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Building Green Schools At Breakneck Speed

A construction whirlwind encompassing five Seminole County, Fla., schools during the summer break was immensely productive. Between June 16 and August

A construction whirlwind encompassing five Seminole County, Fla., schools during the summer break was immensely productive. Between June 16 and August 11, 21 new classrooms were installed Û four each at Bentley, Hamilton, Spring Lake, and Keeth elementary schools, plus five at Partin Elementary.

Supplying patented, prefabricated concrete units that reportedly provide greener structures with greater hurricane protection, besides accelerated construction, Royal Concrete Concepts (RCC) removed 11 portables and erected 21 state-of-the-art classrooms for Seminole Schools. Notes RCC Vice President John Albert, We fulfill a need Û not currently met in the marketplace Û for sustainable, economical buildings designed and built in a third of the time [required for conventional methods]. Moreover, these buildings last twice as long at an overall lower cost.

The classrooms were fabricated at RCC's Okeechobee facility and trucked 95 percent complete to the job sites. Accordingly, they arrived at each school equipped with electrical wiring, plumbing, and interior finishes, including white boards, tile floors, and cabinets. Because production occurs indoors under controlled conditions, the precaster asserts, its method is more precise and less wasteful than traditional brick-and-mortar construction, thus offering a more sustainable approach to building.

The structures withstand Category 5 hurricane winds. Additionally, school districts save 20-30 percent in initial outlay, RCC contends, and incur minimal maintenance and energy costs over time. Precast construction, the company adds, provides sound attenuation for quiet classrooms that also are resistant to mold, mildew, termites and fire.

As green buildings become the minimum standard in local construction codes, companies like RCC already using this approach are ahead of the game, affirms Paul Nutcher, communications director for the Central Florida Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, developer of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] green rating systems. The demand for green buildings is expected to increase dramatically in coming decades.

Observes Wally Sanger, president and owner of Royal Concrete Concepts, With today's limited budgets and environmental focus, school boards must be prudent with their constituents' money and good stewards of the earth. We believe applying Henry Ford principles [of cost-effective, assembly-line production] to building schools helps school districts achieve these goals.