Alamosa School District in Alamosa tied for first runner-up in the commercial, heavy division of the 2010 Insulated Concrete Form Awards at the World of Concrete conference in Las Vegas. The national award, given to Alamosa’s new K-2 and 3-5 schools, recognizes building projects that utilize ICF construction. The Neenan Co., based in Fort Collins, is the design-builder of the two 72,000-sq-ft schools.
An ICF is a system of concrete forms that stays in place after the concrete pour and becomes part of the wall structure. The form adds insulation to the building, which reduces heating and cooling costs. Energy models show 72% reduction in heating costs with ICF compared to conventional metal-stud framing.
“The new schools mean so much to the community of Alamosa, and we’re honored to receive this recognition,” said Rob Alejo, superintendent of schools for Alamosa School District. “The ICF construction will save money so that we can put more of our budget into teaching rather than utility bills. Even more, these are beautiful schools that will enhance learning and student achievement and where students, teachers and community members will enjoy spending time.”
The total project size of 145,000 sq ft is larger than the typical ICF project. Neenan designers worked closely with ICF manufacturer Reward Wall Systems to ensure that the use of ICF would not inhibit or dictate design aesthetics but would instead align with the high-design and high-function vision the school district had for the projects.
The new school campus consists of two identical schools connected by playgrounds and landscaping. Designers focused on clean, modern and welcoming design themes for Alamosa’s young students. The exterior features varying facades and rooflines to inspire whimsy. In addition, the team designed cantilevered ICF walls with lower rooflines to create more thermal energy and energy efficiency.
Inside the school, Neenan interior designers subtly used the colors of the rainbow to aid in wayfinding for children who navigate the buildings daily. Nearly every space in the schools has daylighting and outdoor views, proven to increase student achievement.
The Colorado Dept. of Education funded a majority of the school projects with the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program. They challenged Alamosa School District to reduce energy costs and create high-performance schools that will serve the community for at least 50 years. The schools will be open this August and are being submitted for LEED-Gold certification.