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Issue 17

October 2008  

  Occupational Safety

As ICF becomes a more prevalent building system, North American dealers and installers of Quad-Lock ICF need to extend their knowledge of building techniques to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In order to prepare for the upcoming inspection and enforcement by OSHA, this and future articles will discuss various compliance issues facing the ICF industry.

Electrical Cords & Tools...

The US Safety Standards impose some fairly strict requirements on the long-term use of electrical cords and power tools. Within weeks of a new purchase, many of us take the equipment we have for granted and spend little, if any time considering whether we are in violation of safety standards. If your jobsite is audited, you could be in for some hefty fines for violations. Here are some points contractors may forget or ignore.

  1. Electrical tools must have a ground fault interrupter, preferably at the point of attachment to the electrical supply. For example, to protect the users on a scaffold system, a common safety interpretation on electrical concrete vibrators requires the breaker between the vibrator unit and the power cord. The same applies to hammers, screw guns and other tools used on a scaffold system.
  2. All temporary power sources must have a ground fault interrupter to protect the user. This includes generators used at the site and generators must also have a ground fault disconnect in their control panel. Further, they need to be sized for the connected load during the start up of all electrical tools connected to the source.
  3. If the electrical power cords you use are missing the grounding prong on the plug you are in violation of US Safety Standards. In addition, the cord needs to have the proper size wire for the distance from the electrical source. So, if you have 3 electrical cords inter-connected to get from the power source to the work area you are also in violation of US Safety Standards.

If you have a larger crew, a great investment could be electrical bus connectors that use a large, heavy-duty 220 volt feed to a central panel in the middle of the worksite. Damaged power cords or cords that have been protected with electrical tape are the most common violation. Acquiring a new or a short extension cord with a ground fault breaker is cheaper than the fine for each violation. Future ideas on tool safety, ladders and scaffold placement, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and concrete placement will follow in upcoming months. If you have any topics that you would like to see covered, please email us!


Caddy® Box 350

Our latest tip from the field comes from Kevin Spaulding in Vermont for attaching electrical boxes to both Quad-Lock and the R-ETRO System walls. Kevin uses a "screw-on box support clip" from Erico (Caddy® part no. 350) to screw to a tie flange and hold electrical boxes in place. This meets code requirements for fastening boxes to structural members.


 Mono-Brace Safety & Training Materials

OSHA-approved Safety & Training Materials, including Inspection Tips are available for download from the Mono-Brace website. Visit www.mono-brace.com and click on the OSHA Safety & Training button.


 Sustainable Concrete Solutions for Homes

PCA has released a new Technology Brief defining concrete uses for potential points contribution under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Homes (LEED-H).

LEED-H, created by the US Green Building Council establishes a construction program for housing built upon criteria of previous LEED rating systems. The many sustainable benefits of concrete technologies provide residential architects and builders with solutions that can help a project more easily qualify for certification.

Read the Technology Brief.


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Life Cycle Assessment: ICF & Wood Frame

Comparison of the LCAs of an ICF House and a Wood Frame House

Originally completed in 2002, updated in 2006 and now newly re-released in 2008, this report presents the results of an assessment of the environmental attributes of concrete construction compared to wood-framed construction. The LCA was conducted on a house modeled with two types of exterior walls: a wood-framed wall and an ICF wall. The LCA was carried out according to the guidelines in International Standard ISO 14044, Environmental Management - Life Cycle Assessment - Requirements and Guidelines. The house was modeled in five cities, representing a range of US climates: Miami, Phoenix, Seattle, Washington (DC), and Chicago. Each house is a two-story single-family building with a contemporary design. The house system boundary includes inputs and outputs of energy and material from construction, occupancy, maintenance, demolition and disposal. The system boundary excludes capital goods, human labor, impacts caused by people and waste treatment after disposal. An LCA of buildings typically does not include measures of disaster resistance, occupant comfort, or occupant productivity. The life of each house is 100 years.

The data show that in all five methods for a given climate, the impact indicators in each category are greater for the wood house than that for the ICF house. Furthermore, in each of the five methods, the ICF house has a lower single score than the wood-framed house in almost all impact categories. The most significant environmental impacts are not from construction materials but from the production of electricity and natural gas and the use of electricity and natural gas in the houses by the occupants.

Read the full report.

The Value of Basement Insulation...

Basement Retrofit Insulation R-18!Kevin Spaulding walks you through why adding basement insulation in colder climates is one of the most cost effective improvements you can make to your home.

Kevin has been successfully selling the R-ETRO System since its release earlier this year and will tell you that even adding a modest layer of insulation to basement walls will result in an incredible reduction in heat lost through un-insulated concrete walls. With the R-ETRO System adding R-18 to existing wall surfaces, the results are felt immediately, both in less fuel used and in more heat within the home.

Read The Value of Basement Insulation in Cold Climates.

Green Building is Growing Despite Economy

You can't turn on the TV to watch the news or read the newspaper without witnessing reports about the doom and gloom of our global economy. First, it was all about the cost of a barrel of oil and the rising fuel costs worldwide. More recently, financial, housing and mortgage markets are the worst they have been in decades. There is talk of depression and economic collapse around the world.

WOW. Where can I run and hide until this is over? Unfortunately, you can't hide, but expect some major changes within the financial, mortgage and housing markets that will be a good thing in the long-term. We are already seeing significant mergers, acquisitions and historic changes that should result in the general stability of the economy.

So, this sounds like a disaster for all of us in the building industry, right? As we head towards 2009, I would suggest that you do not need to be forced into accepting sluggish sales and eroding profit margins. A recent report published by McGraw-Hill Construction in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Green Building Program, says quite the opposite. The report studied green building practices from 2001 to 2007, including building in a down market and included these major findings:

  • 40% of builders find "building green" makes it easier to market in a down economy, 16% find it makes it much easier.
  • In 2009, 21% of builders expect to be building 90% of their projects to green standards.
  • 60% of builders claim home buyers are willing to pay more for green homes.
  • 85% of builders think energy efficient features are the ones making homes more environmentally friendly.
  • Builders use products that lead to energy efficiency far more than other elements. They focus on air sealing / tight construction, increased insulation and Energy Star products.

Green building has been at the forefront of the media over the past several years. The reality is green building is not a fad and will continue to revolutionize the building industry. Builders, contractors and architects can no longer ignore the benefits and advantages of green building as the buying public becomes more informed about green technologies. While this report is focused on the residential market, these statistics and the building practices can just as easily be applied to the commercial market.

It is true, there will be fewer residential and commercial opportunities in 2009, but construction will not stop. Builders will have to differentiate themselves from their competitors to maintain or grow in the current economy. Green building is clearly the answer. This report is a good indicator that if you focus your efforts on green-friendly architects, builders, developers and contractors, you are more likely to have a prosperous 2009. Quad-Lock has been in the green building business since 1994 and there is no single product on the market that can make a bigger impact on energy efficiencies for the building envelope.

Good Selling,

DJ Ketelhut
Director of Sales, Eastern North America

Cold Weather Concreting

Bulgaria5-1.jpgWith the approach of the winter season and cold temperatures in the northern regions, many builders face the challenge of pouring concrete in temperatures at or near the freezing level. Most of us were taught that concrete can't be placed in freezing temperatures, but that isn't always so (even though concrete requires a certain minimum temperature to begin the chemical reaction required to start the curing process). Using Quad-Lock ICF, concrete walls can be poured in freezing weather under certain conditions. Here are some ways to combat cold temperatures at the jobsite:

  1. Order concrete batched with hot water so it arrives at the jobsite sufficiently warm to begin the curing process.
  2. Include air entrainment if the mix is expected to be exposed to freezing temperatures.
  3. Cover the tops of forms to prevent freezing and transmission of cold through exposed anchor bolts.
  4. Increase the cement content of the mix to promote faster curing.
  5. Include concrete admixtures in the mix to accelerate the curing immediately after placement.

Quad-Lock's Product Manual contains a section on cold weather concreting (pages 124 & 125), including charts that outline minimum exposure temperatures versus the mass of the wall and cement content of the mix. You can review this information in a meeting with your Ready-Mixed Concrete Producer representative a couple of days before the pour to ensure you get the product you need.

View an excerpt of these pages or view the entire Product Manual.

Douglas Bennion
Training & Technical Services Manager

Energy Efficient Commercial Building - Tax Deduction

Extended through December 31, 2013

Section 179D(a) is a deduction for commercial building owners whose buildings meet certain energy standards. The deduction is as much as $1.80 per square foot for buildings that achieve a 50 percent energy savings target. Before claiming the deduction, the owner must obtain written certification from a professional engineer not related to the company, using approved software that the required energy savings will be achieved.

We Need Your Help...

 Proven Energy Efficiencies

As part of our on-going development of materials to assist in the sale of Quad-Lock, we want to create a library of statistics about structures built with Quad-Lock Insulating Concrete Forms. You can help us by submitting your energy bills, along with the bills from a comparable house in your neighborhood for us to add to our library. When you do this Quad-Lock will pay your highest month's energy bill for your troubles.

Contact us for more information.


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Best regards,
Quad-Lock Building Systems

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