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Patrick Murphy addresses the crowd at a ceremony celebrating the 100th insulating concrete form (ICF) home built in Lubbock, Texas.

During Patrick Murphy's eight years as president of American PolySteel, he led the Insulating Concrete Form (ICF) manufacturer and the industry, into a new era of green building.

PolySteel, of Albuquerque, N.M., was one of the first ICF manufacturers to exhibit at the annual Energy and Environmental Building Association conference, the first ICF Energy Star partner, and the first ICF system to achieve Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certification in 2007.

The C2C designation, developed by consulting firm McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, identifies products that can be completely reused or recycled to reduce waste and maximize the value of materials. It considers a product's raw materials, manufacturing process, and the manufacturer's work environment. PolySteel's Silver C2C certification proved that plastic foam can be used in ICFs without creating an environmental hazard.

This opened the door for ICF manufacturers and everyone who works with them to the expanding world of green building. “I was frustrated for a long time that the green building industry did not recognize the sustainability of ICFs,” says Murphy. “Historically, concrete and plastic have been shunned as ‘bad' building materials.” By securing PolySteel's C2C status, he bridged the gap between the ICF industry and the environmental community.

For his foresight and innovation, we honor Patrick Murphy as one of our industry Influencers.

Spreading the word

For many years, Murphy promoted the ICF industry as a member and former director (2001–02) of the Insulating Concrete Form Association, of which PolySteel was a founding member. He also reaches out to the construction industry with a message of environmental responsibility through PCA, NRMCA, and EPS Molders Association, which promotes using expanded polystyrene foam.

PolySteel participated in a symposium with the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH), where Murphy spoke about barriers to technological innovation in housing. PolySteel also provided ICFs for the basement and foundation of the first PATH Concept Home in Omaha, Neb., promoting the large-scale and economical use of ICFs in affordable residential construction.

Murphy challenges others to join the cause. He says there should be a significant C2C leader in every industry to show products can perform way beyond the usual expectations.

He would like to see concrete producers come together to develop a C2C mix design that could be used industry-wide. “The C2C process forces a dialogue between producers and their suppliers to encourage an environmentally responsible solution all along the supply chain,” says Murphy. “It empowers businesses to make these changes, rather than relying on government regulation.”

A C2C concrete mix could be used with other materials to build greener projects, such as a complete C2C-certified ICF system, which would qualify for more LEED points. Besides, Murphy says, it would only enhance the reputation of the concrete industry.