How an ICF foundation improves energy efficiency

Our team are big fans of ICF foundation.

Why do we love it so much? One of the biggest reasons is its eco-friendliness. In this blog, we describe how an ICF foundation stacks up against other foundation materials when it comes to energy efficiency.

Is an ICF foundation more energy efficient than its competitors?

The simple answer here is “yes”. Compared to traditional wood construction with a poured concrete foundation, an ICF foundation is significantly more energy efficient.

Why does this matter?

About 20% of the energy lost in a home escapes via the basement. This is due to the large surface area of most basements and the fact that they are located underground.

In the past, basement heat loss was simply accepted as the norm. Now, though, green builders (ourselves included) are changing that assumption. The key to cutting the 20% energy loss in your basement is a more energy efficient foundation. Not only will this type of foundation make your home significantly more eco-friendly, but it will also keep the temperature in your home more consistent. The result is lower heating and cooling costs throughout the year, better comfort throughout the home, and a better-performing home overall.

ICF is one on the top choices for energy efficient foundations in Greater Vancouver. Plus, ICF can be used for a variety of more innovative purposes. No wonder it is quickly becoming one of the most popular building materials in the world!

Before you make up your mind about whether an ICF foundation is right for you though, let us go through the difference it makes…

How energy efficient is an ICF foundation?

It is challenging to compare foundation insulation levels. The best way to get an idea is to look at walls and use that information as a guide. When looking at walls, ICF has about a 60% better R-value than traditional insulated wood wall assemblies. The R-value notes how well a material insulates, preventing heat from flowing in or out of your home.

Why is ICF more energy efficient than more traditional foundations?

The blocks that make up ICF have a unique, interlocking design. This means there is a tighter seal between the blog, preventing heat or cooling from being lost better than with traditional concrete.

An ICF foundation also offers a triple layer of insulation.

On the bottom of your ICF foundation is the bottom of the unit: a piece of thick, insulating foam.

The second layer is concrete, which is laid once your ICF units have been placed in their interlocking pattern.

Finally, there is the top of the ICF unit, which is another layer of foam.

Those three layers offer much more insulation than traditional foundations do.

The other advantages of an ICF foundation

While an ICF foundation is energy efficient, it offers a whole range of other advantages. We want to take a minute to introduce you to these advantages.


ICF’s three layers and interlocking structure make it significantly stronger than traditional foundations. That means it is much less likely to shift or crack over time. Most importantly, ICF protects your home in the event of a natural disaster. If this protection is appealing to you, consider also using ICF in your walls and roof, giving you the greatest disaster protection.

Moisture resistance

Moisture in the basement… Those words alone are enough to send chills up most homeowners’ spines. After all, moisture leads to mould and dampness and all kinds of other awful things. Since ICF is interlocking and so well sealed, an ICF foundation protects against moisture and flooding in your basement. Again, though, to get full protection, you really need ICF walls as well.

Protection against vermin

An ICF sealed basement will not have holes or cracks for vermin to get in through. That means you are much less likely to end up sharing your home with a set of mouse – or, even worse, rat – squatters. We all know how hard it can be to get rid of bugs and rodents once they set up camp in a space. So save yourself the headache by sealing them out in the first place!

A livable basement

With home prices always rising in Vancouver, a secondary suite can be a lifesaver. If you are looking at creating a secondary suite though – or if you just want to make the most of your home’s square footage, it is important to ensure your basement is livable and comfortable. An ICF foundation will allow you to do that. Since it cuts down on heat transfer, an ICF foundation makes sure that your basement is warm and comfortable.

Flexible size and shape

Since an ICF foundation is built out of interlocking units, it can be almost any size or shape. That makes it an ideal choice if you want a unique look to your home. If you do want something different in terms of size or shape, mention this to your contractor right away so you can start planning how to best make it happen!

Easy installation

Compared to traditional foundation, ICF foundation is much easier to install. That is because it is manufacture in foam units that are then interlocked at the build site and filled with concrete. This does not mean you should approach an ICF foundation as DIY though! You will still need a team of professionals to lay the material safely. What an ICF foundation does mean, is that your construction process will be smoother, especially if your new home is being built in a space that is tricky to navigate.


New builds force you to make a lot of difficult decisions about what you want in your home’s look, materials, and functionality. At the end of the day though, your foundation will be one of the most important choices you make. Read to go with an ICF foundation? Get in touch with us today to get a quote for it – and for the rest of your new build!

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