100-year-old construction solution addresses overcrowded schools

OTTAWA, Canada, November 16, 2011 — Mention overcrowded schools these days and you’re bound to hit an emotional button – in new communities and older ones. Whether you’re building a new school, adding a school addition or moving in portables, you can’t seem to please everyone. But, when it comes to the actual construction of the building, a technique that has been around since the early 1900s is gaining popularity across Ontario and Canada. It’s called concrete tilt-up panels and its list of benefits reads like it was discovered just for schools:

  • Speed– Classroom walls can be erected in a few hours; an eight-classroom structure with washrooms and air conditioning can be completed in mere weeks. A school can be built in as little as six months.
  • Energy Efficiency - The natural thermal mass properties of concrete reduce energy costs. Tilt-up buildings offer an overall energy and life cycle performance that is typically 20-60 percent more efficient. This translates into a comfortable learning environment.
  • Cost and Value - Tilt-Up construction is the most cost effective solution for durable wall construction, and why the use of tilt-up has exceeds a billion square feet of wall area annually, globally. 
  • Durability - The natural properties of a concrete insulated core help to protect against vandalism and maintenance abuse. The inherent fire resistance of concrete allows classrooms to be located closer to an existing school (attached in most cases) without sacrificing valuable playgrounds or forcing students and staff to walk outside during inclement weather.
  • Versatility - The fluid properties of concrete allows for any size, design and finish. Every school addition can be designed and constructed to suit the architecture and requirements of the existing school.

“Concrete tilt-up is a construction technique whose name says what it is -- concrete panels are cast on-slab, then tilted to install,” says Shawn Hickey, president of SiteCast Construction, Canada’s leading concrete tilt-up specialist. “When school or classroom structures are built with tilt-up concrete panels,  students and staff study and work in a healthy, sound, safe, comfortable environment, suitable for a productive work day.”

In 1999, SiteCast built its first school in Cumberland Ontario using insulated concrete tilt-up panels. The school was built three times faster than its sister school that was built using conventional brick/masonry construction. Within a few years, the school had saved 38% on its energy costs.  Since then SiteCast has worked with general contractors and construction managers throughout Ontario to build schools additions.

To view a time-lapse video on the construction of Louis Riel School and a video on tilt-up construction, visit the SiteCast school resource centre:


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