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Photo courtesy of Nudura
Energy Efficient Schools Start Here
A higher performing school starts with a higher performing building envelope.  Insulated Concrete Forms is the answer for a ultraefficient wall system. ICF walls provide not only solutions for the owner, designer, and contractor but also a sense of security and safety for parents. Due to ICFs resiliency, sustainability and inherent safety benefits, ICFs should be the answer for new schools.
Check out why Jennings Creek Elementary in Kentucky is one of the most energy-efficient schools in the Country
The trifecta of an ICF building envelope, geothermal heating and cooling, and solar panels help this school save the district hundreds of thousands of dollars a year!
School Districts
Schedules On average, ICF systems will reduce construction schedules by 10% - 20%, which can save the school districts months of time, helping them to stay on-time and on-budget. This is especially important when a school is dependent on being open for the start of the next school year.
Costs There are many inherent benefits to cost savings when it comes to ICF construction for schools. What people often don't realize is the upfront cost savings in construction time and money. ICFs are competitive or, in some instances, cheaper than Concrete Masonry Unit (CMU) and Precast. 
Hear from Chris McIntyre, CFO of Warren County Public Schools in Kentucky, on why they are leading the nation in energy efficient schools. 
Operating Budget ICFs can save 30%-50% in heating and cooling costs depending on your HVAC system. That means school districts can save hundreds of thousands of dollars per school year. These savings add up quickly for school districts allowing them more money for teachers' salaries, athletics, computers, supplies and other operational costs.
Energy Reduction Use and Net-Zero Not only do ICFs save districts money from the energy costs listed above but they also have higher inherent R-Values than many other wall systems. When you take in account the higher R-Value of the foam, added thermal capacity of the concrete and very little air infiltration, the overall amount of energy used to heat and cool the school is greatly reduced. If you add in a geothermal HVAC unit (which many schools are already using) and solar panels you can easily achieve a Net-Zero school. 
Safety In the previous 3 years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states there have been 50 national disasters costing Americans $234.3 Billion which have caused 553 deaths in the county. 2020 brought the Derecho along with the normal tornadoes and severe storms we are used to in Iowa. Doesn't it make sense to build your school out of something that can withstand winds of up to 250 mph, can be easily designed as a storm shelter, meet FEMA missile impact tests, is fire resistant, and safer for your students?
Comfort Indoor air quality is a big deal for many people. With ICFs being a tighter envelope than other construction methods it becomes cheaper and easier to monitor and control the air to make students and teachers lives better. Not only is the air better for people to breathe but due to ICFs ability to deter sound it is also much quieter. ICFs have a Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating of 50 or better. That means you can barely hear a loud shout making less interruptions for students who can play their instruments or study in quiet. 
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Warren County Public Schools in Kentucky save hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs giving them more money for teachers' salaries since both of these come directly out of the operational budget. 
General Contractors
Scheduling There are many reasons why ICFs are gaining in popularity when it comes to schools. Due to the 6-in-1 system, with ICFs acting as the form system, structural wall system, insulation, air barrier, and vapor barrier, not only is the construction schedule significantly reduced but sub-trades are minimized reducing their amount of time on site and shortening lead times. It's a complete assembly without adding extra layers and components.
Construction Concrete can be poured year around and in inclement weather. With the forms being lighter, the amount and type of equipment needed to construct is lower, making it easier to navigate job sites. For example, a 27,000 sf ICF wall can be constructed in 7 weeks with a 7-man crew at a competitive cost to CMU and steel. 
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                           Photo Courtesy of LiteForm
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Ashbury Elementary School, Papillion, NE poured in 2020.
Photo Courtesy of Fox Blocks
Risk Reduction Risk is a big factor for architects. If a project can easily meet structural strength requirements, have less moisture issues, and minimal wall assembly components then risk can be reduced making everyone feel more confident that the school they are designing will exceed expectations.
Plans, Details, and Design Help The National Ready Mix Concrete Association and Iowa Ready Mixed Concrete Association and it's members are ready and willing to help answer any questions or help with designs or details for ICF projects. The NRMCA Design Center offers free concrete project design and technical assistance for projects and can help you with any building design.
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