THE SCORE-ICF Cycle Analysis
Environmental impacts in a life cycle assessments (LCA) are from the production and use of heating energy and cooling. Operating energy tops initial energy within the first 10 years of a building's life. One way to greatly reduce those life cycle cost is to build with insulated concrete forms. MIT researchers looked at the life cycle cost for both residential and commercial buildings and learned that ICF's can deliver strong operating cost savings.
Homes constructed with ICF's benefits from higher R-value and lower thermal bridging that delivered savings for energy and heating, cooling and ventilation compared to conventional wood framed, and CMU construction. ICF's can offer operational energy savings of 20 percent or more compared to code compliant wood frame building in a cold climate.
The energy savings may compensate for the early or beginning carbon emissions of the concrete within a few years of operation phase. Construction and end-of-life disposal representing less than 10 percent of the total emissions.
Research by MIT learned that in the first year added thermal mass in conventional office buildings, due to the concrete construction provided annual energy savings in heating, cooling and ventilation (H-VAC) of 6 percent in Phoenix and 5 percent in Chicago which can accumulate to provide carbon savings throughout the life cycle. Greater opportunities may be apparent to activate the thermal mass of concrete in buildings, such as radiant floor systems and passive technologies which can further reduce H-VAC energy requirements.
Overall the increased use of concrete envelops system and the production of low carbon structural concrete can help lower the life cycle carbon emissions of residential and commercial buildings.