42 Broad Street West, Fleetwood, NY
Courtesy ICF Panels LLC 42 Broad Street West, Fleetwood, NY

Mike Cleary’s LinkedIn page is on fire.

Ever since he posted this drone-shot video of construction activity at 42 Broad Street West, a $92 million, 16-story mixed-use luxury development in Westchester County, N.Y., he’s wondered, “What did I start?”

The 30-year construction industry veteran is overwhelmed by the reaction to his company’s work on America’s tallest building constructed with panelized insulated concrete forms (ICFs).

Building with ICFs is nothing new. Cleary’s company, fittingly named ICF Panels, has erected dozens of low- and mid-rise ICF structures over the last 15 years. What makes this 1:06-minute video especially fascinating are two things:

42 Broad Street West
Courtesy The Bluestone Organization 42 Broad Street West
  1. ICF panelization. Custom, prefabricated ICF panels are an unusual sight—panelization is comparatively new to ICF. A lightweight crane makes it a snap to lower and place the foam-framed panels.
  2. ICF assembly speed. The completely fabricated, reinforced, window and door buck, braced, poured, and striped assembly is running at the rate of 7,000 square feet every 10 workdays. This achieves a delivery date at least two months ahead of schedule than otherwise possible.

“Schedule is everything,” observes Cleary. “Everybody thinks it’s about money. It isn’t. Schedule is everything for a multifamily developer. Nail scheduling, and everything else falls into place including the money.”

ICF panelization accelerates an already rapid building system. Factory-built ICF panels of up to 50 feet in length avoid many of the biggest pitfalls of site-built construction, including weather delays and worker staffing issues. For NOI-minded multifamily owners and developers, ICF panelized construction is an answer to a prayer.

$600,000 NOI Bonus
Cleary says the company’s first all-panelized ICF project was four years ago. “It was an eight-story multifamily [development] in Brooklyn, N.Y., about a quarter-million square feet,” he says. There was no looking back.

As for 42 Broad, “I’ve taken four to five days off the construction schedule per floor,” Cleary explains. “That’s about $600,000 worth of rent that wouldn’t exist otherwise. The workforce is about one-third of a field-built team, and we deliver at a faster tempo.”

No Rebar? No Mesh? No Problem
Working with code officials was slightly more interesting, especially when inspectors learned there’s no rebar or mesh. “That’s a tough sell,” smiles Cleary. Instead of rebar, ICF panels are poured with concrete dosed with a micro rebar called Helix. Helix is a game-changing rebar alternative developed by the military to withstand blast forces that shattered standard reinforced concrete. Helix is IBC- and IRC-compliant with the evaluation reports to prove it.

The story on energy conservation and acoustics is just as compelling. “Just by using ICF panels, I cut energy and utility bills 60% to 65% compared with stick-built. I won’t even get into the unmatched mold, mildew, and disaster resistance. STC acoustic ratings are phenomenal, too,” Cleary adds.

Growing Buzz
Cleary is involved in an assortment of projects, including 18-story (Philadelphia) and 22-story (Phoenix) structures. “I advise anyone considering ICF panelization to call us early in the design phase,” he says.

As for LinkedIn, he can only smile. “I’m getting a ton of private messages. ‘What are you doing?’ ‘How do we do this?’ ‘Can you help?’ Sometimes I think, what did I start?”

To learn more about building with concrete, visit www.buildwithstrength.com.