Intelligent School Construction

TWe are out growing our schools. The baby boom echo is continuing to increase our student population and it is not expected to slow down for another decade.

  • Student populations will continue to increase by 7% to 54.3 million from 1995 to 2007.
  • We will need 6000 more schools by the year 2007. In 1997 an estimated $12.7 billion was spent for school construction and maintenance.
  • In 1998, the estimated school construction spending will be $14.6 billion and will continue to increase in 1999.
  • There will be a shift in focus from the elementary schools to secondary and high education facilities.
  • New taxing regulations are making it easier for colleges to fund new construction.
Traditionally schools have been constructed to last. They have been the focal point of a community. In most cases, the presence of a good school raises the community's standards and property values. Through the sixties and seventies there was a moderate shift from high quality construction to one of economy and cost savings. This was due to the economic environment where raising tax dollars or bond funding was expensive due to prevailing interest rates. These cost saving measures have come to haunt us now that repairs and replacements must be addressed. It has been estimated by the General Accounting Office that existing schools are in need of repair and maintenance funding totaling $112 billion. Today the shift to quality construction has returned. Our political leaders, educators, and home owners have realized that it is easier and more cost effective to finance and approve the construction of a high quality new building than it is to come back to the tax payers requesting maintenance funding year after year.

One of the most obvious areas of quality improvement is the floor finishes. Throughout the early century cement terrazzo was traditionally installed in schools. These floors are still in existence today and have withstood the test of time. Occasional polishing brings the original beauty and finish back without major costs. Today the use of thin-set epoxy terrazzo has provided all of the long lasting beauty of traditional cement terrazzo and at the same time has decreased the construction costs due to standard slab construction and quicker installation times. Epoxy terrazzo also brings the advantages of color, unlimited pattern design, protection from cracking, and a nonstaining surface. Although carpet is an excellent finish for low traffic quiet areas, in high traffic areas such as hallways and classrooms, it is hard to keep clean and harbors dirt and odors. Thin-set epoxy terrazzo is non porous and has a significant affect on maintaining healthy indoor air quality. In addition, consideration must be given to the replacement of the carpet every seven to ten years at great cost to the community, especially since the disposal of carpet has become an environmental problem.

Trends in school uses which affect the architectural design include the use of the facilities by the community during off school hours. This means higher traffic and the need for materials which are more durable and easily maintained. Schools are being designed to include common areas for multiple use. These may be food service or dining areas for lunch then converted to performance and assembly areas at other times. After school hours these areas may become community meeting rooms.

Thin-set epoxy terrazzo has been proven to be an excellent finish in high traffic situations as illu-strated in most airports, courthouses and convention centers. The choice of color and design is unlimited. School colors, logos and mascot illu-trations can be set in the floor using strip design. Color and pattern can be used to indicate traffic flow and location identification.

Thin-set epoxy terrazzo is the perfect choice for schools after considering design, durability, maintenance and life cycle costs.