulation (CI) is a crucial design element of an energy-efficient building. CI prevents air leakage (thermal bridging) in a building, which saves money and energy by reducing mechanical ventilation costs and heating and cooling expenses.

3. Thermal Mass Materials of an Energy-Efficient Building

High thermal mass products are an important design element of an energy-efficient building because high thermal mass stabilizes temperature shifts within a structure by slowing the rate of heat transfer. Concrete is an example of a high thermal mass material. Wood is an example of a low thermal mass material and is not a good choice for an energy-efficient building design.

4. Air and Moisture Barrier of an Energy-Efficient Building

An air and moisture barrier is critical to preventing air and moisture infiltration to the interior of an energy-efficient building. Continuous Insulation (CI) and air tightness of a building is crucial to eliminating  thermal bridges. Moisture resistance is vital to stopping the growth of mold, which can significantly degrade the indoor environmental quality and integrity of a building.

5. Fox Blocks ICF Walls for an Energy-Efficient Building

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Fox Blocks are two foam panels filled with concrete and reinforced with steel rebar.

Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms surpass ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements, and create energy-efficient buildings with excellent moisture resistance.

Fox Blocks provide a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating smaller than 1.0, which controls moisture and stops the growth of mold. Also, Fox Blocks provide CI with an R-value of 23+, which create an airtight building envelope with superior performance compared to wood- or steel-frame construction.

6. Site and Room Orientation of an Energy-Efficient Building

Site orientation (passive solar design) of a building is vital for taking advantage of the sun’s energy. Specifically, in the Northern Hemisphere, orienting buildings north-south lessens direct sunlight during the summer (which reduces cooling demands) while increases direct sunlight during the winter (which lessons heating demands).

7. Cool Roofs of an Energy Efficient Building

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A cool roof of an energy-efficient building protects against solar heat gains and keeps the structure and attic space cool. Products used for cool roofs (like tile and slate) have high thermal mass and can have reflective or light colored pigments.

8. The Cooling and Heating System of an Energy-Efficient Building

A building’s cooling and heating system account for 34 percent of a commercial building’s energy use. An energy-efficient building should include high-efficiency heating and cooling systems that use less energy.

9. Waterproof and Insulated Slab Foundation of an Energy-Efficient Building

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Concrete slabs, with a continuous layer of rigid foam insulation under the slab, contribute towards an energy-efficient building design. The high thermal mass of concrete traps radiant energy and keeps the interior of a building comfortable and dry.

10. Energy-Efficient Building Electronics

Computers and office equipment accounts for 8 percent of the energy use in a commercial building. The design of an energy-efficient building must include ENERGY STAR®-labeled office equipment and electronics.

11. Lighting of an Energy-Efficient Building

Lighting represents ten percent of a building’s annual electricity costs. Controls such as timers, photocells, and dimmers can save money and energy. Examples of energy-efficient lighting include compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), light-emitting diodes (LEDs), compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and halogen incandescent.

12.  Energy-Efficient Building Design Includes Smart Building Devices

Including smart building products in the design of an energy-efficient building is a convenient way to save money and energy and make a building safer. Examples of smart building products include occupancy or motion sensors, programmable thermostats, CO2 detectors, and other air quality alarms.

13. Ventilation of an Energy-Efficient Building

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Ventilation of an energy-efficient building is vital because the air-tightness of an energy-efficient building may trap pollutants (like volatile organic compounds, radon, and formaldehyde). An energy-efficient building should include an energy recovery ventilation system. Other useful techniques of ventilation for an energy-efficient building are spot ventilation, such as exhaust fans in the bathrooms and kitchen, and natural ventilation.

14. Glazing Systems of an Energy-Efficient Building

Design of an energy-efficient building must include energy efficient windows, skylights, and doors appropriate to the building’s climate zone. Energy-efficient windows, doors, and skylights provide warmth, light, ventilation, and energy and cost savings.

15. Water Heating of an Energy-Efficient Home

Energy Efficient Building 9Water heating accounts for 7 percent of a commercial building’s energy costs. An energy-efficient building should utilize high-efficiency water heaters like a high-efficiency heat pump water heater or high-efficiency solar water heater.

16. Renewable Energy Sources of an Energy-Efficient Building

The design of an energy-efficient building should aim to create as much energy as it uses by installing renewable energy techniques like wind systems, microdropower, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, or hybrid electric system.

17. Energy-Efficient Refrigeration for an Energy-Efficient Building

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Refrigeration accounts for ten percent of a building’s annual electricity costs

Energy-efficient refrigeration will lessen a building’s energy use.

18. Landscaping an Energy-Efficient Building

The landscaping of an energy-efficient building can save both money and energy. For example, shady landscaping protects a building from direct sunlight during the summer, which saves on cooling bills, and allows more sunlight to enter through windows during the winter, which saves on heating bills.

19. Certifying an Energy-Efficient Building

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The design of an energy-efficient building should aim to meet, if not exceed the requirements of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the Energy Star for sustainability, standards, and the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).

Above and below-grade walls of a building or home can use insulated concrete forms (ICFs) in their construction. Both above and below-grade ICF walls are durable, sound reducing, energy-efficient, and disaster-resistant. However, because of soil conditions, below-grade walls require added waterproofing steps, unlike above-grade walls. In fact, both the 2018 International Residential Code(IRC) R703.1 and the 2018 International Building Code (IBC) 1404.2 require a weather- or water-resistive-barrier on a solid monolithic concrete wall, like Fox Blocks, when placed below-grade.

While both above and below-grade walls can utilize ICF, only below-grade walls require an additional application of a waterproofing membrane.

Waterproofing Below-Grade ICF Walls

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Below-grade ICF walls require a waterproofing membrane and depending on soil conditions a reliable drainage system to reduce the possibility of moisture intrusion from soil and water. Self-adhered or peel-and-stick waterproofing membranes are common below-grade waterproofing systems used for ICF foundation walls. In addition, application of dimple drainage board over the membrane provides protection and hydrostatic pressure relief and is used in many areas and by many contractors.

There are nine steps Fox Blocks recommends for waterproofing below-grade ICF walls.

1. The ICF below-grade wall sits directly on a footing or slab.

2. Follow manufacturer specifications for the application of the self-adhered waterproofing membrane.

3. For some soil conditions it is good practice to encapsulate the entire underside of the slab with a poly vapor barrier.

4. Place or adhere the waterproofing membrane on the ICF wall to create a complete envelope per the manufacturers specifications.

5. Apply the entire below-grade portion of the ICF foundation wall following the waterproofing membrane manufacturer’s instructions.

6. Place the dimple drainage board outboard of the self-adhered waterproofing membrane.

7. Install French drain or weeping system to ensure the final drainage of water away from the wall.

8. Around the drain tile and near the bottom of footing and ICF foundation wall, place gravel fill.

9. Finally, cover the rocks with filter fabric.

Proper installation of a waterproofing system over below-grade ICF walls will create a waterproof wall. The waterproofing system ensures that moisture in the soil adjacent to the wall will filter through the fabric, then down the dimple board and the drain board, and finally into the drain tile. A quality ICF waterproofing system can eliminate Below-grade water issues.

Water-Resistant Above-Grade Fox Block ICF Walls

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Above-grade ICF Walls are Air- and Moisture-Resistant

Above-grade Fox Block ICF walls resist thermal convection and therefore do not need an air and moisture barrier. Thermal convection is the process where heat moves by the flow of liquid or air molecules from the warm to the cooler side of a wall.

For example, above-grade Fox Blocks create a solid continuous monolithic above-grade concrete wall that provides continuous insulation with an R-value of 23. Ultimately, Fox Blocks create an airtight building envelope that limits thermal convection and moisture intrusion through the above-grade walls.  

ICF Walls are Vapor-Resistant

ICF walls act as vapor retardants; therefore, ICF walls do not need vapor barriers. ICF’s have insulation on the exterior and interior of the walls separated by a thermal mass of concrete. The insulation stabilizes the temperature and prevents condensation within the concrete walls. For example, on a humid and hot summer day, when it is cool and dry inside a building, the temperature within the ICF wall system remains uniform and above the dew point, which prevents condensation.

What is Condensation?

Condensation is when water vapor (moisture in the air) changes into liquid water. Condensation occurs when the temperature drops to the dew point. The dew point is the temperature when the air becomes saturated with water vapor. Below the dew point, the vapor turns to liquid water. Furthermore, when the air temperature drops below its dew point through contact with a colder surface (like a wall system) water will condense and accumulate on the surface.

ICF Walls Inhibit Condensation and are Permeable

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An ICF wall system maintains a steady temperature above the dew point; therefore, preventing condensation. Also, ICFs, like Fox Blocks, act as a vapor retarder with a perm rating of less than 1.0. So, even though water vapor can get through the Fox Block foam, the Blocks control moisture accumulation. Stopping the accumulation of moisture is essential to preventing the growth of mold within the wall system. ICF walls resist moisture accumulation because they are permeable and stop condensation.

ICFs are used to construct above and below-grade walls of a building or home. However, only below-grade ICF walls require waterproofing and proper drainage systems. Notability, though, if the designer and owner want a “belts and suspenders insurance” concerning moisture issues, they can apply a spray on WRB that is compatible with EPS foam to the above-grade walls. Please visit Fox Blocks for more information on ICF waterproofing.

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Since the 1960s, builders and architects have increasingly used insulated concrete forms (ICF), like Fox Blocks, for constructing commercial buildings. Notably, a 30+ percent annual growth in ICF commercial construction makes it the most quickly expanding building system in the United States (U.S.) and Canada.

The Benefits of ICF Commercial Buildings

More and more, contractors, architects, and owners of commercial buildings recognize the benefits of ICF construction: energy-efficient, durable, sound reduction, and fire-, and disaster-resistant. Ultimately, many of the advantages of ICF commercial buildings, like those constructed with Fox Blocks, also provide financial benefits to the building owner.

Fox Block ICFs Create Energy-Efficient Commercial Buildings

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Energy-efficiency is particularly vital in commercial buildings because they are responsible for almost 20 percent of total energy use in the United States. Furthermore, in 2012, heating and cooling represented nearly 35 percent of commercial building energy use. Energy-efficient commercial buildings are vital for reducing overall energy use in the U.S. and reducing energy costs for owners of commercial building’s.

Fox Blocks Control Air and Moisture Infiltration

Fox Block ICF construction minimize air and moisture infiltration and ensures an energy-efficient commercial building. Fox Blocks provides continuous insulation which prevents air leakage (thermal bridging) and moisture accumulation within the wall system.

Moisture resistance is key to stopping the rot and the growth of mold and mildew, which can degrade the structure and diminish the indoor environmental quality of a commercial building. Improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings is also critical to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, a known cause of global warming. Fox Block ICFs create energy-efficient and healthy commercial buildings.

– Fox Blocks, with an R-value of 23+, are energy-efficient and exceed ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements.

– The high thermal mass of Fox Blocks contributes towards a high-performing, energy-efficient commercial building. High thermal mass products absorb and store heat energy and help stabilize temperature shifts within the commercial building by reducing the rate of heat transfer.

– Fox Blocks controls moisture intrusion and prohibit the growth of mold, mildew, and rot because the blocks provide a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating of less than 1.0.

Quiet Commercial Buildings

– The Fox Block ICFs wall assembly lessens the transfer of sound between interior walls and from the outside to the inside of a commercial building. Fox Blocks have a Sound Transmission Class (STC)1 rating of STC 45-50+.

Disaster-Resistant Commercial Building

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Fox Block ICFs create disaster-resistant commercial buildings that protect the structure and its occupants against natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and fires. Disaster-resistance (resilient construction) is essential in new commercial construction because of increasing wildfires and more frequent and severe weather events due to global warming.

– Fox Blocks are disaster-resistant: Fox Blocks, with steel reinforced concrete, can resist hurricane and tornado winds exceeding 200 MPH and projectile debris traveling over 100 MPH.

– Fox Blocks are fire-resistant. Fox Blocks have a fire-resistance rating (ASTM E119) of 4-hours for the 6-inch blocks.

The Financial Benefits of ICF Commercial Building Construction

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Commercial building owners can save money with Fox Block ICFs construction during and after the building process.

– Fox Block Series is fast and easy to install, which saves time and money. The Fox Block is an all in one wall assembly. It combines five construction steps into one, including structure, insulation, air barrier, vapor retarder, and attachment. This feature significantly accelerated project delivery by eliminating the need to coordinate multiple trades, while achieving all of the wall systems objectives.

– ICF commercial buildings minimize the need for maintenance and repair because they resist rot and degradation, which further saves a building owner money.

– The durability of an ICF commercial building to stand up to strong wind events can save a building owner the expensive costs of repairing and rebuilding after a severe storm.

– ICF commercial buildings are energy-efficient, which saves building owners money. ICF commercial building typically requires 32 percent less energy to cool and 44 percent less energy to heat than comparable wood-framed commercial buildings.

Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms are an ideal product for ICF commercial construction. Fox Blocks create a commercial building that is energy-efficient, healthy, durable, noise deadening, and moisture-, disaster-, and fire-resistant. Please visit Fox Blocks for more information on the benefits of ICF commercial building construction.

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The first row of a Fox Block insulated concrete form (ICF) foundation sits on the concrete footings. Properly built footings are essential to a building’s strength and durability. The ICF footings are responsible for distributing all the loads from the building to the ground. Appropriate construction of ICF footings is the first step in ensuring a building is structurally strong and durable.

Typically, building footings involve placing concrete into an excavated trench around the parameter of the future structure and reinforcing with rebar. The objective of footings is to support the foundation and prevent settling. Footings are especially crucial in areas with troublesome soils. Placement of footings is essential to provide the proper support for a Fox Block ICF foundation and ultimately the structure.

Insulated Concrete Form Footing Requirements

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Because each construction project is unique, local codes mandate requirements for foundation footings. However, many local code authorities use the 2018 International Building Codes (IBC) and 2018 International Residential Codes (IRC) as the model codes they modify to suit local conditions and legal requirements.

Utilize a Local Structural Engineer for Footing Design

Many factors determine the design of the footings and foundation. Therefore, it is critical to consult with a local structural engineer to specify the load requirements and footing sizing for the location of the project. A qualified structural engineer is familiar with all the components that ensure strong footings:

1. Code Compliance

2. Soil Bearing Capacity and Soil Type

3. Structure Loading

4. Moisture Control

5. Proper Reinforcing

6. Frost Lines

Building Fox Block ICF Foundations Footings

Poured concrete footings support Fox Block ICF foundations. Fox Blocks recommends the following seven steps when building footings for an ICF foundation.

1. Excavate a trench, deeper than the planned basement or crawlspace depth, around the perimeter of the home or building site. The footings support the foundation and prevent settling for the structure.

2. Depending on the footing depth of the footings, wood can be used to form the footing.

3. If the foundation area is prone to water retention, add a drain tile system around the perimeter to keep the foundation dry after completing construction.

4. Place the specified rebar. The vertical rebar dowels will pin the ICF foundation walls to the footing. Space the vertical rebar dowels according to the building code and design requirements.

5. Place concrete directly into the trench and footing formwork. Then, screed and level the concrete.

6. After the concrete cures, remove the wood forms used.

7. Lastly, place gravel around the footings for improved drainage. The footings are ready for installing ICF foundation walls.  

The Benefits of an ICF Foundation

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An ICF foundation ensures a building is structurally sound and that it will effectively transfer all the loads from the structure into the ground. An ICF foundation also anchors a building, which is particularly crucial in areas prone to earthquakes and extreme winds. An Fox Block ICF foundation offers several important benefits.

The insulation qualities of Fox Block ICF foundation walls keep a structure cool in the summer and warm in the winter. ICFs have high thermal mass, provide a continuous air barrier, and have a high R-value.

– ICF foundations contribute to an energy-efficient structure.

– With a waterproofing membrane and a reliable drainage system, ICF foundation walls significantly reduce the possibility of moisture intrusion, and therefore the growth of mold and rot, which is unhealthy and can degrade a foundation.  

– ICF foundations are durable and resist rot, which can minimizes the need for maintenance and repair of a structure.  

– ICF foundations have the structural integrity to protect the building and its occupants from tornadoes, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events.

– ICF foundations are fire-resistant.

Strong and correctly placed footings are essential to a durable and sturdy Fox Block ICF foundation. ICF footings also prevent settling and can protect a building from natural disasters like earthquakes and tornados. Please visit Fox Blocks for more information on the correct footing placement to ensure proper support for a Fox Block ICF foundation.

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