Frost Protected Shallow
Insulated Concrete Form
building is only as good as its foundation. When the building outlasts its foundation,
repair or replacement can be extremely expensive and complicated. Furthermore, the rest of
the structure can be severely damaged by foundation failures. Perhaps the most
environmentally responsible foundation decision is to plan for a foundation that can
withstand the soil, moisture, and seismic conditions where it will be installed, and that
will perform well for the entire life of the building.
By contrast, structures that are meant to be temporary may not need an energy- and material-intensive foundation designed to last for many decades. Using an extremely durable foundation where it's not needed is also a waste of resources. To achieve the best resource efficiency, the foundation and the structure it serves should be of comparable longevity.
Today the most common foundation choice across much of our country is poured-in-place concrete. Other options, such as concrete masonry block, are popular in some parts of the country, while systems such as permanent wood foundations and stone foundations experience limited use. Concrete foundations enjoy outstanding pest resistance and comparatively good moisture resistance. Unfortunately, concrete alone is a poor insulator, and the portland cement used in concrete consumes tremendous amounts of energy in its manufacture. In particular, cement production has been identified as the source of approximately 8% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions.
Designers and builders seeking to make environmentally responsible building material decisions can look at a range of options, many of which are designed to reduce the total amount of cement and concrete use, while still taking advantage of the structural and longevity benefits of the material.
Visit some foundation system examples