AIA Economist Bullish on Nonresidential Construction Activity

By: Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association

Kermit Baker, AIAKermit Baker, chief economist for the American Institute of Architects in Washington, DC, told attendees at the recent MCA Annual Meeting in Clearwater Beach, FL, that although nonresidential construction has been slow to recover from a steep downturn in 2013, several emerging signs point to increased activity throughout 2014.

As a guest speaker at the January meeting, Baker noted several leading economic indicators that point to an improving economy, including that housing starts have accelerated in recent months and that house prices, which continue to recover, have gained back more than 40% of their losses. He also said that net household growth has been dominated by renters in recent years, pushing down the rate of ownership.

“The housing recovery is well underway, but production levels are still below long-term potential,” Baker said, adding that a rate of 1.6–1.8 million housing starts per year is still years away.

Despite the positive market fundamentals, there have been modest gains in spending on nonresidential buildings, Baker said. He noted that the nonresidential construction sector faces several challenges and opportunities, including that recovery to date remains modest, with little improvement over past year; commercial property values are recovering “nicely”; and real estate market fundamentals, such as vacancies and rents, remain positive for most commercial market segments.

Meanwhile, architecture billings point to emerging upturn in nonresidential building activity. “Even with slowdown toward the end of last year architecture billings are in the midst of an upturn, with the strongest growth since the recession began,” Baker said.

Baker added that construction spending should see solid single-digit growth in 2014, with recovery continuing into 2015.

Plans for the MCA Summer Meeting, set for June 23–25 at the Westin O’Hare in Rosemont, IL, are underway. Online hotel reservations and a preliminary program schedule are now available. For more information, visit the Events page on the MCA website.

A look at, and beyond, HPDs

By: Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association

Jim HoffIn a recent webinar, Dr. Jim Hoff of the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing noted several benefits and limitations of the Health Product Declaration (HPD), and even looked beyond it to newer alternative documents.

Hoff said that on the upside, the HPD document itself is relatively simple and straightforward— “it looks like a Material Safety Data Sheet (SDS),” —and is inexpensive, especially compared to Environmental Product Declarations. Still, he noted the HPD

  • uses little or no formal consensus review. “As a building envelope researcher and a longtime participant in standards processes throughout the world, I believe it certainly is a limitation to have a development process that is an ad-hoc process, developed outside a recognized consensus standard,” he said. “The development process does not include all stakeholders that are typically included in ANSI and ASTM processes. For example, building material manufacturers are not included in specific decision-making committees,” he said.
  • identifies hazard without assessing risk.
  • identifies chemicals of concern using many different sources with varying thresholds. Hoff cited examples of hazard warnings, such as the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of known or likely carcinogen, but also pointed to what he considers “less authoritative” warnings. For example, “California Proposition 65 includes many chemicals hazardous only as precursors or during manufacturing,” he said.  “When you’re looking at materials that are key ingredients in many common roofing materials [i.e., titanium dioxide, carbon black, wood dust, and bitumen], they are not generally considered to be hazardous in their finished form.”

Other newer alternative documents may offer better information, he said. “There is a whole new generation of MSDSs that are starting in 2014 that are based on a very, very rigorous, globally harmonized system, now endorsed through international treaties and endorsed and integrated by  the U.S. EPA.” The new SDSs offer hazard information in a very similar methodology to HPDs and will be available much more rapidly, he said.

Another new product is the Product Transparency Declaration (PTD), which addresses risk as well as hazard assessment. “PTDs take a look at threshold levels and paths for exposure that are important in many products,” he said. Developed by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute and submitted  to become an ASTM standard, the PTD could be available to a wide variety of products, Hoff said.

Meanwhile, Hoff stressed that HPDs are included in LEED v4 and are likely to be proposed for next version of International Green Construction Code. As such, he calls on material suppliers to

  • be proactive and engaged.
  • develop a uniform approach and promote industry-wide initiatives to develop consistent reporting.
  • use the Notes section of HPDs to explain or tell the whole story of their products.
  • promote alternatives to HPDs that include risk assessment in addition to hazard identification.

For more information, contact Dr. Jim Hoff jhoff@roofingcenter.org.

Metal Construction Highlights: Las Vegas Edition

Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health,
Las Vegas

By: John Ryan, Metal Construction Association

I’m getting ready to head to Las Vegas next week for the International Roofing Expo. I have to admit, I’m excited. Believe it or not (and most do not), I’ve never been to Las Vegas.

There’s no doubt that most of my time will be spent within the concrete walls of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center manning the Metal Construction Association (MCA) booth (booth #2143–stop by to say hello!), but I am looking forward to exploring the sights and sounds of Las Vegas.

One thing I always try to do before I travel to a new city for business is scope out some architectural highlights to visit. And since I work for MCA, I admit that I am always looking for real-life examples of metal construction.

Here are a few examples of metal roofs and walls that I plan to see while in Las Vegas. Feel free to let us know what your favorites are!

McCarran International Airport, featuring Alucobond Plus
Alcoa Reynobond - Terminal 3 Parking Garage

McCarran International Airport

I won’t have to wait long to see an example of metal construction after touching down in Las Vegas–the McCarran International Airport recently completed an expansion project that featured Alucobond Plus metal composite material (MCM) panels from 3A Composites.

The Terminal 3 parking garage also features metal wall panels: Reynobond aluminum MCM panels from Alcoa. I’m sure the airport won’t be the most exciting part of my stay in Las Vegas, but the metal cladding will at least give me reason for pause at the airport.

The D Casino

The D Casino, Petersen AluminumAfter a long day on the convention center floor manning the MCA booth, I can usually be found enjoying a quiet meal and catching up on e-mails back in my hotel room. But Las Vegas is all about the casinos, so I am sure I will venture into a casino or two at some point during the week. Why not try my luck with the one-armed bandits at The D Casino in downtown Las Vegas, which sports a new, metal-clad entrance from Petersen Aluminum? I’m looking forward to walking the strip–and I understand it is a long walk– to see the impressive architecture of the casinos. The over-the-top extravagance and grandiose resorts should serve as a not-so-subtle reminder that the odds are not in my favor for a big payday!

Downtown Container Park

Downtown Container ParkLas Vegas isn’t all casinos, glitz and glamor–there is plenty for families to do and enjoy. Even though my family won’t be traveling with me, I plan to check out the Downtown Container Park for some shopping and dining. It’s located away from the main strip on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. It’s just what it sounds like–a park and shopping center crafted from shipping containers. Architects and designers are finding new ways to utilize old shipping containers as structures, and this project reminds me of one of MCA’s 2012 Chairman’s Award Winners that also features shipping containers.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Las Vegas Motor Speedway, featuring Centria IMPsAnd if I feel the need for speed, perhaps I will make my way over to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Even though the speedway’s NASCAR weekend events won’t be until the first week of March, it may be worth a quick visit to check out the exterior  since it is clad in Centria’s Formawall insulated metal panels.

Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health

Designed by esteemed architect Frank Gehry, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health (pictured at the top of this blog post) is a national resource for research and treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s Diseases, Multiple Sclerosis and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). While the design of the building has been a lightning rod for both praise and criticism, the important work being done within the stainless-steel clad walls is what’s most important.

Let us know if you have any other recommendations for Las Vegas architectural highlights. And if you are at the IRE show, we hope you will stop by the MCA booth–as well as our member’s booths–to say hello and learn about the many benefits of metal roofing.

Visit MCA at the International Roofing Expo in Las Vegas

MCA Exhibits at IREWe’re excited to be heading to Las Vegas next week for the International Roofing Expo (IRE). If you’re at the show, we hope you’ll stop by and visit us in booth #2341. We’ll be at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas from Wednesday, February 26 through Friday, February 28. We’d enjoy meeting you, and look forward to answering any questions you might have about metal roofing.

Many MCA members will also be exhibiting at IRE next week, as well. Stop by their booths to see the exciting products and services that they offer.

Exhibitor Name                             Member Category                               Booth Number
ABC Supply Co., Inc.                    Distributor                                            1423
Arkema, Inc.                                  Manufacturer                                       562
ATAS International, Inc.                Manufacturer                                       2242
BASF Corporation                        Insulation Mfr                                       925
Drexel Metals                               Distributor                                             2437
Englert, Inc.                                   Manufacturer                                       1037
Fabral                                            Manufacturer                                       2135
Firestone Building Products        Manufacturer                                       1813
GSSI Sealants, Inc.                       Accessories                                         2154
MBCI                                             Manufacturer                                       2121
McElroy Metal                              Manufacturer                                       2349
Metal Construction News            Publication                                          2336
Metal Roofing Magazine              Publication                                          2141
Metal Sales Manufacturing         Manufacturer                                       2127
Metalforming, Inc.                        Equipment Mfr                                     1436
Petersen Aluminum Corp.           Manufacturer                                       842
RHEINZINK America, Inc.            Distributor                                            1722
Roof Hugger                                Accessories                                          742
SFS intec, Inc.                              Accessories                                          1727
Sheffield Metals International    Distributor                                             2259
TAMKO Building Products, Inc.  Manufacturer                                        525
Triangle Fastener Corporation   Accessories                                         2131

We hope to see you in Las Vegas!

How EPDs Will Impact the Building Envelope

MCA's Insulated Metal Panel EPD
MCA’s Insulated Metal Panel EPD

By: Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association

Transparency is a common theme in design and construction these days, and product disclosure is quickly becoming a key issue for the building materials industry. Increasingly, Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are being required by designers and specifiers, and the findings of these reports are playing a more prominent role in how materials are chosen for projects.

Earlier this week, Dr. Jim Hoff of the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing discussed several tools for product disclosure, including EPDs, in a webinar featured by Architectural Roofing & Waterproofing magazine.

Speaking primarily to material manufacturers and building designers, Hoff noted that the concept of product disclosure is moving very rapidly into the construction marketplace and is being driven by several market forces, including the green-building press, green data aggregators, and by leading architecture-engineering firms that are participating in a disclosure campaign.

Product disclosure continues to emerge in building standards and codes as well, including LEED, ASHRAE 189.1, and the International Green Construction Code. “Although the concept of disclosure is relatively new, material disclosure has or will be adopted in every major green building standard and code, and it is being introduced at almost at an unprecedented pace,” he said. Hoff explained that EPDs help disclose well known environmental impacts (i.e., global warming and ozone depletion) using established metrics and standardized processes. “It’s a very quantifiable process based on good science,” he said. He further emphasized that EPDs use a well vetted, standardized format based on global ISO consensus standards and a scientific approach over the entire product life cycle. They also provide quantitative measures of key environmental impacts.

“Of course these benefits come at a certain price,” he said. “In fact, price itself is a primary limitation of EPDs today. In my consulting practice, I’ve been involved in the development of several Life Cycle Assessments and EPDs. The order of magnitude for a typical roofing material could easily be in the six figures by the time all is said and done.” He further noted that EPDs

  • are complicated.
  • pose difficulties in integrating products with varying service lives.
  • fail to address energy efficiency contributions. “When you’re looking at the environment impacts of thermal insulation or a cool roofing membrane, you [may] not be looking at environment contributions of those products, which could offset many of those impacts.”
  • fail to address health impacts. “EPDs today primarily address measurements of environment burden, but they do not specifically and are currently not designed to address the potential for health and safety burdens of materials.”

There are also challenges with limited underlying data, which may lead different practitioners to obtain different results.

Hoff encourages material suppliers to consider jointly developing generic EPDs for key industry product segments. “I think there’s a real value in that,” he said. “First, you’ll learn a lot more about the process yourself and, secondly, you’ll be able to provide much broader information that can be very helpful in the marketplace.” Then, he said, get the information to data integrators, but first make sure you are using the best information available.

The Metal Construction Association (MCA) recently compiled data from multiple manufacturers to publish an EPD for insulated metal panels (the full report and an executive summary are available on MCA’s website). MCA is putting the finishing touches on EPDs for single skin panels as well as metal composite panels.

Overall, “increased product transparency is good because it provides a better understanding of ingredients and supply chain impacts and a strong incentive for continuous improvement,” Hoff said. But, he adds, comparisons among products will remain difficult and unpredictable. Risks include overlooking important factors and trade-offs, and arbitrarily excluding excellent products and suppliers.

Hoff’s comments on Health Product Declarations will be featured in an upcoming blog. For questions on EPDs, contact Dr. Hoff at jhoff@roofingcenter.org.

In a Green World, Distinguishing New Metal Roofs from Old is Hard

St. Catherine’s Church, in Reutlingen, Germany

By: Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association

We may know the start of 2014 down to the exact second, but the lines between old and new metal design and building materials will continue to blur well into the New Year and beyond. Here are two examples of how metal manufacturers are helping to redefine the true age of metal roofs in a green world.

First, let’s look to Europe where 100-year-old zinc roofs are commonplace, and in particular, at the recently renovated 120-year-old zinc roof on St. Catherine’s Church in Reutlingen, Germany. This roof restoration called for dismantling and removing all the zinc tiles from the roof in order to inspect, clean, and salvage as many as possible. Tiles that were too damaged for reuse were recycled, but inspectors found  the tiles that were not exposed to the main west-facing wind and weather were nearly all reusable. The remaining roof was re-clad with RHEINZINK  0.7mm square tiles, using 1,500 PrePATINA blue-grey 330mm x 330mm tiles.

Located at the old cemetery, the Gothic Revival-style church is now preserved to its original state, circa 1890. RHEINZINK says that with the service life of zinc products expected to last 80–100 years for roofs and 200–300 years for walls, the roof tiles will be around for New Year celebrations for generations.

“When our client said ‘give me a roof that I will never have to replace,’ we thought metal immediately,” said Nathan Kipnis, AIA.

Stateside, a new LEED Platinum home in Glencoe, IL, features an unusual look for a LEED home—traditional rather than modernist design, allowing the home to complement its neighborhood. The standing seam metal roof was a key element of the sustainable design. About 600 sq ft of 24-gauge PAC-CLAD  material from Petersen Aluminum, Elk Grove Village, IL was used. The Silver Metallic Kynar 500 coating offers high reflectivity and SRI (solar reflectance index) ratings and is Energy Star approved.

Private Residence, Glencoe, IL

The roof provides many green features. Its shape is asymmetrically arranged to collect as much storm water as possible. It is also sloped at two different angles—a summer and a winter angle. The steeper, south facing roof supports solar thermal panels, which are optimal for the low winter sun. The shallower south facing section of the roof includes solar PV panels, which maximize electrical production during hot summer days.

“When our client said ‘give me a roof that I will never have to replace,’ we thought metal immediately,” said Nathan Kipnis, AIA, principal of Kipnis Architecture and Planning, Evanston, IL. Meanwhile, general contractor, Scott Simpson, president of Scott Simpson Builders in Northbrook, IL, says that, beyond this project, he recently used an old metal barn roof on the interior walls of a renovated—and much beloved—bakery in Evanston.

Five of Our Favorite Haunted Buildings

The Maitland Residence from Beetle Juice

By: John Ryan, Metal Construction Association

We’re getting in the Halloween spirit here at Metal Construction Association, and we’ve found  some fun lists of the most haunted places. But we thought we would put our own spin on putting together a list of haunted places: the top five haunted places with metal roofs!

Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods, NH
  1. Mount Washington Resort – This elaborate Bretton Woods, NH hotel–with its distinctive red metal roof–opened in 1902 and is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Carolyn Stickney, the widow of the hotel’s original owner. According to legend, caretakers have sighted the ghost of Mrs. Stickney descending stairs and switching lights on and off.
  2. Beetle Juice House – This fictional home from the film Beetle Juice is the setting of the 1980′s classic horror/comdedy movie starring Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis. The home, which played a central role in the film, featured a white standing seam metal roof before and after the garish renovation that irked the recently-departed owners.

    The Tower of London
  3. Tower of London – The tower, one of the most famous landmarks in London for almost 1,000 years, has no shortage of alleged hauntings. Perhaps the most famous ghost thought to reside in the tower is the spirit of Ann Boleyn, a wife of Henry VIII who was behaded in the tower in 1536. The tower’s lead roof has helped the structure survive more than nine centuries, though lead roofs are no longer commonplace for obvious reasons.

    Private Residence, Quitman, AR
  4. Quitman, AR Residence – This turn-of-the-century victorian house that features a striking metal roof went on the market in 2012, and was marketed as having a “friendly” paranormal presence. Previous owners and visitors reported more disturbing happenings, but the most recent owner claims to have had minimal interruption.

    The Dominion Building, Vancouver, CA
  5. The Dominion Building – This Vancouver, Canada building, completed in 1909, features a mansard roof made of metal. The building is said to be haunted by the architect, John Helyer, who is rumored to have fallen to have fallen to his death when the building was opened. This has been dispelled as myth, but many report hearing his steps in the stairway.

We hope you’ve had a little fun with our twist on a list of favorite haunted buildings. Have a happy Halloween!

New Environmental Product Declaration for IMPs

By: Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association

An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for insulated metal panels (IMPs) is now available from MCA.

EPDs provide life-cycle assessment information and details about the product’s environmental impact (i.e., raw-material extraction, transportation, packaging, and disposal).  As such, EPDs assist purchasers and users in making informed comparisons among products.

“With the recent approval of LEED v4 rating system, we expect to see more members of the design community looking for EPDs as part of an overall emphasis on transparency,” notes MCA Technical Director Scott Kriner.  “The EPD for IMPs is based on the life-cycle assessment of this product category. It is a major step forward for the metal construction industry in reporting the environmental impact of IMPs.”

IMPs are composed  of rigid foam that is sandwiched between two sheets of coated metal. Their steel or aluminum panel facings create a vapor, air, and moisture barrier that provide long-term thermal stability. According to MCA-member manufacturers, IMPs

  • offer long-term durability
  • come in a multitude of colors and finishes
  • offer cost-competitive construction advantages and long-term high performance to help lower operating costs for building owners in any construction market.

Download the full EPD report, or review the executive summary, to learn more about the environmental aspects of IMPs.

Is It a Sign or Cool Stadium Façade?

Regions Field, Birmingham, AL

By: Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association

Technically speaking, it’s a façade. But either way, this eye-catching western exterior of Regions Field in Birmingham, AL, sends a clear message of civic pride to passersby, locals and visitors alike, who are driving along a nearby elevated highway.

The city has reason to be proud. First, its new minor-league stadium, clad in metal by CENTRIA, was named Ballpark of the Year by Baseballparks.com.  Second, the Birmingham Barons Double-A baseball club just capped off its inaugural season in the new ballpark by winning its division title.

According to an upcoming feature article in Metalmag, available mid November, the towering letters are cut with a unique, inside-out effect. Upper panels were cut to outside parameters; lower panels were cut to the inside parameters. CENTRIA’s EcoScreen® perforated screenwall helps limit sunlight exposure to the interior and creates an interesting aesthetic effect.

Birmingham baseball fans love the façade, of course.

Other design elements of the 245,000-sq-ft, 8,500-seat stadium include CENTRIA single-skin metal panels on a mixed-medium exterior.  Among other features, the metal panels help promote the southern city’s industrial heritage and complement brick, ironwork, and steel buildings in the surrounding area.

Ballpark shot WEB

High School Football Stadium, Texas Style

Allen High School Football Stadium, Allen, TX

By Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association

Sure, everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes a high school football stadium so grand and high-budget that it garnered national attention last year. The $60 million Allen High School football stadium, located in the fast-growing Dallas suburb of Allen, TX, features many architectural bells and whistles, including concrete seats for 18,000, a towering upper deck, a spacious weight room, and practice areas for the school’s wrestling and golf teams. With its 100,000 square feet of metal composite material (MCM) panels, the structure looks more like a college stadium.

According to Zeke Miller, President , The Miller-Clapperton Partnership, Inc. @thepanelguys, Austell, GA, metal is a natural fit for stadiums of all types. “Obviously this project is like a dream assignment, where certain features lend pizzazz, and MCM panels fit the bill.” He adds that MCM panels are the modern day sheet metal because they do not oil can, are low maintenance and durable, and provide design flexibility. The paneling itself can be clad with decorative metal, which is perfect for all stadiums.

The only drawback to stadium projects is that there is no messing around with deadlines, Miller says, because the football season always begins on schedule. Miller-Clapperton, whose projects include the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at the University of Florida, is currently hoping that his MCM panels will be incorporated into the design of the new Atlanta Falcons Stadium that is scheduled to open for the 2017 NFL season.

Since the stadium opened in August 2012, Allen High School’s Eagles football team hasn’t lost a single home game, but Miller resists attributing the streak to anything associated with the stadium’s metal composite paneling.  Still, with all the publicity surrounding the “most expensive high school stadium in America,” Miller says that he kind of wishes that the stadium was better known for its panels rather than the other way around.