Thursday, January 10, 2013

Top Concrete Contractors Join TeamPolycrete

Always on the prowl for new installers who can advance our mission to make it easy to design, build and own energy efficient buildings that stand up to Mother Nature, we've recently added two big dogs and one rising star.

Century Concrete, headquartered in Virginia Beach, serves the Richmond area from its Ashland location and Northern VA from Manassas. Led by Preston White, Century is one of Virginia’s most highly respected concrete contractors and has now added Polycrete ICF installation to its service offering.

The Burke Family has a long history of concrete construction in the Maryland and DC area. Brian Burke of Burke Concrete Construction has been an advocate of ICF construction for many years and developed a green construction division in 2009 to focus on ICF installation.

Jason Carey, owner of Hamptons ICF in Sag Harbor, New York is a native New Zealander. He’s built both residential and commercial in New Zealand, France, Switzerland and the US since 1990. Jason is also a Cuisine Professional who designs and builds world class restaurants and kitchens. These days, he’s a leading ICF installation contractor in Eastern Long Island and works in NYC as well.

Access PolycreteUSA’s Complete installer list.   



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

K-12 Building That Generates Cash? Go Figure...

The Nation’s first net zero energy school was the subject of an article in Forbes recently because it just got its first full annual electric bill… errr, check. Yep, that’s right, after a full year in service, Richardsville Elementary School was paid $37,227 for the energy it delivered to the local electric utility.

If you were asked to guess where Richardsville Elementary School  is located, you might suggest California, Massachusetts, or Vermont -- where Prius ownership is highest and the politics bluest. Well, the answer’s nope, nope and nope. Richardsville’s in that red state of Kentucky.

Yes, Kentucky. Where the grass may be blue but the politics are red. Where coal is king, electric costs are the fourth lowest in the nation, and energy efficiency innovations yield taxpayers $3.3 Million in annual avoided costs.

You might ask what it means to be “Net Zero Energy”. It means that the building generates all the energy it needs (or more) to operate using various passive and active strategies like solar, wind, geothermal, etc. Public utilities are usually required to buy any excess energy generated from alternative energy producers hooked up to their grid and hence the check instead of a bill.

Typical annual energy costs for K-12 schools in the US are $1.25 per square foot. At 77,466 square feet, Richardsville earned almost 48¢ per square foot. In a state like Virginia, where average electric costs are 12.5¢/Kwh, that would translate to almost 75¢ per square foot or $58,100 per year in earnings and $155,000 in annual avoided costs. Assuming an interest rate of 3% and no increases in energy costs, that works out to more than $3 million saved over the expected life of the building.

You’re probably thinking that it costs a fortune to build such an efficient building and the up-front investment won’t stand up to economic analysis. You’d be wrong, though.

According to the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, a program of the National Institute for Building Sciences, average Elementary School  construction cost in the US in 2010 was  $190 per square foot, and Richardsville came in at $156.

Part of the reason for the affordable construction costs is that it’s built with insulated concrete form technology. ICFs like Polycrete® Big Block™ are a very cost effective strategy for achieving high insulation value in walls and that allows downsizing of HVAC systems. ICF technology also adds of lot of other cost-saving attributes. A key to making the overall economic model of a net zero energy building work is controlling the costs of construction.

How does something like this happen? Well certainly not overnight. It took careful design and planning over a decade. Now, nearly all twenty-one schools in Kentucky's Warren County meet Energy Star certification. That accomplishment has resulted in more than $5 million in avoided energy costs to date. Real dollars that taxpayers did not have to shell out.

Richardsville’s Net Zero accomplishment is a result of its innovative building design. Although it’s  a typical school with classrooms, gym, cafeteria and such, many features are unique. Everything from the heating and cooling system to the lights work with sensors that automatically determine appropriate light and temperature levels and then make adjustments.

Most schools in the US operate at 73kBtus per square foot. The average Warren County Kentucky school uses 40.  In 2007, Warren County built Plano Elementary School to use 28. As it continued to work with its crack team of architects and engineers, it leveraged the lessons learned from Plano to design Richardsville to operate at 18 kBtus per sqft.  That’s less than 25% of the average school’s energy usage.

In 2008, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear launched “Intelligent Energy Choices for Kentucky’s Future, Kentucky’s Seven Point Strategy for Energy Independence.” Despite that Kentucky is the nation’s 3rd largest coal producer, the commonwealth's governing team introduced this far-sighted and ambitious program that's paying off in real dollars. 

It’s an oft repeated proverb that the cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use, but opponents of net zero insist it’s just a theory that won’t work in the real world. The Net Zero model that Richardsville Elementary’s design team pioneered has blown up that argument once and for all.

Imagine how net zero schools and government buildings will reduce the pressures on state and local budgets. Elimination of energy costs will free up funds for more teachers or other educational resources. Now that Richardsville’s proven the net zero model, we can feel comfortable repeating it for all new school construction. Our students and taxpayers deserve it.

For information on building your net zero design team, please call or email Bruce Anderson, PolycreteUSA 1-800-570-4313

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sandy Resource Update: Design Assistance and Funding Sources

In our never-ending effort to keep you up to date on Sandy rebuilding developments, you should know that we just revised the Sandy Resources on We added a comprehensive list of licensed New Jersey Architects who are qualified to design your rebuilding project to stand up to Mother Nature with Polycrete ICFs.
We also want to let you know that Bank of America and Provident Bank are helping to make low interest loans available to small businesses hammered by Hurricane Sandy. 

They’ve made a combined $2.25 Million available to a number of Community Development Financial Institutions in New York and New Jersey. These 
CDFI loans are not huge, but they're designed to get your business back on its feet quickly. The loans are fast and affordable.  

According to a report from NJBiz,  Bank of America has made $2 million available to CDFIs at zero interest, and the CDFIs are loaning it out at 3% or so. Provident Bank Foundation is making $250,000 available to the CDFIs and is also making grants of up to $25,000 to organizations providing relief to small businesses.

Community Development Financial Institutions provide credit and financial services to underserved markets and populations. CDFIs are certified by the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund from the US Treasury Department. CDFIs are funded by the US Treasury, banks, private investors and non-profit organizations.

Here’s a list of CDFIs in this program and the contact information to get you started.

Organization (CDFI)
Accion USA
Phone: 866-245-0783

Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE)
Phone: 212-979-8988

Cooperative Business Assistance Corporation (CBAC)
Phone: 856-966-8181 

CDC of Long Island
Phone: 631-471-1215

New Jersey Community Capital

Enterprise Community Partners
Phone: 212-284-7121

Grow America Fund

Phone: 212-455-9800

Low Income Investment Fund
Phone: 212-509-5509

New York Business Development Corp
Phone 800-923-2504

Nonprofit Finance Fund
Phone: 212-868-6710
Phone: 973-642-2500

Renaissance EDC
Phone: 212-964-6022

Phone: 908-527-1166

Please call our experts with your questions -- Basic or technical. We know what you're dealing with, and we want to make it as easy for you as possible. If we don't have the answer, we'll find someone who does. 1-800-570-4313

Coming very soon is a list of AIA Architects in New York who are willing and able to design your Polycrete rebuild and general contractors across the region who can build with Polycrete Insulated Concrete Forms and give you a fair deal.

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