Zero-Energy Schools: How Innovative Concrete Systems are Making It Possible

Sponsored by Build with Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association
1 AIA LU/HSW; 0.1 IACET CEU*; 1 AIBD P-CE; AAA 1 Structured Learning Hour; AANB 1 Hour of Core Learning; AAPEI 1 Structured Learning Hour; This course can be self-reported to the AIBC, as per their CE Guidelines.; MAA 1 Structured Learning Hour; NLAA 1 Hour of Core Learning; NSAA 1 Hour of Core Learning; NWTAA 1 Structured Learning Hour; OAA 1 Learning Hour; SAA 1 Hour of Core Learning

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify the principles and strategies behind zero-energy school design and construction.
  2. Discuss how innovative concrete systems such as insulated concrete forms (ICFs) contribute to energy-efficient and resilient buildings that protect the health, safety, and welfare of students.
  3. Assess how a combination of energy-efficiency strategies, high-performance building envelopes, and solar power is used to meet zero-energy criteria.
  4. Describe the contribution that concrete makes to safe and productive schools by providing energy-efficient, quiet, and resilient structures.

This course is part of the Concrete Academy

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Zero-energy schools are becoming more popular. High-performance envelopes using ICFs along with lower cost of renewable energy is making it possible. ICF systems result in construction that is faster, easier, and less labor intensive than other construction methods, making it possible to offset the cost of solar panels. ICF systems combine reinforced concrete with fire, sound, thermal, air, and moisture barriers in one step, which reduces the number of trades required on-site. Construction can continue all year long since the forms provide an ideal curing condition for concrete during the hottest and coldest weather.

All this leads to a construction system that is ideal to meet the demands of zero-energy buildings. ICFs create a modern building system that is easy to use and cost competitive. To find out more about ICF construction and concrete construction in general, visit and

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Originally published in May 2021