2024 Large Residential
1st Runner Up

LaLiberte Iconic in Cave Creek, Arizona, is a 5,061-square-foot main house with a 760-square-foot guest casita built using Fox Blocks ICF. The project was the Large Residential 1st Runner Up in the 2024 ICF Builder Awards. ICF installation took only 12 days out of an 84-week total project construction time, and the team estimates they saved 30 days of work time by building with ICFs. The builder of LaLiberte Iconic designed this high-performance, net-zero custom home to showcase the energy savings that are possible even in the Sonoran Desert north of Phoenix. This home is the latest in a series of idea homes produced by Pro Builder. The project was brought to life by and is the personal home of Mark LaLiberte, a building science expert and co-founder and president of Construction Instruction, a consultancy and training facility based in Denver.

Sustainability and Design
“LaLiberte conceived the project to demonstrate a variety of approaches to achieve net-zero energy use, building resiliency, and indoor comfort and health in the harsh climate of the desert,” explains Fox Blocks’s representative, Mike Kennaw. “To do so, he combined and optimized several commercially available materials, products, systems, and practices — including insulated concrete forms (ICFs), structural insulated panels (SIPs), and a ‘plug-and-play’ ducting system — that currently live outside the mainstream of the housing industry.”

Building a net-zero home in the middle of a desert is challenging to begin with, but achieving the high design goals of this project made it even more challenging. For example, roughly 29% of the exterior of the home is glass. It would not have been possible to create this net-zero home in the desert without the insulating factors of ICFs. The home needed a high level of craftsmanship to pull off this modern design with high-end finishes. “Because this is a net-zero home, the roof system was designed as R-50 with SIPs (structural insulated panels),” says Kennaw. “The roof could not have any penetrations to keep the energy efficiency intact. A substantial amount of planning was required to install open web trusses below the SIPs to run wiring, mechanical, and lighting in the ceiling. The mixture of ICF, triple-pane windows, SIPs, and additional energy-efficient elements had to coordinate with the practicality of living in the home and the impressive interior design.”

The primary feature wall, covered in stone veneer, spans the length of the home. A large 800-pound triple-pane, 8-foot wide by 9-foot tall pivoting door connects indoor and outdoor living. A metal awning opens and closes automatically for shade. Despite all the modern amenities, such as multiple fireplaces, a large soaking tub, infinity-edge pool and hot tub, outdoor dining space, outdoor shower, and a built-in grill, the home still achieved net-zero energy use. “Over a year, the total energy bill was zero,” says Kennaw. To maximize energy efficiency, a Fox Blocks Energy Stick added a 2-inch layer of insulation inside the exterior side of the block to increase the exterior ICF walls to over R-31.

Impact and Outcome
The client already knew they wanted to build with ICFs and the contractor already had a strong relationship with Fox Blocks. The client and team also wanted a builder who understood advanced building science concepts. Furthermore, they were searching for a company with a national brand presence to promote the benefits of Net Zero and ICF construction. A Finer Touch Construction (AFT Construction), was selected due to their experience in these areas.

“A net-zero, modern architecture home, constructed with mainly glass is something that has rarely been done in the Phoenix market,” says Kennaw. “It is very rare to find a net-zero home in the desert, especially one with extensive glass. At the time of construction, no one in the region had accomplished a project like this before. The project catapulted the team to have four net-zero builds in the design and construction process.”
This home has set a new bar for what types of construction is possible in Arizona. The homeowner has worked his entire career in construction, so he went into this project with very clear ideas of what he wanted and what he believed would be successful. “This home was the perfect opportunity for the client to use all of his knowledge in his own home,” says Kennaw. “The client is extremely happy with the result of the home, stating ‘It is our forever dream home, perfect for our lifestyle.’”

Project Statistics

Location: Cave Creek, Arizona
Type: Residence
Size: 5,821 sq. ft.
ICF Use: 11,947 sq. ft.
Cost: $3.4 million
Total Construction: 84 weeks
ICF Installation Time: 12 days

Construction Team

Owner/Developer: Mark LaLiberte
General Contractor: A Finer Touch Construction
ICF Installer: ICF Specialists
Form Distributor: Cosan Studio
Architect: Cosan Studio
Other Team Member: Alfonso Nieves
ICF System: Fox Blocks

Fast Facts

  • High-performance, net-zero custom desert home
  • Glass makes up 29% of the home’s exterior
  • Private 760 sq. ft. guest casita
  • High-end amenities include a digital Anthem shower
  • Infinity pool and covered outdoor living area
  • 800-pound triple-pane, 8 x 9’ entry pivot door



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