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Insulating Concrete Forms
Worker installing insulated concrete forms

With this type of construction, workers pour concrete into forms that act as insulation.

Photo courtesy of the Portland Cement Association

This is a 60-year-old technology that's enjoying new life with the discovery of its energy-saving properties.

The Portland Cement Association, one of the top makers of concrete forms, defines them as "cast-in-place concrete walls that are sandwiched between two layers of insulation material." Concrete is poured into forms that serve as insulation layers and remain in place as a permanent part of the structure. The technology is used in freestanding walls and building blocks.

An industry-funded study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology issued a report in late 2010 that said buildings made from insulated concrete forms saved 20 percent over the energy consumed by wood-frame buildings in cold climates such as Chicago [source: Ochsendorf].

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