Metal buildings offer long-term energy solution

Although these are precarious times, we who are involved in steel construction remain confident in the quality and longevity of the industry. Yes, steel prices have been on the rise. But, this is a storm we’ve weathered before in years past.

Costs and pricing have changed with the times; the issues remain the same.

Today, although we’re challenged by global forces that impact the cost of steel and other materials, the metal building manufacturing industry has never been in a better position. Our ability to deliver custom solutions that create energy savings and build long-term value makes metal building systems the most nimble and adaptable form of low-rise building construction.

This is not rhetoric.  It’s based on fact.

Construction technology for metal building systems has proven to be better than any other. Every building is a custom-designed and engineered steel structure.  Once the building is designed and detailed, computerized instructions are sent to the fabrication plant where steel members are cut to exact standards for the specific application.

This is in contrast to conventional buildings that are hindered by the need to use pre-sized structural members. Custom manufacturing means that there is no waste.  Structural elements are cut with state-of-the-art equipment so every piece fits precisely.

Saving time, cutting waste

That means there is rarely down time or product waste. The industry has evolved to a point where it can produce intricate structures and tackle nearly any low rise building configuration.

This is evidenced in every American city. Whether it’s a small town Dollar General, a mid-size city church or car dealership, or a big city shopping mall or theater, the buildings are different, but their components are produced by the same quality manufacturers.

Along streets and highways, there are restaurants, furniture stores, auto repair shops, fitness centers, day cares, hotels, and strip centers that may not look like steel structures. Dressed up in facades of masonry, brick, tilt-up, ornamental metal or stucco, they are metal building systems through and through.

The complexity available through metal building systems totally dispels the outdated notion of metal buildings as a tin box industry. It’s not your father’s metal building.

The industry has matured into a very sophisticated building market. Each is custom designed for individual loads and tailored for specific needs. Like an erector set, methods and processes allow the custom design of every piece of steel that goes into the building.

The bottom line is clear: Less steel is used, less design time is needed and less abuse of the environment occurs because waste simply does not exist. 

Environmentally enriching life

Life cycle savings for metal building systems is phenomenal when compared to conventional structures. Developers are beginning to look beyond buildings as 15- to 20-year investments. Because of metal building systems’ permanence, durability, stability and quality, developers can look at 50 to 100-year lifecycles. This is a new paradigm that offers great potential for building owners.

Then there are roofs. Metal roofing materials are recycled and recyclable, last for decades and require no more maintenance than an occasional removal of debris. Special coatings enhance their value, reflect sunshine away from sun-drenched buildings and cut energy costs by double digits and more.

Conventional roofs are replaced every 15-20 years, require substantial yearly maintenance expenses and eventually wind up filling landfills with potentially toxic trash. Metal roofs last far beyond, with little maintenance and are 100 percent recyclable. 

In addition, metal buildings are easily insulated which also helps to lower overall heating and cooling costs.

Leave a legacy

Today, some developers and owners consider metal building systems the perfect building product. One reason is that metal is also clearly the preferred material to meet the global green initiative. Fifty to 60 percent of all steel is recycled. In addition, 35 percent of steel used in buildings comes from recycled product.
 Green is the dominant driver for cost processes. It is a great value when you look at the long life of the material, its maintenance-free composition and ability to reduce energy use and support sustainability.

We are responsible to leave a legacy for future generations through energy-saving and value-efficient buildings that are enduring spaces to live, work, worship and create — structures that will stand strong for many years to come.

When you build, think about the environment you will leave behind and the impact of your legacy

Keith E. Fischer is chairperson of Metal Building Manufacturers Association.

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