Nancy L. Karas, Prinicpal, East Grand Middle School, Granby, Colorado
I am writing this letter in support of school construction projects being considered or being built with insulated concrete form products. I am the principal of East grand Middle School in Granby, Colorado, an area that receives months of snow and freezing temperatures.
East Grand Middle School is a two story, 87,000 square foot building, constructed of ICF, with walls sanding as high as 44 feet. The entire exterior of the building, except the gymnasium, is constructed of ICF material. The exterior of the ICF is covered with stucco and brick. The interior of the ICF is covered with drywall. The durability of the construction material makes the walls of our building, both inside and out, virtually indestructible.
The upfront cost of construction materials for the exterior of the building were more than traditional school construction. However, the shorter construction time saved money on labor so the difference was not believed to be significant. The completion date and occupancy was four months earlier than planned.
Since entering the building four years ago we have had very few issues. The biggest issue we have dealt with regarding the settling of the building was expansion joint covers not staying on the wall. Easily resolved! A concern I had for the settling of the building was the amount of windows that were built into the concrete walls. I was concerned that as the concrete settled we could have windows or at least window seals break. We have not lost one window or seal to date. The building has no real visible signs of settling.
We do not have cracks, leaks, swelling, buckling, or any other visible signs of a concrete building of this size settling after four years.
Heating and cooling costs of a building are a major concern and expense to a district for the life of a building. This is a cost that can easily be compared to buildings of traditional construction to determine long range savings. The average cost to heat our building, constructed of ICF’s is $.19 per square foot for the year! Our heating bill for the year, even with our hard, cold winters, is approximately $16,500 per year. Traditional (wood) construction at other buildings in our district is $.23 per square foot and steel/metal construction at another of our district buildings is $.39 per square foot.
The building maintains temperature very well. The building is also extremely quiet. Even though the we built the internal walls with traditional steel studs and drywall, the building absorbs the noise inside and doesn’t allow the noise from outside to enter. We are located in the flight path of our local airport and we are directly above the railroad tracks. Noise from either of these is (not) an issue for our students.
Based on being part of the design team, construction team and living in the building on a daily basis, I would recommend any school district looking into building with ICF. The initial material costs may be more, but the construction time, temperature control , noise levels, potential life of the building and the overall feel and look of the facility for many years to come need to be taken into account.