Concrete in various forms has been used for thousands of years. Today, precast concrete is a widely used modern method of construction, benefiting from the quality control a factory environment can provide. Precast provides a quiet, comfortable, safe and durable environment for occupants.
The benefits of precast concrete can be best described under the following attributes:
- Thermal Mass – Thermal mass is concrete’s ability to absorb and hold heat and to release it in a controlled way, thus smoothing out the temperature variations within the building over a 24-hour cycle and throughout the year. This thermal stability provides a more consistent internal environment, reduces the required heating loads and associated CO2 consumption over time. It also reduces the energy costs of buildings due to reduced energy consumption.
- Acoustic Isolation Performance- Precast concrete has an excellent acoustic performance. It has the inherent mass, stiffness and damping properties necessary to effectively reduce the transmission of both airborne and impact sound. Concrete has the highest damping properties of any structural material, reducing the reliance on additional finishes and simplifies design and detailing. This leads to a reduction in the labour, time and costs associated with these finishes and detailing.
- Flood Resilience – Precast concrete has excellent flood resilience, maintaining its structural integrity during a flood event. Its density resists water penetration, reducing the impact of a floor on the fabric of the building, providing building owners and insurance companies with reduced repair time and costs associated with repairing flood damage. For occupiers, time away from the property is reduced. Precast concrete is the ideal solution when building in areas at potential risk from flooding.
- Speed of Construction- The nature of off-site construction methods ensures buildings can be erected quickly, even in adverse weather conditions, drastically reducing construction time and associated costs.
- Durability – Precast concrete offers exceptional durability and long life in any structure. Concrete structures built over 100 years ago are still in active service today, which results in the time scale for replacing a precast concrete building being up to twice that of other forms of construction. Coupled this with the energy efficiencies that thermal mass brings means that precast concrete has low whole life cycle emissions when compared to other forms of construction. This longevity reduces disruption to the occupants and minimises breaks in any rental income stream for the building owners.
- Robustness / Security – The use of precast concrete creates a robust structure that reduces the risk of damage to finishes and gives a sense of security not necessarily felt in a lightweight building. Couple this with the reduced use of plasterboard we create a living space that can resist the wear and tear of everyday life, keeping repair and maintenance costs down, year after year.
- Fire Resistance – Precast concrete is non-combustible. It does not add any fuel to a fire, help it to spread or produce any smoke or toxic gas. It maintains its structural integrity long after steel or timber structures have failed and can be repaired following a fire. The risk of fire during and following construction is reduced, and if a fire occurs, the effects are likely to be less significant in terms of repair/replacement, greatly reducing the financial impact for the contractor/developer, building owner and insurance companies. Occupiers can have greater confidence that the building they are living or working in offers them better protection against fire, and could be seen by the contractor/developer as an aid to sales.