Due to the significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions that come with the production of Portland cement, Ecohome has long promoted alternatives to concrete whenever possible to help reduce climate change causing emissions. A simple example of that would be our preference to choosing a slab on grade instead of a basement foundation as they have much less concrete and allow for more sustainable materials to be used in above grade wall assemblies.

There are however, cases where full-home ICF (insulated concrete forms) blocks do make sense even to us. Two such cases for using ICF would be areas prone to tornados like Oklahoma or Kansas, as well as those at high risk of wildfires, as seen recently in California. If choosing to build with concrete, we do suggest seeking out reduced carbon concrete all the same.

Habitat for Humanity - building with ICF in CA

Alexandria, VA — Build with Strength is partnering with Habitat for Humanity International to fortify decent, affordable and sustainable housing across the U.S. Build With Strength is donating concrete for the construction of Habitat homes and will work directly with local Habitat organizations to support home builds across 16 locations.

Backed by the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA), Build with Strength is a coalition of architects, builders, engineers, emergency services personnel, policymakers and others committed to solving challenging housing issues. Build with Strength is partnering with Habitat to help further address those issues on a large scale.

“We have a responsibility as an industry to have a positive societal impact. Our partnership with Habitat represents a commitment to that responsibility in communities across the country,” said Mike Philipps, president of the NRMCA. “The NRMCA members are proud to supply concrete in all of these markets and to be supporting this initiative. But to help more families have homes that are both affordable and resilient means that much more. Our hope is to expand this partnership so that we can continue supporting Habitat’s vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.”

Rebuilding in an area flattened by wildfires

Butte County, the first project under the partnership, is set to break ground in April and includes the construction of three homes in Paradise, Calif. This area of the country has faced significant challenges with wildfires in recent years. The use of concrete to build the homes will provide families in the area with more durable housing.

“The town of Paradise was 90 percent destroyed by wildfires. Residents have had their lives turned upside down,” said Nicole Bateman, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Butte County. “We are grateful for our partners in the concrete industry for stepping in to help with the rebuilding process. Their generous donation will not only provide affordable housing but also resilient homes that can withstand the elements that come with wildfire prone areas.”  

“We are very excited about the opportunity to partner with Build with Strength,” said Julie Laird Davis, vice president of corporate and cause marketing partnerships at Habitat for Humanity International. “One of the most important pillars of our organization is building stronger communities. Build with Strength holds similar values and will be an integral part in ensuring that more families have access to safe, durable, and affordable homes.”

ICF concrete home survives wildfires in California
ICF concrete home survives wildfires in California proving that resilient homes can be a good option

Other associations also helping

Other industry groups involved in the collaboration and contributing to the projects include the Insulating Concrete Forms Manufacturing Association (ICFMA) and the American Concrete Pumpers Association (ACPA).

“We are extremely proud to be a part of the partnership with Habitat for Humanity. It gives us a great opportunity to set an example for how we should be building resilient communities across the country,” said Mike Kennaw, Board Chairman, ICFMA. “ICF construction can help hardworking families by providing safe and strong homes, and we are really grateful to be a part of that.”

“Habitat for Humanity is an incredible partner for these projects. It’s an amazing feeling to know that the industry will help to provide affordable homes that are comfortable and safe for those living in them,” said Christi Collins, Executive Director of ACPA. “Concrete can provide great peace of mind for homeowners.”

About National Ready Mixed Concrete Association

NRMCA is celebrating 90 years of representing the producers of ready mixed concrete and the companies that provide materials, equipment, and support to the industry. It conducts education, training, promotion, research, engineering, safety, environmental, technological, lobbying and regulatory programs. To learn more, visit the NRMCA here

About Build with Strength

Build with Strength is a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association and works with communities, lawmakers, and industry employees to advocate for safer, sustainable
building materials. To learn more, visit Build with Strength here.

About Habitat for Humanity

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home.

Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and selfreliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit Habitat for Humanity here.

About Insulating Concrete Forms Manufacturing Association

The Insulating Concrete Forms Manufacturers Association (ICFMA) is the North American nonprofit trade association for the Insulated Concrete Form industry and was founded in 2014 by a dedicated group of manufacturers with the interest of improving the quality and acceptance of Insulated Concrete Form construction. To learn more, visit the ICFMA here.

About American Concrete Pumpers Association

The American Concrete Pumping Association was founded in 1974 with the objectives to promote concrete pumping as the choice method of placing concrete, and to encourage and educate the concrete pumping industry on safe concrete pumping procedures. The ACPA Operator Certification Program is the only industry-recognized certification program for testing concrete pumping practices.

Members of ACPA include owners of concrete pumps, manufacturers of concrete pumps, and distributors of concrete pumps and accessories. 

Ecohome helped previously on this Habitat for Humanity project in Quebec
Ecohome helped previously on this Habitat for Humanity project in Quebec

Ecohome and Habitat for Humanity

One of the best ways to afford positive change in the construction industry is to send the next generation of builders out into the field with the desire and necessary knowledge to build something better. The New Frontiers School Board (NFSB) in Ormstown, QC did just tha with Ecohome's help.

The 'Our House' project was an ambitious undertaking that fully embraced the LEED green building rating system (three teachers were already certified with LEED credentials) and they gave their students a chance to work on a registered LEED for Homes building project. Having project experience is essential to attaining LEED credentials, but that opportunity is not always easy to find, so this was another leg up for NFSB students who wanted to excel in their careers by attaining green building credentials.

Along with training teachers and students to become LEED certified, Ecohome had the pleasure of being part of the design team from the beginning, and seeing the level of participation and interest among the students has been motivating and rewarding. 

"The 'Our House' project has served an invaluable purpose in the life of the Carpentry Program at our Centre. Students knew that working on the project is not a right, but a privilege - a way to learn new and exciting strategies, techniques and processes.” said LEED AP-certified teacher John Hodges. See more about this and other Habitat for Humanity projects Ecohome have helped with here. We look forward to helping in the future too!

Now you know more about ICF construction, learn how low-carbon concrete can help reduce the carbon footprint of eco homes and promote sustainable construction... 

Find more pages about sustainable and resilient green building techniques here : 

Find more about green home construction in the EcoHome Green Building Guide pages