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Article: ICF Technology on show

Buildblock MidEast, a subsidiary of Bahrain’s Hayat Group formed in collaboration with the US-based Buildblock Building Systems, is promoting its range of insulating concrete forms (ICF) at the gulf BID 2006.

According to the company, the products that are being introduced for the first time in the region have been well received by the various ministers, both in Bahrain and the UAE.”There is much scope for the technology in the region as it offers enormous savings in terms of energy and construction cost,” says company Chairman Hadi Al Alawi. “The concept has been well-received by the various ministries in Bahrain who have asked us to undertake a sample project that will allow us to explain the benefits of the system better”.

Buoyed by the response from the ministries, BuildBlock MidEast says that plans to set up a manufacturing facility in the kingdom are at an advanced stage and that the facility should be up and running in a couple of months from now. To be situated in the industrial area of Bahrain, the facility will include a 10,000 sq ft storage area and a 2,000 sq ft of area to house the presses. Initially, the facility will be equipped to manufacture 400,000 to 50,000 forms annually, but it could be scaled up to produce 8 to 10 million forms or more as and when the demand arises, say Mike Garrett, CEO and president of BuildBlock.

The company, which is at Stand 1E51, says that its ICF solutions can help save cost in terms of labour, energy savings and also time. The company’s ICF wall system comprises hollow foam blocks which are stacked into the shape of the exterior walls of a building, and is a combination of one of the finest insulating materials, steel reinforced concrete.

“The result is a protective wall of unmatched comfort, energy efficiency, strength, and noise reduction. Also, when combined with green building techniques, ICF walls contribute to LEED certification,” says Garrett. Elaborating further Garrett says, “The ICF walls offer energy efficiency of 60 to 70 per cent and has R value of 35, which eliminates any drop in energy. Since they are easy to stack, the walls can be formed quite quickly with less labour. ICF also requires less shoring and bracing than conventional wall systems, which allows builders to cut the erection of walls by about 50 per cent.

“Being monolithic pours, and being devoid of cold joints, ICF walls are typically stronger. Concrete placed using the ICF systems will normally achieve compressive strength that is 50 per cent greater than conventionally-placed concrete because of the temperature-controlled and moisture retaining environment of ICF systems. The Forms also allow for both horizontal and vertical rebar reinforcement as the walls are stacked to form a grid, thereby strengthening the walls system further. One of the outstanding features of a BuildBlock form is its completely symmetrical web design. This means two identical half-height forms are produced when the forms is cut in half horizontally. This feature is particularly useful for step footings-an elevation change at the footing level. Step footings can be planned in increments of one block height (16 inches) or half-block height (8 inches). This will ensure an easy transition and that the forms will line up properly,” Garrett adds.

In addition, owing to the thickness of the forms, much of the electrical and plumbing connections can also be wired into the walls using just a hot knife, he adds.

ICF’s are ideal for all kinds of construction that include: homes, schools, healthcare facilities, municipal buildings and multi family dwellings among other projects, he concludes.