A new game-changing system, recently recognized for its energy-efficient composite approach to basement construction, soon could change how American builders construct foundations.

Epitome composite foundation walls from Composite Panel Systems (CPS) provide a highly insulated, fire-resistant alternative to poured-concrete foundation walls. The product was awarded the Composites and Advanced Materials Exposition’s Unsurpassed Innovation Award in Orlando, Fla., on Oct. 14.

The high-performance wall system, which was introduced in June, combines integrated stud cavities for mechanicals, insulation, the top plate, and a vapor barrier in a single step. The technology is currently approved for use in Wisconsin and is expected to be compliant on a national level with International Building code and International Residential Code later this year, according to a press release from Ashland Performance Materials, a supplier of fire-retardant resins for the system.

The 7-inch-thick, 24-ft-long and 9 foot-tall wall panels are made of a foam-cored fiberglass composite material. Shaped connection flanges on each panel allow attachment to adjoining panels. The new system requires minimal training and--thanks to the panels’ light weight--a complete basement system can be delivered in one trip so that most installations take less than two hours, the company says.

In addition, because the system passes National Fire Protection Association standards, the panels do not require covering with a thermal barrier such as drywall prior to occupancy. This allows homeowners the flexibility to finish their lower level at their leisure and save money upfront. Other benefits include:
--Decreased moisture and mold issues.
--Installation in any soil type suitable for backfilling.
--An inherent R-16.5 insulation value.
--An airtight transition between the floor and foundation.
--A maximum allowable house load of 8,900 lbs/linear foot after the safety factor is applied.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Epitome is called “the most exciting thing the residential building industry has seen since the introduction of plywood” by its inventors. Do you think this is a product that could revolutionize the way you build homes? Weigh in using the Comments section below.