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    December 2010/January 2011

News Roundup

Smartblock Under New Ownership
                Conform Global, manufacturer of the SmartBlock ICF system, is now under new ownership.  In a deal finalized earlier this fall, day-to-day management of the company will be handled by Mike George, a long-time SmartBlock North West Regional Manager and distributor (Insulated Building Materials) with a reputation for outstanding customer service. 
                “Customer service is really what sets our company apart from the other products on the market,” George says.  “Instead of classroom-only training, Smartblock representatives are out on the jobsite with you, showing you how to build as the walls go up.”
                As part of the move, headquarters will shift from Salt Lake City, Utah to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho to continue to be a presence in the Pacific Northwest and to combine office staff.  Jay Bragg, a well known name in the industry will continue on as the National Projects Coordinator.  Manufacturing will continue in Salt Lake City, Utah.
            Smartblock is one of the oldest ICFs on the market, being founded in 1987.  It is a panel system, using plastic connectors to connect the 12”x40” EPS foam panels.  The connectors are available in various widths (4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 inch).  This makes warehousing the block economical and easy to distribute.  The company also markets a screen grid system.  Both systems are ICC-ES certified.
                Under the new ownership, Conform Global qualifies as an American Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB).  Federally funded construction projects receive additional consideration in the bidding process if a SDVOSB is involved.  The designation is expected to help win work associated with the American Recovery and Investment Bill of 2009 as well as FEMA Disaster Recovery projects. 
                The company was previously owned by Ed Bobich, who was quite active in promoting the entire ICF industry.  For several years, he chaired the promotions committee at the ICFA, and worked to professionalize installer training.  Ed will stay involved as a Technical Advisor with ConForm Global.
For more information, visit www.smartblock.com.

ICF Home Survives Wildfire
            Raging wildfires in the mountains of Colorado made national news this summer.  For a few weeks in September, every evening would bring word of new evacuations and more graphic images of firefighters standing helplessly as dozens of homes were consumed by flames.
            But KUSA-TV found one homeowner who stood fast, saving his home and belongings with little more than a garden hose.  The secret of his confidence is that the home was built with insulating concrete forms.  Knowing the Reward ICF walls would not fuel the fire, and that the tile roof was similarly fireproof, Peter Brady and his son made their defense with little more than a shovel and a $6 hose nozzle. 
            “All 360-degrees around his home is completely blackened and charred,” says reporter Aristea Brady.  “Most of his neighbor’s homes didn’t make it.”
            Brady’s did, though, thanks to the ICF walls.  In the news report, he says he would have felt comfortable in a worst-case scenario simply holing up inside. 
            The entire segment can be viewed here http://www.9news.com/video/ default.aspx?bctid=609540860001

Proposed EPS Regulations in California
            In September, the California Department of Toxic Substances (DTSC) released a preliminary draft of a regulation designed to make consumer products less toxic.
            According to Betsy Steiner, executive director of the EPS Molders Association (EPSMA), Expanded polystyrene insulation products such as ICFs would be subject to the new law. 
            The proposed regulation is expected to go into effect January 1, 2011. The DTSC is currently preparing a list of “priority chemicals” from which they will eventually select those to be eliminated from use by the end of 2013.
            The American Chemistry Council, EPSMA, and others are fighting proposed legislation.  “The strategy is to slow movement of the proposed regulation since the Schwarzenegger administration will leave office in January,” Steiner explains. 
            Neither the DTSC nor EPSMA has explained how rigid foam insulation or the byproducts produced by its manufacture can be considered toxic.

BASF Video Channel Features Foam
            BASF, the Germany-based chemical company, has launched a new internet video channel to explain how many of their products work.  Many of the segments are relevant ot the ICF industry.
            Want to learn the difference between regular white EPS and graphite-enhanced Neopor insulation? Find out how EPS is made termite-resistant? Watch EIFS stand up to severe weather testing? Now you can with these videos. To view them, visit www.construction.basf.us.

SCC Pressure Test Results
            Those in the industry using high-slump concrete mixes have often wondered how much additional pressure these mix designs put on formwork when compared to more traditional concrete.  A new study from the RMC Research & Education Foundation may have the answer.
            Titled Evaluation of SCC Formwork Pressure, the project used self-consolidating concrete, a mix design that “flows like chocolate milk” around reinforcing steel.  It’s so runny that when the slump cone is removed, it’s measured “across the pancake” instead of by height.
            The final report describes how mix design, aggregate type, concrete placement factors, formwork geometry, and temperature affect the formwork pressure exerted by SCC.
            “An important aspect of this project was developing practical guidelines for lowering lateral pressure and the creation of a comprehensive report on SCC,” said Jim Repman, chair of the RMCREF.
             The project was conducted by the Université De Sherbrooke, Purdue, Northwestern University and the CTL Group.
            The final report is available as an electronic copy on CD. A comprehensive Executive Summary may be viewed on the Foundation’s website at www.rmc-foundation.org.

LEED Program Seeks Feedback
            The U.S. Green Building Council’s popular LEED Green Building Program is being updated, and developers are seeking feedback from the ICF industry and others on how to improve it.  The public comment period, which will close on December 31, 2010, is part of a continuous improvement process. 
            Scot Horst, senior vice president of USGBC overseeing LEED, says,   “As green building practice evolves, so does LEED, providing innovative solutions to the challenges and opportunities in the building industry.”
            Other sources speculate that this first-ever public comment period is driven by a lawsuit filed against USGBC claiming that LEED-certified buildings are no more energy efficient than conventional structures.
            In any case, Horst says that, this time around, program criteria will place particular weight on building performance.
             To contribute to the dialog on making LEED certification more ICF-friendly, visit the
public comment web pages at www.usgbc.org.

Sustainable Concrete Course Offered by NRMCA
            Earlier this summer, the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) added a new course designed to teach architects, engineers, specifiers and consumers about how sustainable concrete construction truly is.
            Predictably, the class highlights the disaster-resistance and long life-cycle associated with concrete structures.  Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is increasingly being used to evaluate structures and building products for environmental performance. The online course explains how LCA is used to evaluate the environmental performance of concrete structures.  The class covers pavement and hardscapes as well as buildings. 
            This course is runs once per week for four weeks.  For more information, visit www.nrmca.org.

Trade Show Preview
Winter is trade show season, and three of the largest construction-related trade shows are upon us.  Here’s what happened at GreenBuild 2010, as well as a peek at what’s coming at the International Builders Show and World of Concrete.

» Click Here for the Complete Story

2010 ICF Builder Awards
Every year, the very best ICF projects in the world are presented with an ICF Builder Award.
            This year, the ICF Builder Award presentation will be more exciting than ever before.  Attendees are eligible to win an entire crate of quality steel turnbuckle bracing, courtesy of Giraffe Brace, along with other significant door prizes.
            The event will be held in conjunction with World of Concrete, just outside the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center in room N263C.  It will take place on Wednesday, January 19th. 
            "We also recognize the need for a WOC-related event for everyone in the ICF industry,” says Clark Ricks, organizer of the event. “We want to make it convenient, comfortable, and enjoyable for everyone who wants to attend.”

» Click Here for More Information

 Form Comparison Chart and Explanation
The ICF comparison charts below contain updated, comprehensive information on every significant ICF brand in North America.  We’ve also included a comparison of the major ICF decking systems as well as many of the alternative stay-in-place forming methods.

These charts are the best place to start if you want to make an informed choice. Once you’ve made your short list, call the manufacturers, visit their websites, and sit down with the local distributors.

ICF Chart Comparison Charts


2010 Market Report and 2011 ICF Forecast
We’ve been told “the Great Recession” is behind us.  However, sales reports from 2010 and economic indicators for 2011 indicate otherwise.    Industry consolidation, razor-thin margins and changes in distribution chain strategy will affect everyone in the coming months.  And although there are indications that the long-term future of ICFs is rosy, the short-term future looks challenging.

» Click Here for the Complete Story

Are You Vindicated?
             By Cameron Ware
Despite its widespread acceptance, R-Value is not an accurate measure of a wall’s insulation value.  Better calculation methods exist, but the ICF sales team needs to know what they are, why they’re more accurate, and how to calculate them.
» Click Here for the Complete Story

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