Concrete Industry & Habitat Teamwork Provide a Winning Combination for Concrete Homes

Mt. Vernon, Iowa (January 22, 2002) -- Four families in the New Orleans area will soon discover the benefits of energy-efficient concrete home construction. The New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, in partnership with cement and concrete industry allies, recently constructed four 1,100-square- foot homes that feature above-grade exterior concrete walls. The walls for these homes were built using removable aluminum concrete forms that incorporate a layer of foam insulation. The benefits of concrete and foam wall construction were readily apparent to Jim Pate, Executive Director for the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.

"New Orleans Habitat is especially pleased with the energy efficiency and durability of concrete homes," says Pate. "Every dollar saved in energy or maintenance costs by our Habitat homeowners is another dollar they can use for family emergencies, educational opportunities, or just a family dinner at a decent restaurant once in a while."

Some of these savings could be immediate, thanks to programs by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources designed to promote energy-efficient building practices. These concrete homes qualify for HERO-Home Energy Rebate Options - which offer up to $2,000 for highly efficient homes. To qualify, the homes must meet standards of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Energy Star Homes: 30% more energy efficient than the requirements of the 1995 model energy code. The concrete Habitat homes easily exceed this standard. Further energy monitoring of the homes will be conducted by Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC). Florida Solar is a leading research institution working with the Department of Energy's "Building America" program and dedicated to increasing the energy efficiency of America's homes by a minimum of 50%.

In addition to the energy savings, concrete wall construction addresses two other major threats to the New Orleans area- hurricanes and Formosan termites. New Orleans' below sea level location and proximity to the Gulf Coast have made hurricanes a constant danger. The Formosan termites are a more recent threat, but no less serious. This breed of termite is far more voracious than other types found in North America and has caused billions of dollars in damage to the New Orleans area economy over the last two decades. The concrete walls of the Habitat homes will stand up well to either menace.

As with all Habitat projects, the construction of the New Orleans homes was accomplished through the efforts of many individuals and organizations that donated labor, expertise, and materials. LaFarge North America donated all of the concrete for the project, through their corporate Habitat program (a five-year, one-million- dollar commitment to support Habitat for Humanity nationwide). Western Forms provided the concrete forms and technical personnel to oversee the wall construction. Dow Chemical Corporation provided their Thermomass technology foam system to help construct the insulated sandwich panels on the first home. Members of the Concrete & Aggregates Association of Louisiana (CAAL) volunteered their time, as did cement company personnel from Lonestar Industries, Holnam Cement, and LaFarge North America. Lonestar Industries personnel were particularly active, with over 30 volunteers putting in at least 300 hours of on-site labor. Rodney Hubble, of Force One Walls, contributed a significant amount of time to coordinating construction of the walls and providing technical assistance. Hubble also brought several interested concrete wall subcontractors from other cities to work on this innovative construction project. Brian Bock, PCA National Accounts Program Manager, was instrumental in bringing all of the project participants together and keeping things on track. Jenni Grover, PCA Senior Media Relations Representative, issued press releases and alerts to keep the local New Orleans media informed of the project. In addition, a film crew from the Jazz Brunch television show was on hand during the construction process for show content. Jazz Brunch is a New Orleans based, community-oriented show that has for years touted concrete homebuilding as a solution to many of our nation's housing problems.

The homes built in New Orleans are part of a national effort by the concrete home industry to collaborate with Habitat affiliates and other affordable housing programs. The common goal is to construct high-quality, energy-efficient, safe, and durable homes for those Americans in greatest need. In recent years, a number of other Habitat homes have been built using concrete wall systems, including eight recently constructed in the Houston area (to be featured in the next issue of this newsletter), and several more to be built in Atlanta over the next month.

Western Forms, the aluminum form manufacturer that donated the forms for the New Orleans homes, is a primary sponsor of the Concrete Homes Council (CHC) of the Concrete Foundations Association (CFA). Although removable aluminum forms are typically associated with basement foundation walls and commercial construction, the CHC was formed earlier this year to promote the use of removable forms for above-grade residential applications. For more information about the CHC, visit

For more information about Habitat homes built with concrete, visit, and look for the "latest news" section.


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