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How To Get Your Ex Boyfriend Back – The gargantuan 10,000-square-foot house rising from the slopes of North Rim in Bend looks like an ice chest with windows and doors.

Its walls appear to be built out of stacked blocks of polystyrene foam that fit together like hollow Legos.

It’s not a cool new way to keep lots of beer cold, though. It’s another sign that an energy-efficient, 30-year-old home-building technology is coming into its own as a rival to traditional wood-frame construction.

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ttp://”>Insulating Concrete Form construction, or ICF, uses a combination of plastic foam and concrete to create walls that can shave 25 percent to 50 percent off a building’s heating and cooling bills, according to the national association that promotes it, while insulating the building’s inhabitants from everything from water intrusion to outdoor noise.

The latest entrant into the Central Oregon ICF market, Northwest ICF Solutions, formed in April, joining at least six other Central Oregon companies that build with ICF.

The company is new, but Northwest ICF President Mike Dalzell has been in the ICF business for three decades as it expanded from its humble beginnings as a way to build foundations to a way to build entire structures.

The concept is straightforward.

The plastic foam blocks contain a lattice of reinforcing metal bars. Once the blocks are in place, concrete is poured through the center, forming a reinforced concrete wall surrounded by the foam. Drywall and siding can be attached to plastic strips embedded in the foam blocks, which stay in place permanently.

The blocks also can directly accept stucco, paint and other coverings.

Any leftover pieces of foam can be recycled, said Robert Berman, one of Dalzell’s partners in Northwest ICF Solutions, adding to its environmental friendliness. Along with its energy savings — achieved through the insulating value of the foam and the high thermal mass of the concrete, which resists temperature changes — ICF walls have been shown to block more than two-thirds of the sound that would normally pass through the walls of a wood-frame building, according to the Insulating Concrete Form Association, a national trade association.

Once considered an oddball concept favored by only a few engineers and architects, the building technique has grown at a rate of about 20 percent a year over the past decade as consumers have discovered its energy savings and environmental benefits, according to the ICFA.

Oregon ranks 16th nationally in the number of ICF buildings constructed, Berman said. Some of the more prominent local buildings that have been built with it include the Mill Quarter townhomes and the High Desert Prudential Realty building in Bend, and the Glacier Place building in Redmond.

Northwest ICF, with partners Dalzell, Berman and Monte Burch, formed mainly to distribute the Arxx line of ICFs, which are manufactured in Wilsonville. Dalzell also trains contractors in the building technique’s use.

By David Fisher – The Bulletin


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