Rocketship Nashville Elementary School threw open its brand-new doors in time for the 2014-15 school year for 450 new “rocketeers” —an affectionate regard for their students.

A non-profit charter school run by California-based Rocketship Education, Rocketship Elementary contains 37,000 square feet of space and was built on the site of an old car lot in the northeastern part of Tennessee’s state capital.

One of the more notable features about the building involves the school’s nod to space exploration. An image of a rocket ship was incorporated into the exterior of the school, which is clad in insulated metal panels.

The eye-catching IMPs—a combination of redwood, dove gray, regal white, and evergreen—were manufactured by Kingspan Insulated Panels, playing a critical role in the construction of the new kindergarten-through-fourth-grade facility. Aesthetics were just one of many benefits of specifying insulated metal panels.

D.F. Chase Construction was presented with an ambitious and unforgiving construction timeline of just six months between groundbreaking and move-in. The building needed to be enclosed quickly. Kingspan’s IMPs were an important part of meeting the build speed requirements for this project. IMPs are single-component wall systems that provide air/water and vapor barriers, insulation, and high thermal performance. This increases speed of build, minimizes delays and the need for multiple trades. They selected 2-inch thick Optimo and 300 R Striated panels for the project.

Wall Brothers Glass was the installer for the Rocketship project. Project Manager/estimator James Leverette noted, “The Company added wall panels to our repertoire seven years ago.”

“The lead time is shorter and they are easier to work with,” said Leverette on insulated metal panels.

The Many Benefits of IMPs

IMPs combine impressive R-values with low thermal bridging and airtightness. This drastically reduces energy consumption when compared to traditional built-up wall systems. The panels easily lock together, too, forming an airtight and weather tight seal.

Both Optimo and 300 R Striated panels offer an R-value of 7.5 per inch. Optimo comes in panel thicknesses from 2 inches to 4 inches, while 300 R Striated comes in panel thicknesses from 2 inches to 6 inches.

Leverette believes the three main benefits of specifying the panels are easy installation, R-values, and their ability to help meet qualifications for LEED status. “It was a great project,” he said.

Rocketship Elementary cost $7.8 million to construct, and was funded by Turner-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund. The funding group—which includes former tennis star Andre Agassi—invests in schools around the U.S. and collects rent money from its charter school partners. In addition to classroom space, Rocketship Elementary has a cafeteria, learning labs, playgrounds, and basketball courts.

“Natural light plays an important role in the project, and each space has access to exterior windows,” architecture firm, Manuel Zeitlin Architects, writes on its Web site. “The site includes three distinct play areas that can double as gardens and outdoor education spaces.”

Brad Kirkland, a regional sales manager with Kingspan, said the insulated metal panels serve as the exterior and interior finishes for the educational facility.

“The panels also allowed for maximum frame spacing, minimizing the visibility from inside the building,” he said. “The exposed framing on the inside was painted to serve as part of the interior design finish, giving the school a niche for shelving. Magnets were used to display work and arts and crafts on the wall panels.”

“The popularity of insulated metal panels is gaining traction in the educational construction industry for reasons beyond just performance,” said Kirkland. “Typically we see the IMPs used on schools primarily for R-value and sustainability. The aesthetically pleasing design has struck a trend within the educational facilities.”