SUSTAINABILITY

Front View of 1200 Intrepid

Sustainability FAQs

Precast concrete contributes to green building practices in significant ways. The lower water-cement ratios possible with precast concrete (in the range of 0.36 to 0.38) mean that it can be extremely durable. The thermal mass of concrete allows the shifting of peak heating and cooling loads in a structure to help reduce mechanical-system requirements. Because precast concrete is factory-made, there is little waste created in the plant (most plants employ exact-batching technologies) and it reduces construction waste and debris on site, reducing construction indoor air quality concerns. The load-carrying capacities, optimized cross-sections, and long spans possible with precast concrete members help eliminate redundant members, and concrete readily accommodates recycled content.

The United Nations Brundtland Commission Report (1987) defined sustainable development and urged the world to take note: “Sustainable development is that which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” A growing global population is straining the finite resources available on the planet. Sustainability seems to balance the economic, social, and environmental impacts, recognizing that population growth will continue. Sustainable development brings this evaluation to the design and construction industries, which have significant potential to reduce the negative impact of human activities on the environment.

More and more local, regional, and national government agencies require sustainable building practices or LEED certification. The General Services Administration (GSA), U.S. Army, Department of State Department of Energy (DOE). And Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is adopting LEED or similar green-building standards. Twenty-five states including California, New York, Washington, and Oregon have adopted LEED as have over 100 municipalities.

Most project teams perform a comprehensive life-cycle cost assessment (LCC) prior to defining their sustainable goals for the project. The LCC predicts how long it will take to recoup the additional first cost.

"The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them."
Paul Hawken

Featured Projects

Front Entrance Willow Creek Elementary School
Education 08/2009

Willow Creek Elementary

The two-story, 108,000 ft2 Willow Creek Elementary School was built in response to increased enrollments at the elementary school level. The school opened for the 2009-2010 academic year and features 44 classrooms, a cafeteria, gymnasium, library, computer labs, art, and music classrooms for an estimated 700 students.

The $22.1 million school was designed by AEM Architects, Inc., which also designed the nearby Tilden Elementary Center in Hamburg, PA with CarbonCast High-Performance Insulated Wall Panels. The Tilden school was completed in 2007.

Willow Creek was built in proximity to other Fleetwood facilities and takes the place of an older block and brick structure. According to AEM project architect Justin H. Istenes, the insulated wall panels were chosen for the school because “precast is built to last. The owners toured High’s Denver plant and the Tilden school while it was under construction, and were satisfied they were getting better value with precast insulated wall panels.”

View Willow Creek Elementary
Statue of Liberty Museum side of museum view
Municipal/Government 05/2019
2020

Statue of Liberty Museum and Screening Facility

At this iconic location, now stands resilient structures that are dynamic in expression and were inspired by the irregularity of the water’s edge, as well as the geometry of the circular Flagpole Plaza. This is a one of a kind museum and screening facility that leads precast structures into a new level of strength and beauty.

Merging building into the landscape, the design eschews formality in favor of an asymmetrical design that embraces its dramatic setting and changes of form as visitors move around it. The vertical patterning of the precast concrete sandwich panels was inspired by the Palisades cliffs along the Hudson River. The project’s materials link the future of the Island with its past. Inspired by the idea that the museum has been “lifted” from the park, all vertical surfaces are rendered in irregular, vertical patterns suggestive of a tectonic shift; they provide a compositional counterpoint to the building’s dominant horizontality. The precast concrete panels have a deeply textured, irregular pattern, which creates dramatic shadows; this texture reflects the Palisades cliffs of New Jersey.

View Statue of Liberty Museum and Screening Facility
Front Entrance Tilden Elementary Center
Education 06/2008

Hamburg Elementary School (Tilden)

An outstanding thermal performance was achieved at Hamburg Elementary school (Tilden) with CarbonCast walls. Amid skyrocketing energy costs and heightened public awareness of green construction practices, more building owners are seeking environmentally friendly solutions without incurring higher costs.

Tilden Elementary Center in Hamburg, PA, is no exception. The school for kindergarten through fifth-grade students will save on heating and cooling costs with innovative precast high performance insulated wall panels engineered, manufactured, and erected by High Concrete Group.

High Concrete’s 10”-thick precast exterior walls on the 110,000-square foot project delivers R-15 performance. They use three inches of continuous XPS insulation (“ci” as defined in ASHRAE Building Energy Code 90.1-2007) sandwiched between a 4” interior wythe and a 3” exterior wythe. C-GRID carbon fiber shear grid connects the two wythes. With relatively low thermal conductivity, the carbon fiber prevents thermal transfer, virtually eliminating hot and cold spots on the interior wall preserving comfort for students.

High’s precast walls helped keep the project on schedule and under budget, both of which are critical for a public school. The project was completed in June 2008—in plenty of time for teachers to welcome students for the first day of school.

View Hamburg Elementary School (Tilden)
Nassau 8th Precinct Front Entrance
Municipal/Government 08/2018
2019

Nassau 8th Precinct

Following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, many structures owned by Nassau County in New York state were evaluated for structural damage, including the police precincts. Prior to the storm, several of these buildings had already been in need of renovations to accommodate a growing police force and resolve problems of aging infrastructure, and the storm accelerated this need, says Gilbert Balog of LiRo Architects + Planners.

In the 8th District, Nassau County wanted to replace the 1950s-era frame and brick precinct buildings with structures that communicated civic pride and could withstand the onslaughts of future major events. “Resiliency was a major factor in the selection of precast concrete construction,” says Dianne Pohlsander, design architect for LiRo. “In fact, everything came together with precast concrete: resiliency, fabrication that wasn't weather dependent, constructability, and the desired aesthetics.”

Precast concrete also helped address unique logistical challenges on this project. Construction was constrained by long and narrow site, and, because the new precinct house was constructed at one end while the old building stayed open for operations at the other, the team was under pressure to complete the project quickly with minimal site disruption. “Precast concrete gave us that quick erection time that we needed,” Pohlsander says.

View Nassau 8th Precinct

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