My children grew up in the 80’s and 90’s in a school system that was growing so fast, planning seemed impossible.

by David Lindsey


The school board worked diligently just to provide enough classroom space for the students. The temporary solution was pre-manufactured portable classrooms. So as it turned out, my children spent a good portion of their grade school and high school years in temporary structures that turned out to be not so temporary. Over time these structures began to rot, and leak. The teachers complained about the conditions, but the portables remained – eating power like a ‘72 Sedan de Ville.

ICF wall systems allow schools to build permanent module classrooms. Classrooms can be built one at a time or in multiples and they can be constructed quickly. Additional classrooms can be added at a later time, creating permanent classroom wings. Their energy efficient construction makes single unit hv/ac economical and energy affordable. These structures are more cost effective over the long term and the reasonable short term. But most importantly, they are safe room storm shelters.

The classroom modules illustrated to the left can be constructed individually in as little as thirty days when planned properly. These structures are built slab on grade so that accessibility is no longer a problem. Walls separating the classrooms and the walls between classrooms and corridors are super insulated and make sound transmission negligible. ICF roof structures can be designed to accommodate a second floor at a later date, and the buildings can conform to the physical appearance of the existing structures and blend into the school campus.

Interior finishes are low maintenance and economical. Walls are a combination of dry-marker panels and sound absorbing fabric push pin wall panels. These panels are easily cleanable and can be replaced in individual panels if damage occurs – no painting or repainting. There is no need for chalkboards or bulletin boards. They also provide subtle color to the room, making the space more appealing and giving an individual appearance to each classroom. The restroom walls are covered with fiber reinforced panels. The flooring is the same as any conventional school – tile or carpet. And the ceiling is acoustical gypsum board with the solid backing of the ICF roof structure. No more leaks and no more replacing acoustical panels.


The mechanical system is zoned for each classroom by the use of individual units. The temperature can be controlled room by room, assuring temperature comfort levels. The thermally super-insulated ICF walls and roof significantly reduce heating and cooling loads and make individual units effective and affordable. Maintenance is reduced and there is no need to spend tremendous amounts of money heating and cooling areas of the building that are not in use.

The openings in the building envelope are minimal. The window, which is hurricane impact rated and insulated, provides light and ventilation, but does not violate the strength of the structure nor the protection offered to the students and teachers. Mold and mildew are minimized by the elimination of an exterior cavity wall and by the use of building products that do not promote their growth.

ICF classrooms are built using fireproof concrete construction. There is no interstitial space between floors or above ceilings for fire to spread. No draft-stopping is required. Six inch ICF core walls provide in excess of a two hour fire separation between classrooms and between corridors and classrooms.

Individual ICF classroom modules provide a solution for rapid growth educational facility needs and converts that investment into a long life school building that is built green, functional and minimal maintenance. But, the ultimate reason for ICF schools is their strength to withstand storm damage. I have personally witnessed the destruction to schools from tornadoes and hurricanes. I have seen school buildings that were rendered unusable and even more tragically, schools where children and teachers lost their lives. We choose reinforced concrete to build vaults to protect our money, shouldn’t we use the same construction to protect our children, especially since ICF construction makes it affordable.