Icf Occupies Habitat’s Brooklyn Apartment Specs

New York City’s first use of insulating concrete forms (ICFs) for a multifamily dwelling a nine-unit apartment complex proved to be the linchpin in providing

Steven Prokopy

New York City’s first use of insulating concrete forms (ICFs) for a multifamily dwelling Û a nine-unit apartment complex Û proved to be the linchpin in providing housing for low-income families in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The project marks a first for the city, as well as the first-ever use of ICF construction for any Habitat for Humanity (HFH) project.

Assisting in the HFH-New York City development were the New York City Concrete Promotion Council (NYCCPC) and members Tilcon New York (donating aggregate); New York PolySteel (ICF); Sika Corp. (admixtures); and, Lafarge North America, supplier of 200 tons of cement to Brooklyn ready mixed producer Greco Brothers, which in turn donated concrete sand and delivered the estimated 400 yd. of concrete at cost. Chris Pearson of NY PolySteel pulled double duty as the project’s ICF supplier and general contractor.

Carmine Attanasio, executive director of NYCCPC, credits Essex Cement Co.’s Michael Fletcher, LEED AP, as the driving force behind the selection of ICF for the project. Working with HFH-NYC for more than four years, Fletcher (formerly of Lafarge and who also acts as the Promotion Council’s ICF Committee chairman), arranged for all of the donated and discounted materials and labor from the sponsoring companies. For his initiative and dedication, Fletcher received the Northeast Cement Shippers Association Promoter of the Year Award at an event in late 2007.

While still under construction, the Brooklyn complex, located at the corner of Halsey Street and Marcus Garvey Boulevard, was a major component of the Promotion Council’s Home Show and Tour in July, during which the complex received a great deal of local media attention. Besides an open house, seminars on the ICF process were offered.

Consumers aren’t the ones who need convincing on the value of concrete homes, says Attanasio. Contractors and builders want to know if it’s less costly. Even without the Habitat discounts, building with ICFs is competitive. That’s why we have these home shows, so the owners can ask for the concrete homes. And, now there is no question in HFH’s mind that they will build more single- and multifamily houses using this method.

The idea sparking the 16-month construction was generated more than three years ago via NYCCPC’s major ICF push. We gave many presentations trying to convince Habitat that ICFs were the way to go on this project, explains Attanasio. Michael Fletcher and I were out there pushing this, but New York City in general is apprehensive toward change on anything, including building design and materials, which is something we’re always fighting against.

We tried to get Habitat to look at ICFs five years ago for a group of single-family houses, and they were concerned about making that leap. We really had to push the idea that you’re getting your money’s worth, but you also get soundproofing, fireproofing, utilities are cut by a third, and insurance is 20 Û 25 percent less with concrete homes.

The Brooklyn project coincides with a Habitat for Humanity-Westchester County duplex home under way in Yonkers, just north of New York City, where Oldcastle Precast and High Concrete Group are supplying precast wall, floor and roof components.