Members of the Portland Cement Association installed ICF walls at the Habitat for Humanity home, which will become a USGBC Legacy home.
Members of the Portland Cement Association installed ICF walls at the Habitat for Humanity home, which will become a USGBC Legacy home.

It was an especially hot and humid summer here in the Midwest. The air hardly cooled at night and the air conditioners got an especially tough workout for several weeks. But as the saying goes, it wasn't the heat, it was the humidity.

So it was even more impressive when dozens of volunteers labored in the middle of the August heat to help build a tribute to concrete's sustainable attributes. Thanks to a $125,000 donation from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Habitat for Humanity of Lake County (Ill.) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) teamed up to build two affordable green homes in Waukegan, Ill.

Members of the Portland Cement Association, which is based in nearby Skokie, were especially helpful. Under the direction of Eric Barton, graduate master builder for Biltmore Insulated Concrete Inc., PCA staff helped erect the insulating concrete forms which were donated by LOGIX. This will play a great role in energy savings. The home with the ICFs should require 25% less energy to heat.

Concrete plays a tremendous role in both homes. Features include Oldcastle concrete roof tiles, permeable interlocking pavers, and concrete countertops. The driveways will be pervious concrete. Thelen Sand & Gravel donated 30% fly ash ready-mixed concrete.

USGBC will feature the homes during its Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Chicago, Nov. 16-19. The Greenbuild Legacy Project Committee will donate the Waukegan homes to the host city as a symbol of gratitude for hosting Greenbuild and to share the benefits of green building.

Both neighboring homes have the same 1200-square-foot, three-bedroom floor plans and appearance but were built using two construction methods. The Legacy home features ICF and panelized construction. The second home uses conventional “stick” construction. Both homes are registered for Platinum LEED designation and for the National Association of Homebuilders' National Green Building Standard.

The second, non-ICF home will be only 75% complete by the time Greenbuild starts. That was no accident. “Greenbuild attendees will have the exclusive advantage of witnessing much of the construction, providing not only a learning opportunity for building and design professionals, but also to educate on the importance of making affordable homes synonymous with green homes,” said Kimberly Lewis, vice president of conferences and events for USGBC. Eventually, these will join the other 6602 projects that have been LEED-certified throughout the nation.

If you plan to attend Greenbuild, consider joining the staff of our sister publication, ECO-STRUCTURE, for their luncheon and Evergreen Awards. The event takes place from noon-1:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 18, at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place. Visit for more information.

You can find the winners of our own GreenSite Awards in our feature article. They are all outstanding examples of why concrete has become a green construction material of choice.