Among the chief benefits of concrete and masonry construction is passive fire protection. Non-combustible concrete and masonry construction resists fire, does not burn, and provides fire containment through compartmentation or division into units. Such fire protection, in addition to a wide variety of other benefits, will translate into significant long-term cost savings for developers and/or owners.
For instance, insurance providers offer lower premiums on policies covering long-lasting fire-resistant concrete and masonry construction. These systems also provide structural integrity and resistance to natural disasters such as earthquakes, high wind events like hurricanes, wildland fires, and floods with minimal damage and low repair costs. After floods or storms, concrete and masonry construction will not be a source for mold growth.
Concrete and masonry construction’s durability also makes it virtually maintenance-free. Routine cleaning and painting are not necessary for many finishes, substantially lowering maintenance costs.
Robust concrete and masonry construction provides savings on operating costs as well. It is suitable for a large variety of insulation strategies and provide thermal mass benefits which reduce and delay heating and cooling loads.
Non-combustible concrete and masonry construction has been proven to contain fires in low-, mid-, and high-rise residential buildings to individual units or between vertical or horizontal fire barriers, allowing time for emergency responders to initiate evacuation and attack procedures and to more easily extinguish the confined fire.
Multi-family dwellings should include:
- Automatic fire detection systems
- Automatic fire suppression systems (fire sprinklers)
- Minimum two-hour fire resistance-rated non-combustible concrete and masonry separations between living units
- Minimum two-hour fire resistance-rated non-combustible concrete and masonry between living units and public spaces
- Minimum one-hour fire resistance-rated non-combustible exterior walls
This type of construction reduces operating costs while optimizing life safety and property protection for occupants. These are direct cost benefits to a developer/owner or benefits that can be communicated to owners interested in providing safe, quality, long-lasting housing for occupants.
When it comes to building construction that combines minimal life cycle costs with life safety and property protection, there is no comparison to non-combustible concrete and masonry construction.