Innovative techniques

Permanent Insulation Formwork Systems (PIFS) are beginning to make an appearance in Britain. The principle behind PIFS is the use of precision moulded interlocking hollow blocks made from an insulation material, usually expanded polystyrene. They can be rapidly assembled on site and then filled with pump grade concrete. When the concrete has set the result is a highly insulated wall ready for the installation of services and internal and exterior finishes. They can achieve a U-value as low as 0.11 W/m2K. Above three storeys the addition of steel reinforcement is necessary.

The advantages of this system are:

• Design flexibility; almost any plan shape is possible.

• Ease and speed of erection; skill requirements are modest which is why it has proved popular with the self-build sector. Experienced erectors can achieve 5 m2 per man hour for erection and placement of concrete.

• The finished product has high structural strength together with considerable thermal mass and high insulation value.

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