Category Archives: Performance

Grand Central Terminal Turns 100 – Thanks in Part to Copper Roof

By John Ryan, Metal Construction Association

 Grand Central Terminal This month Grand Central Terminal in New York City is celebrating its 100th birthday. The iconic landmark has been a transportation hub for generations of travelers and commuters, and a destination for tourists and visitors looking to get a flavor for the Big Apple’s history.

I had the good fortune of working several blocks of Grand Central for several years prior to joining the Metal Construction Association, and often visited it to grab a bite for lunch, meet a friend who was coming to town, or just to enjoy the beauty of the main concourse.Grand Central Roof Detail 2

While the main concourse is stunning, and on each visit I would notice for the first time architectural details that I had never noticed before, I always found Grand Central’s copper roof to be striking. With its green-patina and ornate details, it seemed to be the perfect crown for one of the city’s most impressive landmarks.

But after spending time with MCA, I now have a greater appreciation for what that roof represents. It’s not just a beautiful architectural detail, but it’s also a high-performance feature that helped the building stand the test of time. The original roof, installed in 1913, was recently replaced with a new copper roof as part of a recent renovation, even though engineers determined that it was still serviceable almost 100 years later. That’s something that the average person might take for granted, or not fully appreciate. But not only did the copper roof look great, it performed well for nearly a century.Grand Central - Roof Detail

That’s 100 years. In New York City. That is quite an accomplishment, and speaks to the performance and beauty of metal roofs.

Explore Metal Roofing’s Many Green Benefits

Sykes Chapel uses metal for roofAlthough metal roofing is now considered a building product of choice among a vast legion of green-minded customers, sometimes we need to be reminded of its many ecological benefits. A recent Metal Construction Association technical bulletin provides a quick but very thorough rundown of metal roofing benefits, including that metal roofing:

• Can virtually eliminate the need to use future raw materials to produce roofing.
• Is unaffected by hot-cold or wet-dry weather cycles that break down other materials.
• Has recycled content ranging from 25% to 95%.
• Is fully recyclable if it is removed, perhaps as part of a building renovation.
• Is low weight compared to other roofing materials, which helps extend the life of buildings, among other benefits.
• Does not pose a health risk.
• Is increasingly regarded for its energy efficiency.

Read more about metal roof systems’ sustainability, recycled content, recyclability, low weight, product safety, and energy efficiency in the technical brief.

Green Building Pioneer: Use Commonsense Roofing Design

The greenest house in AmericaIn a recent presentation at METALCON in Chicago, IL, Peter Pfeiffer, FAIA, principal, Barley & Pfeiffer Architects, Austin, TX, discussed some commonsense ideas for building and living green. Pfeiffer, a pioneer in green building who owns “the greenest house in America,” stressed the cost-effectiveness of conserving energy in simple ways, such as adjusting your sprinkler system, placing your electrical panel on an interior (instead of an exterior) wall, and having your roof act as a shading umbrella.

Green Roofing System
“A roof should act as a shading umbrella,” Pfeiffer said. “R-value means little if the house leaks, the windows are unshaded, or the roof is a dark color.”

“Don’t underestimate the value of discussing the obvious,” said Pfeiffer. “R-value means little if the house leaks, windows are unshaded, or the roof is a dark color. This is obvious stuff.” He added that sensible green building is “smarter and better” because it results in “reduced consumption of stuff,” such as energy, water, and nonrenewable materials. This type of building also improves health and indoor air quality.

Pfeiffer stressed that producing your own power is expensive. “Shading windows is better than adding [high-maintenance] solar roof panels. Light-colored metal roofs with broad overhangs that shade windows save money and are easier to maintain.”

How do you accomplish green building? Pfeiffer stated, “Keep it simple and rely on smart, thoughtful, climate-sensitive design.” He said that gizmos and complex things break, and are expensive and time-consuming to fix. Instead, make practical changes to your house, such as using Energy Star dishwashers, low-flow showerheads, and less hot water (instead of buying a fancy water heater). Also, don’t use dark roofs in the South.

Pfeiffer is a proponent of cool metal roofing/ASV ventilation. Unlike conventional roofing insulation, ventilation makes the roof last longer because it doesn’t lock in moisture. A Galvalume metal roof with an airspace underneath keeps heat in the house, he said, and a metal roof costs more than shingles, but it provides long-term cost savings on energy and insurance.

Solar radiation is a “big, powerful thing—and it’s uncomfortable. You need overhangs. Retrofitting with window awnings cuts air conditioning loads by a third by reducing radiation.”

Metal Roofing Is the Ideal (and Long-Lasting) Platform for Solar Panels

Solar Panels
Long-Lasting Solar Panels

By: Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association

Gone are the days of contractors having to justify the expense of metal roofing to customers, said Rob Haddock, founder of S-5!®, at METALCON in Rosemont, IL. Today, metal roofing is increasingly regarded as the premiere cost-saving, solar-mounting platform because, unlike other roofing systems, metal roofing can outlive PV systems by some 20-30 years, he said.

Haddock noted that the service life of Galvalume steel roofs is at least 50-60 years, far exceeding the service life of crystalline PV modules by some 20-30 years. “Roof replacement is not necessary,” he said. “The roof outlives the PV system.” He noted several benefits of metal roofing, including that it’s a highly recycled construction material, is relatively maintenance-free, and that PV systems can be mounted with zero roof penetration by using seam clamps.

Haddock pointed out that while traditional-generated energy is rising, the cost of solar systems has dropped by about a third in the last 5 years—from $3 per watt to about $1 per watt. Moreover, he said, “solar has a bright, sustainable future” as it gains support at the federal and state levels and among American consumers.

FireCreek Restaurant
FireCreek Restaurant with Galvalume Roof

Currently, the Metal Construction Association is supporting a study on the longevity of the Galvalume standing-seam metal roof system. Engineer Ron Dutton told METALCON attendees that Galvalume roofing systems in various climates around the country are being quantitatively analyzed. Preliminary results show that the service life of the metal roofing system far exceeds the entire assumed 60-year service life of buildings. The final results of the study are expected 2013, he said.

Dutton noted several benefits of Galvalume, including that it has excellent long-term durability, life-cycle costing, and cut-edge protection. It can also be designed to various insulation requirements; has low maintenance costs; and is light weight, readily available, and competitively priced.

The Beauty of Steep-Slope Metal Roofs

Todd Miller

By: Todd Miller, Isaiah Industries, Inc.

Today’s metal roofs provide far more than just protection from water intrusion; they now add visual beauty, style, and personality to a building—and then some. This is particularly true with steep slope metal roofs, those with a 3:12 or greater pitch. Some of these roofs can cover as much as two-thirds of a building’s exterior, providing a broad canvas on which to make a visual statement.

For property owners, choosing an attractive roof that enhances a building’s overall design is critical. There are many options of metal roofs from which to choose. Standing seam metal roofs offer clean, straight vertical lines. Numerous through-fastened profiles provide a more fluted or corrugated look. Then, there are metal roofs specifically designed and manufactured to look like wood shakes, slate, barrel tile, and even dimensional shingles. With these options and advances in coating, we can safely bid farewell to those monochromatic, heavy-looking metal roofs of yesteryear.NJ church with standing seam metal roof

But, as you know, beauty is more than skin deep. There are other advantages to steep-slope metal roofing, including its

  • Low Weight. Metal roofs typically weigh from 50 to 125 lbs. per 100 sq ft. Aluminum metal roofs are typically the lightest, while steel and copper roofs, at about 125 lbs. per 100 sq ft, are about one-third the weight of standard shingles.
  • Wind Resistance. The uplift pressures exerted on steep slope metal roofs can be significant during heavy windstorms. Due to their fastening methods and often interlocking nature, metal roofs hold on tight, even in heavy winds.
  • Lower Installation Cost. Labor costs to install roofing are increasing annually—and, according to some research, are expected to double every 10 years. With very steep or geometrically complex metal roofs, labor can represent a significantly large part of the entire roofing project, even more than the roofing material itself. For that reason alone, it makes good economic sense to choose a durable, lasting metal roof and follow the adage, “Do it right. Do it once.”

Think of metal roofing as a building upgrade that adds property value, beauty, comfort, efficiency, protection, and freedom from maintenance. Contact MCA for more information on metal roofing.

Metal roof revitalizes historic landmark

MCA Board Chairman Todd Miller is president of Isaiah Industries, Piqua, OH.

Retro Metal Is Always “In”

No, we’re not referring to retro metal music like Kiss or Quiet Riot. We’re talking about retrofitting buildings with metal roofs and metal walls.

Retro metal roof on a elementary school   Elementary school with retrofit metal roofing

No matter the age or style of building, retrofitting with metal can offer many benefits, including potential long-term savings, design flexibility, sustainability and energy efficiency. Building Operating Management magazine recently published a four-part feature article focusing on the many benefits of retrofitting with metal. The article offers a wealth of information and features insights from several Metal Construction Association member companies.

Interested in learning more about retrofitting with metal walls and roofs? Register for the free “Retrofitting with Metal Roof and Wall Systems” webinar on November 6.

Visit our Retrofit page for additional resources about retrofitting with metal. Or visit our Case Study library, and search for “Retrofit” to learn more about inspiring retrofit projects.

Stainless Steel: A Cool Option for Building Exteriors

Airports with stainless steel roofs help with cooling efficiencyFred Nolan of NOW Specialties Inc.

Recently The Metal Initiative sat down with Jim Halliday of Contrarian Metal Resources, to discuss the solar reflectivity of stainless steel, and its many applications in the building envelope.

TMI: You recently reminded us of something we all seem to know intuitively: that stainless steel has a very low thermal conductivity.  Continue reading Stainless Steel: A Cool Option for Building Exteriors

Which Property Owners Choose Metal?

By: Todd Miller, Isaiah Industries, Inc.

In my metal roofing and construction work, I am frequently asked about what types of property owners choose metal to protect and enhance their buildings. This is a great question but, to be honest, I believe matchmaking is best left to the personal dealings of online dating services. However, there are certain hallmark characteristics of property owners who gravitate toward metal, including having:

  • An appreciation of aesthetics. Those who choose metal usually care deeply about the design and beauty of their buildings. They understand that individual products are integral to the overall design and function of a building. This usually extends beyond the building envelope to include landscaping and the building interior.
  • Concern for operational costs. Property owners who want to reduce their costs for energy and maintenance, both now and well into the future, gravitate toward metal because of its durability and energy efficiency.
  • A long-term view. Metal is perfect for those buildings that owners plan to own for a long time. The real dollar value of metal products tends to kick in during a building’s second decade, when energy savings start to mount. It’s also at this time that less durable building materials need to be repaired or replaced.
  • Concern for the environment. Metal products offer many green benefits. They are sustainable, contain large amounts of recycled content, and are completely recyclable at the end of their long lives.

To find out whether building owners are compatible with the use of metal, I suggest asking them what they wish to accomplish and then having them prioritize their goals. For example, do they seek durability? Energy efficiency? Fire safety? Beauty? As they work through this process, metal will likely appear the logical choice for their building material.

Todd Miller is president of Isaiah Industries, Inc., Piqua, OH.

The New Ivy Covered Walls

Building Design and Performance: The Stakes Are High

By: Todd Miller, Isaiah Industries, Inc.

Today, it doesn’t make any difference whether you’re planning to build or remodel a tall skyscraper in Manhattan or a rustic vacation getaway outside of Albuquerque, the stakes are high when it comes to product selection.

The first step to specifying products that will lead to a successful project is to determine your criteria. What are the key things you’d like to achieve? Once you determine your criteria, you have benchmarks to weigh competing products against and determine what it will take to create the building of your dreams.

In determining your criteria, there are several keys areas to consider. Let’s take a look at them.

Continue reading Building Design and Performance: The Stakes Are High