A new foundation wall system based on high performance composites technology is all set to replace the conventional poured concrete foundation walls considered the industry standard for residential homes in the United States.

Unveiled at the Chicago AIA Show, the patented Epitome quality foundation walls from Composite Panel Systems (CPS) install in two hours, increasing the efficiency of residential home builders.

CPS recently launched the specially engineered solution with the help of their panel systems fabricator, Fiber-Tech Industries, Inc., and fire-retardant resin systems supplier, Ashland Performance Materials, a commercial unit of Ashland Inc., to replace vertically installed concrete walls during the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Convention and Expo in Chicago.

Combining integrated stud cavities for mechanicals, insulation, the top plate and a vapour barrier all in a single step, the technology is currently approved for use in Wisconsin and compliance on the national level with IBC and IRC is on track for October 2014.

Epitome quality foundation walls have been designed for simple installation with minimal training required for anyone skilled in the trade. The use of composites also minimises moisture development or mould issues common with traditional foundations, providing homeowners with a warmer, drier, more energy-efficient and ready-to-finish basement.

CPS founder and president Glenn Schiffmann said that the multiple benefits of the foundation walls for builders and homeowners alike make Epitome one of the most exciting developments in the residential building industry since the introduction of plywood. He explains that composites offer incredible performance, especially in basement applications as an alternative to concrete.

Epitome’s inherent R-16.5 insulation value delivers better energy efficiency. An airtight transition between the floor and foundation makes it more efficient than a standard concrete foundation. These foundation walls also pass the NFPA 286 room corner burn test, eliminating the need to cover with a thermal barrier such as drywall prior to occupancy. These qualities allow homeowners to finish their lower level at their convenience.

Andy Beer, global business leader, Ashland Performance Materials adds that the composite technology is designed to withstand six times a sand backfill load, and can be installed in any soil type suitable for backfilling.

Composites have become the material of choice in many critical industrial, infrastructural, aerospace and military applications, thanks to qualities such as high strength, dimensional stability, corrosion resistance, durability and longevity. Composites are preferred for their ability to raise performance levels, address traditional material design limitations and enable the development of new solutions such as Epitome quality foundation walls.