BuildBlock Projects, Habitat For Humanity

New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity ICF Project, November 2023

In November, BuildBlock sponsored and led a small residential housing project with the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity in Louisiana as a part of the NRMCA’s Build With Strength initiative. This build featured a small duplex built on the NOLA Area Habitat’s campus that will be used to house AmeriCorps Volunteers that work with the non-profit year-round.  

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that works with local communities to provide safe, affordable housing for families in need. This building initiative is also sponsored by Build with Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Association (NRMCA) and works with communities, lawmakers, and industry employees to advocate for safer sustainable building materials.  

“We first learned about Build With Strength through the conference that Habitat for Humanity has every year. Build With Strength was exhibiting and presenting, we visited with different vendors and we were looking at these incredible blocks. They look like a children’s toy and I was intrigued with them. How does this work? What makes it better than the traditional way we’ve always built? We started asking questions, we started talking to people and our friends at the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association really stepped up and put us all together to help make this project happen.”  

– Marguerite Oestreicher, Executive Director, New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity 

The New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity used this project as a perfect opportunity explore how to cost-effectively build low-income energy-efficient, disaster resilient, sustainable housing using concrete and ICFs.  

New Orleans and Louisiana at large has experienced first-hand how devastating hurricanes, high winds, and flooding are. When planning this project, considerable emphasis was placed on strength and disaster resilience; that’s part of the reason why ICFs were chosen as a building material. ICFs have been tested and proven to be resilient and safe in high winds, storms, and other natural disasters.  

The University of Florida Hurricane Research Center tested three different wall types to measure impact damage resistance by firing a 2”x4” wood stud into each wall at 100 MPH. The three walls that were tested were wood-framed, CMU and ICF. Out of all three wall types, the wood-framed wall and the CMU wall both sustained catastrophic damage while the ICF wall was the only one that was able to withstand the impact without taking damage. The strength and resilience of a concrete wall is only part of the reason why the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity decided join the Build With Strength program and use BuildBlock ICFs.  

This build also featured ECOPACT concrete by Holcim, a low carbon mix that delivers a 30% reduction in carbon while still delivering full strength concrete. This was just one more element of this build this build showcasing greener, low- carbon building technologies and demonstrating sustainable and green building with ICFs and concrete. As the building industry continues to emphasize low carbon materials and construction methods, this build provided is a clear example of how concrete homes can be built sustainably, have a lower environmental impact, while being resilient and energy-efficient and cost-effective. 

This project also highlighted the speed and efficiency of using ICFs, in addition to demonstrating more environmentally conscious building materials. Building walls for this project took only two days with leadership from senior BuildBlock staff coupled with novice habitat volunteers! Visitors and builders alike were amazed to see how quickly walls can be formed using BuildBlock ICFs and how simple the construction process is compared to other building techniques. Training on this project was the professional building crew that supervises this organization’s other projects. While working on this project they were impressed how simple and straightforward building with ICFs is. They enjoyed being able to fit five steps of wall construction into a single process (form, frame, fur, sheathe, and insulate) which greatly increased the construction speed.  

“Honestly, my favorite part of this has been watching the team build the walls and in two days the walls are up. Normally, framing and building out those walls takes a lot longer and it’s been an absolute delight to come out in the morning to look at it and then four hours later it looks like a completely different build site.”  

– Marguerite Oestreicher, Executive Director, New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity 

Michael Phillips, the president of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA)was on site for the project’s media day and spoke about his organization’s commitment to building affordable and sustainable housing with concrete. He shared the importance of the concrete industry’s progress of reducing carbon in concrete, specifically with ECOPACT by Holcim on this project. Additionally, NRMCA members have reduced their overall carbon footprint by more than 21% since 2009 and are well on their way to delivering zero carbon concrete by 2050. 

Brian Corder, president & CEO of BuildBlock ICFs delivered comments emphasizing how great this project was not only for BuildBlock and Habitat for Humanity, but for the entire ICF and concrete industries.  

Our team along with professionals in the concrete industry and volunteers from Habitat came together to build a project that will deliver much needed housing for the AmeriCorps volunteers that are critical to the mission of New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity. This project clearly demonstrates affordable energy-efficient and disaster resilient construction. There is no better way to illustrate the ICF and concrete industries’ commitment to building for a better tomorrow than proving that existing materials and methods today deliver disaster resilient, energy efficient, and sustainable homes for anyone. 

On behalf of the BuildBlock team, we are excited to continue working with the affordable housing space to create affordable housing projects using energy-efficient and disaster resilient technologies. We will continue to work creating new products and technologies that make it faster, easier and cost effective to build sustainable, disaster-resilienthousing. 

To learn more: 

BuildBlock Building Systems – 

The New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity –  

The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association – 

Build With Strength – A coalition of the Read Mixed Concrete Association – 

The American Concrete Pumpers Association –  

The Insulating Concrete Forms Manufacturers Association – 

Holcim Concrete & ECOPACT Low Carbon Concrete –