IMP sells itself in Alaska

-By Sharon Thatcher-

One state where insulated metal panel is growing rapidly in popularity is Alaska, perhaps no surprise given the state’s exposure to extreme temperatures and wind.

The 49th state is also home to major military and cargo operations. The demand for strong and enduring energy-efficient buildings has paved the way for this new generation of materials.

Kingspan KingZip covers many roofs in Alaska, including a 65,000 square foot company operations facility at Fort Richardson.

Kingspan KingZip covers many roofs in Alaska, including a 65,000 square foot company operations facility at Fort Richardson.

Design-build consultant Ron Nordquist, president of Ron’s General Construction, Inc., Anchorage, is on the frontline of this new frontier. He works exclusively with Kinspan IMP utilizing a Varco Pruden steel frame.

Among the buildings he has helped bring from design to completion is a 65,000-square-foot company operations facility (COF) at Fort Richardson, referred to as FTR269 COF by the military.

“The roof is 6-inch KingZip standing seam,” Nordquist said, with 6-inch IMP walls. The building measures an overall width of 410 feet at the gabled portion, and includes a 32- by 390-feet extension in back with a tapered roof. 

The extension is surrounded by bird screen to keep swallows from nesting under the eaves. Extra support was needed to hold the panel on a 45 degree angle.  

“This is one sharp building,” Nordquist said. “The KingZip standing seam panel is a fantastic panel.”

Nordquist said that the first KingZip he recommended in Alaska was 2004 on a building at Fort Wainwright. The Army Corps of Engineers was so pleased that IMPs now predominate and KingZip adorns many of the Corps’ projects, with more in the planning stages.

“Insulated metal panels has kicked in full speed up here,” Nordquist maintains. “All of these [Army Corp of Engineer] buildings are energy-rated buildings. They’re all LEED Silver. Some of the buildings actually achieve LEED Gold ratings.”

Although the rating is achieved through a combination of materials, the high R-rating of IMP has become a highly desired part of the equation.

Erectors and installers like them for different reasons. “Installation is a one step process and they are done,” he said. “They can also be installed during inclement weather conditions, such as rain, snow and medium wind (20 mph). This can’t be done with any other roofing system.”

Nordquist has worked on IMP projects for everything from airplane hangers to fitness centers to office buildings.    

On his upcoming agenda is a Navy Seal training center on Kodiak Island. “That has 5-inch insulated panels with 6-inch KingZip roof panels,” he said. “And I have projects on the North Slope in the oil field, two buildings for Exxon Mobile that are going to have standing seam roofs and insulated metal panel walls. And on the other end of Alaska, on the Aleutian Islands, this coming spring there’s two buildings going up in Unalaska.”

The Unalaska project is a water treatment plant that must be designed for very high winds. A typical building there would require a 165-D wind rating. “The D rating means it’s completely exposed, there’s absolutely not a tree or anything to block the wind from absolutely slamming into this building,” Nordquist explains. But because the water treatment plant is considered an essential building the measurements will be multiplied by 1.15, meaning the building must be rated for 189.5 wind speeds.

“This panel [KingZip] is the only panel I know of that will withstand that kind of wind,” he said.


All -new building techniques take time to become mainstream. “There’s a learning curve,” Nordquist describes. “A lot of guys are naive about IMP. They’ve heard they’re super-expensive. Well, they are more expensive than some of the lesser systems, but bottom line the other systems are lesser systems, and depending on building location, the extra cost is zeroed out in seven to nine years due to energy savings. After that, the building owner is actually gaining money by continued energy savings. In many places in Alaska that return starts sooner than seven to nine years.

 “A lot of people are in these buildings for the long haul,” he continues. “The military are looking for a 50 year lifespan for their buildings and the IMP will be there for 50 years and still performing the same as day one.”

Although a Cadillac system now, Nordquist believes it’s only a matter of time before the popularity of IMP moves to the Lower 48. “Everybody is gravitating towards insulated metal panels to meet the new energy codes that all the states are starting to adopt,” he observes. “It’s going to be a big thing.” MR

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