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Lincoln construction crews use lumber alternative as demand skyrockets

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 8:04 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The housing market is booming and in turn the demand for lumber is too. This is leading the way for an alternative here in Nebraska.

The alternative is called ICF, which stands for Insulated Concrete Forms. ICFs are foam blocks that stack like Legos and are filled in the center with concrete. ICFs are normally 5% more expensive because of the energy efficiency and insulation, but as lumber prices rise, the alternative is now cheaper.

“It dampens the sound quite a bit versus wood insulation and the conventional type of building. You have the safety of concrete reinforced walls, which is important here in the Midwest when we have the natural disasters that we’ve seen,” said Director for Nebraska Concrete & Aggregate Association, Jeff Mulder.

The greater insulation and tighter construction also makes ICFs much more energy efficient.

Here in Lincoln Habitat for Humanity’s goal is to create decent, affordable and sustainable housing. With donations, volunteers and materials from the Nebraska Concrete and Aggregates Association, the home is being built entirely out of ICFs.

“The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association and Habitat for Humanity have teamed up to showcase these all across the United States. They’re building 50 of them in the next few years, and Lincoln is one of the first homes they’re doing,” said Mulder.

Experts say one of the biggest reasons people don’t build more with ICFs is because they don’t know about them.

One of the main concerns when switching to ICFs is the price, but with the rising costs of lumber, and long term energy efficiency, ICFs are now cost effective.

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