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Building Schools That Cover the 3 Rs: Resilient, Reliable and Real Nice on the Eyes

Tips to Secure School Construction Bids

By Angela San Martin, P.E., Sales and Business Development Manager, Metromont LLC

Angela San Martin

More than ever parents and municipalities require school structures to be a place that protects lives. As the Sales & Business Development Manager for Metromont, I’ve found educating designers, engineers, architects, and owners on the 3 Rs really puts them at the head of the class when it comes to landing that big construction contract.

Here is a quick cheat sheet of the 3 Rs of precast concrete: Resilient, Reliable, and Real nice on the eyes.


Environmental considerations are top of mind and concrete construction companies won’t be schooled when it comes to carbon neutrality and resiliency.


1. Highlight the resiliency of precast products.

Offering a product that is primarily made from natural resources, gives contractors and developers the upper edge when bidding municipalities. Not only are our products naturally sourced, often they are locally sourced as well. This allows structures to blend better with the natural landscape of the community and also pours money back into the area by financially supporting local vendors. Score bonus points by mentioning that this practice also reduces emissions that would have been produced by transportation vehicles hauling materials sourced farther away.

At Metromont we are always looking for ways to reduce carbon. Tapping into technology, innovative admixtures reduce cement usage while enhancing strength and durability. This means schools can choose a construction method that yields a significant carbon reduction while providing a better product.

Surprisingly, many bid seekers don’t realize how much the precast industry works to reduce, reuse, and recycle. For example, recycled steel is used in rebar and reinforcement elements. And material reduction is a standard practice for the industry as we work to reduce the thickness of products. For example, with brick being a desired façade for school exteriors, precast concrete offers a thin brick solution that provides its own sustainable features and improved insulation qualities. By casting a thin brick layer into the concrete walls, water absorption decreases to 5 – 8 percent compared with a full size brick with an absorption rate closer to 15 – 18 percent. Plus the walls are lighter in weight while still providing optimal strength.

2. Demonstrate how precast products remain reliable throughout its lifespan.

Structure lifecycle expectations are a big discussion right now. It’s not unthinkable to expect a 100-year lifespan from structures. Because precast concrete is made to exceed loads of 6000 psi, total precast structures will be as reliable decades from now as they are the day the first class bell rings.

Building owners can rely on precast structures to withstand the brute force of Mother Nature and that of her offspring learners who occupy the building. By requiring fewer joints, these structures provide greater resistance to water intrusion, therefore reducing the chance of a dangerous mold invasion into classrooms.

Secure your bid by demonstrating how precast protects life. It is inherently fire resistant, flood-resistant, and able to sustain wind loads up to 200 mph. Practically impenetrable to any projectile object, precast school structures make excellent tornado and hurricane shelters.

All project managers strive to meet deadlines, but no deadline is more important than the one that signals kiddos returning to school (just ask mom and dad!). When working towards securing that school project, point out the reliability of precast when it comes to receiving product on time.

Off-site, nationally certified precast concrete manufacturing processes help project managers save time and money by avoiding additional contracting of quality control agencies, by alleviating congested on-site trade flow coordination, and by averting construction delays caused by external factors that typically slow down other construction methods.

Project managers have the benefit of progress, even in the early stages, because precasters can produce wall panels and beams while other trades work concurrently onsite. Municipalities have the benefit of receiving better quality because products are manufactured in a controlled setting without the damaging effects of external factors.

Be sure to share that precast concrete products can provide a major decrease in utility costs. A case study by Georgia State University calculated a notable savings of 25% in utility bills just one year after employing precast products in their portfolio. Currently, the university experiences approximately a 40% adjusted savings annually.

Tucker High School – Total precast school

3. Promote the creative options that make precast concrete real nice on the eyes.

Of course, all this functionality can’t overtake the need for the building to look remarkable. Promote options that offer the aesthetic appeal architects love in a product that provides excellent efficiency and versatility.

Today’s school systems are being built with a little bit of flair and fabulousness and precast concrete – that’s right, we said concrete – lets architects and designers have their cake and eat it too when it comes to delicious designs.

Pass this note along when pitching your plans. Concrete design technology has come a long way.  Gone is the gray. Architects don’t have to be copycats, Metromont offers a variety of color shades and designs that promise to satisfy anyone’s aesthetic appetite.

If the decision-makers still aren’t quite sold, put your thinking cap on and explore with them the many designs, patterns, color options, and medallion choices that can be selected to produce a school that is not only resilient and reliable, but is also real nice on the eyes.

From energy efficiency to safety factors, durability to design … the 3Rs of precast concrete products provide protection, inspire community engagement, and fortify futures.

Angela Bio:

A member of the Metromont family and the precast industry since 2000, Angela San Martin’s career has included roles in engineering, project management, sales, and business development. Originally from Valley City, North Dakota, Angela attended Clemson University where she earned a BSCE and MSCE in Civil Engineering. Outside work, Angela loves triathlons, running, cycling, and traveling with her family in their RV.


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