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The Growth of Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICF) in the UK

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

The history of ICF in the UK can be traced back to the mid-20th century.


1. Early developments in the UK (1950s-1970s):

The concept of ICF originated in Europe, and several patents were filed in the 1950s and 1960s for foam-based formwork systems. In the UK, one of the earliest examples of ICF construction was the BISF house, a steel-framed house with insulating concrete panels. Although not a true ICF system, it laid the foundation for the development of ICF in the country.


2. Expansion and experimentation (1980s-1990s):

During this period, ICF companies from North America and Europe started to enter the UK market. Companies like Polysteel, Quad-Lock, and Logix established themselves as key players in the industry. This period also saw experimentation with various types of foam, such as expanded polystyrene (EPS) and extruded polystyrene (XPS). The construction industry in the UK began to recognize the benefits of ICF, such as improved insulation, energy efficiency, and ease of construction.


3. Growth and awareness (2000s):

In the early 2000s, the UK government introduced regulations and initiatives to promote energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions in the construction industry. The Code for Sustainable Homes was introduced in 2006, which set sustainability standards for new homes. These initiatives boosted the popularity of ICF as a viable and energy-efficient construction method.


During this period, several ICF projects were completed in the UK, ranging from single-family homes to large-scale commercial buildings. The industry also saw the growth of ICF-specific training and certification programs, as well as the formation of the Insulating Concrete Formwork Association (ICFA) in the UK.


4. Present day (2010s and beyond):

Today, ICF has become a well-established construction method in the UK, with a growing number of builders and contractors specialising in ICF construction. The market has also seen the introduction of new ICF systems and products such as the UNiBlock System, catering to different building types and requirements.


Increased awareness of the importance of energy efficiency and sustainable construction has further boosted the popularity of ICF in the UK. Additionally, advancements in Building Information Modelling (BIM) and other digital technologies have made it easier for architects and engineers to design and construct ICF buildings.


In summary, the history of insulated concrete formwork in the UK has seen steady growth since the mid-20th century. With a focus on energy efficiency and sustainability, ICF has become a popular and well-established construction method in the country, with continued growth expected in the coming years.

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