Precast Concrete Project Management: How to Combat Strict Timelines for Your Educational Building

The Reading High School building with cream and tan precast concrete panels.

Four in ten public schools do not have a long-term facility plan. What does that mean for the community that centers itself around the institution? As projected student enrollment continues to grow, schools are in dire need of facility improvements. 

More often than not, educational institutions don’t have the lead time to make these renovations because schools need to be open the majority of the year. This blog provides some insight into precast concrete project management practices and how they can positively impact your new educational building.

The Need For Educational Facility Improvements

As someone who’s heavily involved in the educational industry, you’ve probably experienced infrastructures that need repairs or serious maintenance. These experiences are validated by the staggering statistics from the Infrastructure Report Card. 

More than half of the public schools in the United States are in need of structural or HVAC system repairs. On top of that, one-third of schools have portable buildings on their campus because their permanent facilities cannot keep up with the increasing enrollment. 

As a whole, the Infrastructure Report Card grades public schools with a D+. So, there is an obvious infrastructure problem nationwide. School administrators are put in a tough position because they are in need of improvements but don’t necessarily have the time and resources to make it happen. 

Additionally, communities rely on schools for more than a learning environment for their children. Oftentimes, public schools are used for the community as emergency shelters when natural disasters strike and as a meeting space for public events.

How Does Precast Concrete Help Manage Construction Projects?

So, there’s an identified problem with the infrastructure and a need for improvement. Now, let’s highlight how precast concrete can assist educational facilities and ultimately make a streamlined process for renovated infrastructure. 

Below, we’ll discuss in more detail the factors of construction projects, and how precast concrete project managers make these processes easier for educational institutions.

Combating Strict Timelines

One of the most hindering factors in renovating educational facilities is the fact that the school needs to be running for the majority of the year. It’s crucial that if you’re making improvements and constructing a  building, it’s ready in time for a new school year. 

Traditional construction project managers have a lot of factors that aren’t controllable and can cause a domino of delays. This could include supply chain delays, severe weather, or even labor shortages. These factors can be detrimental to an educational institution that already has strict timelines to consider. 

How precasters manage construction projects is unique to other types of building materials. From the very beginning, we’ll work with your team to create a model of your structural design that maximizes your budget and is precast concrete-friendly. 

By getting a precaster involved early on in the process, you can eliminate redesigns and road bumps further along. 

An additional bonus, the majority of your precast concrete structure is produced within a controlled environment. So, factors such as supply chain issues, severe weather, and labor are not restricting or prolonging your timeline.

As we are producing your structure and designing your exterior, we can reuse formliners and molds to streamline the process and add cost savings to the design. 

There are also scenarios where structural components such as windows, insulation, and smooth exposed internal walls are installed prior to transportation to the construction site. By incorporating these steps during the production process, you eliminate the additional work on the physical site. 

Because of the collaborative nature and efficiency of precast concrete construction, this is one of the fastest methods to get your structure up and running on time.

Minimizing Disruptions & Flow of Operations

For a traditional construction site, you’ll likely need to close down roads, block off sidewalks, and potentially use parking lots and fields for your vehicles and equipment. Consider how this affects the daily life and flow of the surrounding community. 

These disruptions go beyond daily life and can actually have an alarming effect on the environment. This rise in dust poses a threat to overall air quality and human health. Noise pollution and loud sounds can cause lasting issues for the environment and humans.

Although precast concrete structures still require a construction site, the time spent on the actual worksite is significantly less. This reduces the amount of disruption and closures that are required to install your building. That way your community can continue to flow smoothly, even during the renovations. 

Since precast concrete components are produced off-site, preparation and production can happen simultaneously. Once all components are ready for installation, it’s a much smoother and efficient process with precast concrete. 

When using precast concrete components, each piece is delivered and installed on the same day. Also, the amount of labor required for installation is minimized. Only the erection crew and shipping team is needed to install precast concrete building components. 

Our precast concrete project management team will clearly define a timeline with you for installation so it’s a swift and efficient process for you and your community.

A crane on a construction site installing a precast concrete wall panel.

Other Ways Precast Concrete Construction Management Helps Schools

Combating strict timelines is a great priority for educational institutions, but not the only reason you should choose precast concrete. Below, we’ll highlight additional long-term benefits applicable to the building and surrounding communities.

Efficient Building & HVAC Systems

As previously mentioned, a majority of schools face issues with their building HVAC systems which can cause costly utility bills and leave students in uncomfortable temperatures. If classrooms are too hot, or too cold, students may be distracted and not able to effectively learn the lessons. 

Consider students who are in summer school, or taking a standardized test when school’s not in session. The heat can actually cause a decrease in productivity and ultimately mean lower scores on these tests. 

A way to improve these situations is to work with a building material that has a strong building envelope. A building envelope is what separates the conditioned and the unconditioned environment of your structure. 

So, when you have a weaker building envelope, buildings are less resistant to air and water. And when that is weakened, you’ll likely notice you cannot efficiently cool down, or heat up your entire building. 

Precast concrete cladding has a very strong building envelope which means interior temperatures can be better controlled and you can expect to save up to 25% on monthly heating and cooling costs. This is especially useful for urban schools that may experience heat island effects.

Becoming a Monumental Piece of Your Community

As we previously stated, your public school is an integral part of a child’s upbringing. It can also serve as a safe haven for the community. Whether that’s for emergency shelters, community meetings, or fundraising events, your institution should be a representation of your society.

Especially if you are a public school that is used as a community shelter, it’s essential to have a building material that is resistant to natural weather storms. Precast concrete is known for its incredible strength and durability.

Where other building materials will deteriorate with the presence of water, precast concrete will only grow stronger.

The world languages school with two flags on the lawn.

Schools That Have Incorporated Precast Concrete Into Their Structures

We've discussed how precast concrete buildings can greatly benefit educational timelines, the communities they support, and the environment. Now, we’ll go into examples of schools that have already taken advantage of this building material.

Public School 667

In an urban environment, speed, and efficiency are crucial for a successful building project. That is why, Public School 667, ultimately chose precast concrete as their building material. The administration had a strict timeline that meant the school had to be ready for the new school year. 

Our precast concrete project manager took a collaborative approach to the design process and created an exterior that matched and blended in with the existing community buildings. This was a five-story structure and incorporated thin brick precast facades to accelerate the construction process.

Reading K-12 School

There are scenarios when a school’s growing capacity indicates it’s time to create a new structure. For the Reading K-12 School, they wanted one building to replace the three existing schools. In its entirety, this building was going to hold 15,000 students. 

The architect on the project wanted a traditional brick structure, without the long timelines and loud construction site. Ultimately, he chose precast concrete as the building material. Precast concrete panels meant that the large building’s interior temperatures could be easily controlled with little maintenance requirements.

Academy of World Languages

Not only does precast concrete provide an efficient building and time-saving process, but the material also provides a lot of design flexibility. The Academy of World Languages administration wanted the ability to have different colors and textures on the exterior of their structure. 

Precast concrete walls also eliminate the need for additional insulation and you can easily paint the interior to mimic your vision. This saved the project time and money, so the building construction fit into the strict schedule of the educational facility.

Take advantage of precast concrete’s construction management and ensure your school facilities are ready in time.