Precast concrete delivers benefits to everyone involved in K-12 projects, from the architects and school board to the students and the community. Today, schools must provide high-performance learning environments while being designed, built, and operated sustainably. In many cases, these structures also provide a community gathering place and safe refuge in the event of severe storms. Selecting to build with precast concrete can help you meet these goals more efficiently than most other building systems and materials, while helping meet sustainable goals.
School building performance includes several factors such as learning environment, maintenance costs, energy usage, and occupant safety. Research shows that most of a building’s life cycle costs actually come from its operations, not its initial construction costs. Hence, a greater emphasis should be placed on design and construction decisions that lead to more efficient operations. This will ultimately lead to reduced life cycle costs.
Precast concrete’s insulated sandwich wall system’s thermal mass and continuous insulation provide for energy-efficient building envelopes that save money and reduce emissions. Precast concrete is also an air barrier and moisture retarder and does not require additional protection.
Precast concrete is manufactured offsite in controlled environments with high degrees of quality control. It is made with a low water-to-cementitious ratio which results in higher quality concrete with compressive strengths of at least 5000 psi, lower permeability, and greater overall durability. This keeps maintenance costs low. For example, when using thin-brick finishes, there are no mortar joints to tuck-point.
Precast concrete’s inherent strength easily meets FEMA 361 requirements and provides for safe havens in the event of hurricanes, tornados, and storms. It also provides for passive fire resistance, blast resistance, and superior impact resistance. This keeps people safe while helping reduce damage to the building.
Schools must be built on time and on budget, while providing long-term value to the community. Precast concrete helps you meet these requirements by providing great aesthetic and design flexibility, along with rapid construction. Precast concrete also helps improve the indoor environmental quality and reduce risks.
Precast concrete is the fastest building system available. Components are manufactured offsite in a controlled environment, while other site work is able to commence. It is delivered to the site as needed, reducing the need for onsite storage and staging areas. This helps to reduce site impact by minimizing the footprint. It is then erected quickly and is minimally impacted by weather, helping to maintain schedules.
Precast concrete provides no food source for mold, while allowing for acoustic control and design flexibilty which creates quality learning environments. Also, precast concrete does not off-gas or contain VOCs, which provides better indoor air quality. Often the interior of precast concrete wall panels are left exposed as the interior finish for the school, reducing the need for drywall. This further increases the speed of construction and decreases associated waste. Less drywall also means less potential food source for mold.
Precast concrete walls systems are face-sealed and do not provide cavities for moisture and other problems to hide. Precast concrete can also combine multiple finishes into one panel, reducing the number of trades, detailing issues, and associated risks.
Aesthetics is part of how a building fits in with its environment. Precast concrete offers the most aesthetic versatility and design flexibility of any building material or system today.
Precast concrete offers maximum versatility in color, form, and texture to make your vision a reality. Since precast concrete is cast into molds, it can be shaped to any form, designed with a high degree of detail, and essentially look like any material or incorporate other natural materials.
Precast concrete can also be veneered with natural materials such as brick and stone. Thin brick veneer is actual clay brick that is cast into precast concrete wall panels. This brick comes in all the colors, shapes, and sizes of traditional hand-laid brick and can be designed in any pattern. However, with thin-brick you receive additional benefits, such as reduced maintenance and site impact, increased speed of construction, and increased durability as mortar joints have been replaced with high-quality concrete.
Since precast concrete’s components are essentially custom made, it offers incredible design flexibility such as long open spans; custom shapes and forming; combination finishes on a single piece, such as brick, stone, and exposed concrete; and easy integration with other building systems and components. Precast concrete is also a structural material and can serve as both the envelope and the structural system, reducing time, materials, and costs.