Converting to Concrete Keeps Residents Safe and Warm
It may seem obvious, but if you start construction in Wisconsin in October, the weather is likely to pose a challenge. Such was the case for the Sauk County Health Care Center (SCHCC), a single-story assisted living facility located in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, 50 miles north of Madison. Yet even before ground broke or the temperature started dropping, ICFs gained favor with the Sauk County Board: facility supervisors felt strongly that providing a fire-safe, disaster-resistant building was the most important thing they could do to assure the well-being of their residents.
At 74,818 square feet, Sauk County Health Care Center is a large building located on 55 acres. Originally envisioned as a 2-by-6 wood frame structure, SCHCC was designed as an Insulated Concret Forms (ICF) structure because the ICF supplier was able to meet with the building committee and architect during the conceptual stage. Whereas the focus of these discussions was the energy savings provided by ICFs, the Sauk County Board was even more impressed by the safe environment that concrete walls provide.
The ICF walls were constructed between October 2008 and February 2009, and everyone was rightly concerned about weather affecting the concrete—and therefore, the schedule. As a precaution, general contractor Kraemer Brothers, Plain, Wisconsin, constantly monitored the concrete temperature for the duration of the project. Although the average minimum outside temperature that winter was 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the ICF shell maintained a constant temperature with only construction heaters, and the temperature of the concrete walls never fell below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This impressed builders and also gave owners a glimpse of what the operating costs would be like when the building was operational.
The contractor only lost two workdays over the course of the project due to extreme temperatures that prevented concrete delivery. Kevin Kraemer, executive vice president, said they were able to complete the entire project a full 30 days ahead of schedule in spite of the cold, which he attributes to working with ICFs.
Owners needed a facility that would be low maintenance, cost effective, and versatile, but stand up to heavy use and last a long time. ICFs met all the criteria. And with their insulating abilities, they lowered the heating demands for the facility which, like cooling, is one of the largest operating expenses of any building. And since older occupants are more likely to be affected by temperature extremes, it’s important to moderate temperatures, keeping people both comfortable and safe.
Concrete is non-combustible and creates a safe place for residents with limited mobility, especially during times of emergencies. The material’s mass is also beneficial both for dampening sound and moderating temperatures. Sauk County Health Care Center facility managers say that residents are calmer and noticeably pleased with the quiet, peaceful environment that the ICF walls provide.
This single-story assisted living facility houses 305 total rooms, 82 of which are residential rooms/beds. The project took a little over one year to build, but, with solid concrete walls and exterior architectural finishes that include cement-based materials like Hardiboard™ and manufactured stone, the building is expected to last a long time and maintain its good looks.
Photos courtesy of Celblox/Cellox SaukHealthRE