The Builder Awards competition is an annual event designed to showcase the innovation, quality, and energy-efficiency of ICF construction, and promote them as a sustainable, durable and attractive building material.


Industry-Wide “Project of the Year” Competition Will be Best Yet

The ICF Builder Awards are back again. The ICF Builder Awards are open to anyone involved with ICFs, without restriction on form type, brand, or number of entries, and is the largest, oldest, and most prestigious ICF competition in existence.

The 2017 contest received dozens of top projects, and over 250 people witnessing the award presentation at an evening reception.  This year’s contest promises to be even better than last year’s highly successful event. To maximize your project’s chances of winning see “Secrets of Winning Entries” below.

Contractors, distributors, and ICF manufacturers are encouraged to submit projects for consideration. Simply download the Entry Form or call the magazine at 877-229-9174 to request a notebook.


Entry Notebook

Competition Rules

Judging Criteria

Complete Rules

Entry Notebooks: Project materials must be submitted with an official 2018 Entry Notebook. It is acceptable for the notebook to refer to additional materials submitted with, but not contained within, the Notebook.

Entry Fees: Cost is $90 (U.S.) for the first Entry Notebook submitted. For each additional notebooks submitted, the fee is $50 (U.S.) each. Entry Notebooks without payment will not be considered.

Deadline: Entry Notebooks must be postmarked no later than Friday, October 13, 2017.

Competition Categories

Projects must use Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs) as the primary construction method for the exterior walls. Awards will be given in the following categories:

Light Commercial: This category encompasses all commercial construction projects with a total project cost of less than $5 million (USD). Typical projects in this category would include car washes, warehouse space, restaurants, gas stations, churches, and small retail and office complexes.

Heavy Commercial: This category is for commercial construction with a total project cost of more than $5 million (USD). This would include most cinema multiplexes, schools, churches, and large office and retail buildings. Apartment complexes and condominiums would fall into the MultiFamily category.

MultiFamily: This category includes all building designed for more than one family, as well as similar construction. This includes duplex, four-plex and larger construction, as well as student dormitories, hotels, condominiums, and so forth.

Small Residential: Single-family residential buildings totaling 3,000 sq. ft. or less of conditioned space.

Large Residential: Single-family residential buildings between 3,001 and 6,000 sq. ft.

Unlimited Residential: Single-family residences larger than 6,000 sq. ft.

Specialty Applications: This category includes all uses that do not fall into one of the above categories. Examples include swimming pools, retaining walls, water features, zoo exhibits, landscaping, and so forth.

We retain the right to reassign a project’s category if specifications show the project is inappropriate for the category in which it is competing.


Projects must be completed (defined as having an occupancy permit, if intended to be habitable) by the entry deadline. The project completion date must be within five years of the entry deadline.

The competition is open to any type or brand of ICF, and projects may be submitted by anyone associated with the project.

Photography Requirements: A minimum of 7 and a maximum of 30 photographs shall be submitted with each entry. At least 4 photos must be of the project under construction, and 3 must be of the finished project, including at least one photo each showing the completed interior and exterior

Photos should illustrate the project’s ability to address each of the judging criteria. Photos should be submitted in digital format, and all photos submitted should be separate, high resolution image files in JPG format. (When photographs are embedded in the Word or PDF Entry Notebook, those images should also be submitted separately as image files.) High-resolution images are 300 dpi or better, and at least 1000 pixels in the smallest dimension. Larger images are accepted and encouraged.

Submission and Deadlines: Completed Notebooks and photographs can be submitted in a number of ways.

Online: Fill out the PDF form then print or save and push “Submit” Photos will need to be either uploaded via FTP or mailed separately.

Email: Download and fill out the MS Word version, save and send the completed notebook and photos to editor@icfmag.com [Individual emails cannot exceed 20 megs]

Upload to FTP Site: Go to www.icfmag.com/upload for instructions
Send via Online File Sharing Site such as Dropbox.

While digital submission is strongly encouraged, entries may be submitted via mail. Mailed entries should include a digital version of all entry materials as well as a completed hard copy of the Entry Notebook. These materials can be mailed to:

ICF Builder Magazine
Attn: ICF Builder Awards
884 E. 700 North
Mapleton, UT 84664

Additional Information: If you have questions or need additional information, email Clark Ricks at editor@icfmag.com.

Judging Critera

  • ICF Use 20% 20%
  • Construction Factors 40% 40%
  • Design Factors 25% 25%
  • Significance 15% 15%

Size (Floor): 5%
Bigger projects are usually more visible, and more difficult. The portion of the score compares the floor area of the project to others in the same category.

Sq. Footage of ICFs: 5%
Even more important than the overall size of the project is the scope of the ICF installation. The portion of the score compares the square footage of ICF walls, both interior and exterior

Percentage ICFs: 10%
Exterior ICF walls will get some points, but projects that use ICFs for interior walls, retaining walls, pools, safe rooms, and other systems will score even higher. The use of foam decking systems for floors or roofing, or underslab insulation, will boost this portion of the score even higher. All ICF aspects of the project, such outbuildings, landscaping, etc. are considered.


Complexity and Creativity: 15%
A project with many angles, wall thicknesses, radius, or other construction considerations scores higher than a simple rectangular footprint. The number of window and door openings and steel embeds would also affect this portion of the score. Creativity refers to how the designer and contractor used ICFs to find innovative solutions to construction challenges, such as bracing modifications or new ways of reinforcing radius walls.

Construction and Site Considerations: 15%
Overcoming construction challenges like tight schedules, tight sites, difficult topography, bad weather, and so forth show the advantages ICFs can bring to the table. Winning over a difficult GC or other sub-trade to ICFs will also boost the score in this category. Finally, the cost per square foot, affordability, and the value the homeowner received for the budget allocated is also considered in this category.

Craftsmanship: 10% This portion of the score evaluates the level of precision and craftsmanship displayed. Attention to detail, straightness of walls, embeds, and bucks; and the absence of voids, honeycombing, bulges, etc. will contribute to a high score.

Architecture: 15%
Winning project illustrate that ICF projects are more than bunkers or simple boxes. The quality of interior and exterior finish, as well as proportions and the neighborhood aesthetic all play a role. Projects that score highly in this area demonstrate an awareness of architectural styles, timeless design principles, current trends, and the owner’s wishes.

Sustainability: 10%
Site use, water use, insulation, heating, alternative energy, recycled content, the efficiency of the various appliances and fixures, and other factors are considered. HERS ratings, LEED certification, EnergyStar, or other green building certification program also play a role.

Significance/Visibility: 15%
This portion of the score ranks a project’s significance to the ICF industry, including whether it has set new standards or advanced the industry in significant ways. This includes factors such as a new benchmark in height or size, opening new regions or construction segments to ICFs, and the amount of positive publicity it has created among construction and design professionals, as well as the public at large. Exceptional media coverage and jobsite tours are obvious factors as well.

Secrets of Winning Entries

The ICF Builder Awards represents the best-of-the best in the industry.  All projects submitted are noteworthy, and getting your project to score highly requires understanding how the judging process works.

Clark Ricks, editor of ICF Builder magazine, has been one of the judges for the past several years, and offers the following tips to maximize your chance of winning:

Every project submitted to the competition is built with ICFs, and the judges are already familiar with ICF technology.  You should explain what makes your entry different from other ICF projects, not how it differs from traditional wood construction.

Make sure the Entry Notebook contains all the relevant information and photographs that judges need to make a decision.  Judges will not give a project “the benefit of the doubt” if a question is left blank.
Special emphasis should be given to the project’s significance, complexity and construction challenges.  Together, these categories make up 50% of the total score.
Note that Sustainability is only 10% of the score.  It is a contributing, but not determining, factor is coming out on top.

Review the judging criteria carefully and evaluate how the project measures up in each area.  It may be helpful to download the judges score sheet and score your own project against past winners in your category.
Don’t overwhelm the judging panel with dozens and dozens of photos.  Select between 7 and 20 photos that illustrate key characteristics of the building.  Be sure to include views of the interior and exterior, as well as views during construction and after completion

Finally, make sure that the information provided is accurate.

Limited Sponsorship Opportunities Available

The ICF Builder Awards are supported, in part, through generous sponsors. As in years past, limited sponsorship opportunities are available.

Sponsors’ logos are featured prominently on all award signage and literature, and are featured prominently at the evening awards presentation.
If your company or organization wants to be a sponsor of the premier ICF award competition, contact Craig Shorts at 877-229-9174 ext. 1.

We continue to use the award in our ads. I certainly would apply again.

Louis Lemoine

Best Residential Development 2005

We never would have received all of this coverage without the award and it has been a source of potential business as well as giving much needed press to the ICF Building industry.

Barry Oberpriller

ICF House of the Year Award for 2009

The People’s Choice award [from the regional Parade of Homes] was such a welcome surprise, but your award has elevated our project to another level!… We sincerely appreciate what your publication has given us and will continue to spread the word with advertising.”

Beverly Stevenart