Continuous insulation without thermal bridges or “insulation gaps”, as is common in framed construction. Thermal mass, when used well and combined with passive solar design, can play an important role in further reductions in energy use, especially in climates where it is common to have outside temperatures swing above inside temperatures during the day and below at night.
ICF walls can have four-to six-hour fire resistance rating and negligible surface burning properties. It is worth pointing out that the International Building Code: 2603.5.2 requires plastic foam insulation (e.g. Polystyrene foam, Polyurethane foam) to be separated from the building interior by a thermal barrier, regardless of the fire barrier provided by the central concrete. Forms made from cement bonded – wood fibers, polystyrene beads, or air (i.e. cellular concrete – e.g.) have a fire rating inherently.
Insulating concrete forms create a structural concrete wall, either monolithic or post and beam, that is up to ten times stronger than wood framed structures. Structural integrity for better resistance to forces of nature, compared to framed walls. The components of ICF systems – both the poured concrete and the material used to make the ICF – do not rot when they get wet. Insulating concrete forms structural system, if used in high seismic risk zones, has an acceptable ductility.