Following a tour in November, Build with Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association consisting of fire safety professionals, engineers, architects, civic organizations, and industry experts committed to strengthening our nation’s building codes, released a series of videos promoting the benefits of using Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) – the latest innovation in concrete construction – and how they’re helping make Warren County, Kentucky’s, public schools some of the strongest in the country.

From improved resiliency and energy-efficiency to lower lifecycle costs, school districts across the country – especially Warren County, which has saved $11 million since 2003 – are seeing the benefits of building with ICFs.

ICFs “are a type of permanent concrete formwork that creates the external wall envelope of a building.” Typically, it is standard reinforced concrete sandwiched between two faces of low absorptive, foam plastic insulating material. Its unique, lightweight structure allows crews to construct buildings more quickly and easily than conventional methods, without compromising the integrity of the structure.

“Richardsville Elementary School is a school we have not had to pay an electric bill since it opened,” said Jay Wilson, Facilities Director for Warren County (KY) Public Schools. “The building actually generates more electricity than it consumes. At the end of the school year we usually get a check back from the utility company in excess of $30,000.”

“One of the biggest benefits we’ve seen since moving to ICFs is the speed of construction,” said Kenny Stanfield of Sherman Carter Barnhart, the architecture firm for Jennings Creek Elementary. “ICFs allow us to build rapidly, saving man-hours and costs in the long run.”

ICFs are quickly becoming the building material of choice for educational facilities due to their strength, energy efficiency and ease of use.

“We’ve seen schools destroyed by tornados,” said Kenny Stanfield, Principal Architect for Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects. “And so the ICF schools we build are very storm resistant to the point where it’s a lot safer to be in the school than at home.”