Following the construction industry and related legal topics in the United States.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Senior Living -- What's In a Wall?

The need for senior housing in the United States is set to explode in coming years as the population ages. But how much attention is being paid to design and construction specifically for senior living?

A few years ago, Eric Hubbs published an article entitled "If Walls Could Talk -- Design and Construction of Senior-Living Projects" (Nursing Homes, June 2003). He touted the use of insulated concrete form (ICF) for exterior walls as the best choice for senior living, for these reasons:

  • Being more sensitive to heat and cold, seniors need a constant and evenly distributed temperature --- in particular, free from drafts and cold spots. ICF walls consist of concrete mass surrounded by foam, slowing thermal transfer.
  • Noise frequently distresses seniors --- they do best in a quiet and peaceful environment free from cacophony. ICF walls have a much higher sound transmission coefficient (STC) than wood and steel-framed walls, making them much more resistant to outside noises.
  • Seniors are typically aware of their vulnerability and seek a living space where they are safe and well-protected, both from natural disasters and from intruders. ICF walls are naturally fire-resistant and provide a natural barrier to forced entry.

For an example of senior condominiums in Wisconsin that were built with ICF walls last year, click here.

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