In the preliminary planning stages of a new project, industry professionals are challenged to consider all aspects of construction, including cost-effectiveness, sustainability, security, safety, comfort, accessibility, functionality, serviceability, and aesthetics. One of the most important considerations is how well the structure will resist and contain fire.
The degree of fire resistance required depends on the intended use and occupancy of the building, in addition to its proximity to property lines and established fire zones. Multipurpose or multi-occupancy buildings, such as apartments, schools, warehouses, and hospitals, require a higher level of fire resistance and containment.
In the event of a fire, insulated sandwich walls protect people and their possessions and the structure itself. Prestressed concrete is inherently non-combustible and effective in containing fire. As a separation wall, concrete prevents fire spread throughout multipurpose buildings or between structures. The fire resistance of prestressed concrete walls is determined by the American Society for Testing & Materials E119, which defines the procedures and determines the fire endurance of building materials. Concrete cover, specified in ACI 318 for durability, is sufficient for fire ratings up to four hours. The durability of the wall depends on its thickness and aggregate type, which can be customized during production.
Insulated sandwich walls contain a layer of insulation that is sandwiched between two layers of prestressed concrete. This layer provides superior insulation, lowering heating and cooling costs, and eliminates the release of toxic fumes as it is completely encased in concrete.
Further increasing safety, insulated sandwich walls can be load-bearing or supporting. Wall panels are an inherently resilient material with resistance to fire, wind, and blasts. These safety advantages often result in lower insurance rates.
High-performance insulated sandwich walls provide an array of benefits, including longevity, low maintenance, and energy efficiency, and remain one of the best options for fire resistance and containment.