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CPS sees benefit in using insulating concrete form for Kramer Education Center

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A few years ago, Columbus Public Schools officials said they saw insulating concrete form (ICF) as a material that allows for quicker construction, energy-efficient buildings and more.

Recently, crews have been using ICF for the Kramer Education Center, 410 16th St., CPS Director of Technology and Operations Leonard Kwapnioski said.

ICFs are forms used to hold fresh concrete that will remain in place permanently to provide insulation for structures. 

The former home of Kramer High School, CPS' new facility – Kramer Education Center - will consist of a preschool center, day care and offices. The district will first establish the preschool and build the exterior walls for the day care and offices.

Kwapnioski said CPS first heard about ICF from Nebraska Concrete and Aggregates Association Promotions Director Jeff Mulder. Kwapnioski said he and other CPS officials then met with the Kramer architect – BCDM out of Omaha - about the project and using the insulating concrete forms.

Additionally, the district saw first-hand how ICF could be implemented after seeing a few buildings in Omaha that were built using the forms, Kwapnioski added.

“We went just to see them and get ideas on what can happen with the use of ICF,” he said.

Kwapnioski said it also helps expedite construction time. He noted anyone who drives past Kramer can see how quickly the new walls were put up.

Construction on the outer walls – which have been going on for about four days - was postponed due to recent rain, Kwapnioski said. But once the weather clears up and the grounds are dry, work will begin again, he added.

Typically, the ICF walls take about three weeks to be erected which is a much shorter time period versus the alternative, for example using a concrete masonry unit, Kwapnioski said. The forms can even be used during the winter months because of its the insulation factor, he added.

Kwapnioski also said when he met with Mulder, he learned about ICF’s energy-saving properties. He added, as an example, some Ohio schools that have ICF and solar power have become “a net-zero” energy building.

Mulder said ICF is all-around more beneficial. It can be used for both commercial and residential buildings. He added it has been used in building a few Columbus homes.

ICF residential homes are typically found in more rural areas but he helped Habitat of Humanity construct a house with insulated concrete form over the summer in Lincoln, Mulder said.

The material also offers a safer building. Central City’s high school gym was built with ICF and in turn, has also become the school’s storm shelter, he added.

“Putting reinforced concrete walls up provides a safe building for our kids,” Mulder said.

He added ICF also helps the local economy as local companies can be used in creating ICF for the building, Mulder added. 

“When we build something like (Kramer Education Center) in a community and we’re building with some of that money, the money is staying in our community,” Mulder said.

Kwapnioski said he’s happy to have used ICF for Kramer and is looking forward to residents seeing the project come to fruition.

“It’s going to be a welcomed change,” he said. “I think once we’ve got this project completed the community will be really pleased with what we’re trying to do with the facility.”

Andrew Kiser is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at andrew.kiser@lee.net.

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