Home builders increasingly are turning to concrete wall systems. According to a recent market research survey by the Portland Cement Association, 13.8% of builders used a concrete abovegrade wall system in 2007, a 60% rise from the last survey in 2003.

Insulating concrete forms (ICFs) experienced the largest growth in usage. In 2003, 2% of builders surveyed said they used ICFs. This jumped to 6% in 2007. The use of removable concrete forms for homebuilding doubled, 1.2% in 2003 to 2.4% in 2007.

"Home builders in our survey reported that energy efficiency was the most important issue for homeowners," Jim Niehoff, PCA residential promotion director says. "It appears that more and more often this need is being met with concrete wall systems."

Concrete offers many advantages when compared to traditional wood-frame construction. For example, homes built with insulating concrete forms, where concrete is sandwiched between two insulating layers of foam, require significantly less energy to heat and cool, which can save the homeowner of an average-sized house hundreds of dollars per year in utility costs. Concrete wall systems also significantly reduce the risk of building in hurricane zones and are well known for creating a quieter, more comfortable indoor environment.

The survey also showed that builders, even if they are not currently using concrete wall systems, are becoming progressively more aware of them. All the concrete systems had awareness levels of 92% or higher.

The questionnaire, conducted in early 2007, was sent to custom homebuilders throughout the United States to assess the awareness and use of concrete abovegrade wall systems and competing systems, as well as to measure the attitudes and perception of homebuilders towards these systems.

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