In 2012 more than 3.3 gigawatts of solar power were installed, which is enough to power about 500,000 homes. That is a 76% increase from 2011, and the industry expects another record year for solar power installations in 2013.
“There were 16 million solar panels installed in the U.S. last year – more than 2 panels per second of the work day – and every one of these panels was bolted down by a member of the U.S. workforce,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “We’ve brought more new solar online in 2012 than in the three prior years combined.”
See below for some fun facts about the Top 10 Solar States, and visit SEIA for an executive summary of the full report.
Though the panel of experts is optimistic, there are some threats to the growth and profitability of the industry. The two biggest threats come as no surprise: continued economic uncertainty and a challenging political environment.
Other highlights from the state of the industry report include insights on building green, how technology is changing the industry, and outlooks on how the industry will evolve over the next 10 years.
The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is monitoring the building’s temperature and heat information. According to Scott Kriner, MCA technical director, both the DOD and the project team “are confident that this integrated retrofit roof system will perform as predicted and allow for the technology to be transferred throughout the DOD, to other federal agencies, and into the commercial-building sector.”
ORNL should be completing a year-long study of the building’s energy data in 2013 to quantify the impact of the metal roof retrofit project. Stay tuned–we will post more information to this site as it becomes available.
If anyone understands long-term life cycles, it’s a cemetery owner. I know one in St. Louis, MO, who owns two large, old mausoleums that stand side by side. One mausoleum has steel and copper roof systems that have remained relatively maintenance- and repair-free—and beautiful—for as long as 80 years. The other mausoleum has a flat-roof addition, built in 1986, which has a conventional roofing system that has been plagued by leaks for decades.
After determining the life-cycle costing and return on investment on the two roofs, it’s not surprising that the owner decided to retrofit the flat-roof addition with a metal roof. He anticipates far fewer worries with a metal roof, given its ability to shed rainwater and its 40- to 60-year service life.
In addition to its longevity and durability, metal retrofit also offers long-term cost-savings in the form of appreciable value of the building, better insurance rates, and energy-efficiency. Adding insulation to a metal retrofit can provide R30 thermal resistance—one reason why you increasingly see them on military and municipal buildings, including schools. Many building owners choose to add renewable solar energy technologies to these roofs, such as photovoltaics or solar hot-water systems, which can reap huge tax benefits.
• 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.
In 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.
“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.”
More often than not, architects and designers choose Insulated Metal Panels (IMPs) for a combination of reasons, not the least of which is aesthetics given that they come in a variety of styles, sizes, colors, finishes, and textures and can be installed both horizontally and vertically. Metl-Span’s Tuff Wall® IMPs, for example, provide a stucco-like appearance to the new corporate-headquarter addition to the Hitchiner Manufacturing facility, Milford, NH, a casting supplier to manufacturers in the aerospace gas turbine engine industry. But according to Dennis Mires, PA, of The Architects in Manchester, NH, IMPs also met insurance requirements, stayed within the owner’s budget, and provided a high-tech look for the company.
With that in mind, what are top reasons for choosing IMPs? Industry experts say that the metal panels:
are energy-efficient. IMPs have two metal skins, an interior and an exterior, which are bonded to a foam polyisocyanurate insulation core, making them highly energy efficient, said Brian Jaks of Green Span Profiles, Waller, TX, a manufacturer of IMPs. Initially used on cold-storage facilities, the panels have R values as high as 8 per inch, compared to 3.7–4.3 per inch for batt insulation, and range in thickness from 2–6 inches.
have thermal performance. According to Ken Buchinger of Metal Building Components, Inc., who recently spoke at METALCON, IMPs provide continuous insulation and consistent R values across walls, and have concealed fastener systems that prevent thermal bridging between the exterior and interior skins. He further noted that IMPs tend to hold their R value over time and do not have significant thermal drift.
allow for fast installation. IMPs’ one-piece construction makes for faster installation, Buchinger said. Faster installation helps lower construction costs and interim financing costs. Moreover, he said, the steel skins are resistant to abuse and, compared to conventional building envelope materials, are not as affected by adverse weather conditions such as high winds.
are suitable for green building. IMPs were used on the new LEED-gold-certified “Bartholomew Building” addition to William Allen High School in Allentown, PA, for their simplicity of design. “The [system] just goes together,” said Mitch Miller, associate and director of specifications of USA Architects, Easton, PA. “You’re installing the insulation and the finished panel at the same time.” Furthermore, the metal in a panel’s skin often has a high content of recycled steel or aluminum, and, when IMPs are removed from a wall, they can be recycled or re-used on another project, saving them from the landfill.
offer unsurpassed design flexibility. “People like the panel because it has a flat appearance,” Jaks said. “It doesn’t necessarily have corrugation and architects like that.” He added that IMPs are available in a variety of textures, including smooth, embossed, and heavy embossed. They also come in wide range of colors, and can be customized to match any color palette. IMPs’ design flexibility allows the ability to achieve almost any look and increase curb appeal.
are well suited for roof applications. More than 130,000 sq. ft. of IMPs was used to reroof the eight-building Haughton Middle School complex in Haughton, LA. According to Lauren Marchive, project architect with Newman Marchive Carlisle, Inc., Shreveport, LA, the local school board chose IMPs for their thermal performance and because the roof system was available in red, which matched the school’s original design. Even more vital was the speed and ease of installation, and that the roof could be installed during the school year on sections of buildings that were not in use.
Choosing between metal construction materials and systems can be complex—each project has a number of factors that need to be considered. But IMPs offer a host of benefits to make them an attractive choice for a wide variety of projects.
My daughter just started kindergarten this fall, and picking her up from school each day often reminds me of my days in grammar school. The brick-walled schools that I attended years ago are still in use today (they seemed so much bigger back then), and still providing students with a great environment in which to learn.
But just as I am reminded that every year I am getting older, there are reminders that the country’s thousands of school buildings are aging, too. Many are being replaced with new, state-of-the-art schools, and many more are being retrofitted to make them current with the latest education, technology and energy standards.
And with more frequency than in the past, those familiar brick walls are being upgraded and replaced with new, energy-efficient metal walls and roofs. Take, for instance, the Metal Construction Association’s newest case study on the William Allen High School in Allentown, PA. The school—originally constructed with brick masonry—had outgrown its existing space, so they built a new addition on an adjacent lot. The exterior of the new building is a combination of brick and metal panels, with the majority of wall surfaces being insulated metal panels (IMPs).
The metal complements the brick aesthetically—a trend that we are seeing more and more of—and it helped the new building attain LEED gold certification. Not only are the IMPs energy-efficient, but the added benefit of quick installation (IMPs allowed the building to be enclosed with insulation and the finished panel in one shot) made them an ideal choice for this project.
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.
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.
According to a new study released at Greenbuild 2012 by McGraw-Hill Construction, the top reasons for building green are client demand, market demand, lower operating costs and branding advantage. In 2008, the top reasons were doing the right thing and market transformation. This shift signifies that firms are seeing the value in building green, and that it can strengthen their bottom line. And building green is not just for new construction; renovation projects also reap the benefits, including near-term and long-term operating cost savings for building owners, as well as increased building values. (You can read the full article with additional details about McGraw-Hill Construction’s new study on the United States Green Building Council site.)
It was great to see so many MCA member companies exhibiting at Greenbuild 2012, and a reminder of the many green benefits in building with metal. Metal construction products have high recycled content and are recyclable, have fully developed distribution networks and are energy efficient. Their many benefits allow them to qualify for points in the United States Green Building Council’s LEED program. And their design flexibility allows architects and building owners to achieve design goals while building green.
Want to learn more about building green with metal? Register for our free webinar “Building Green with Metal Roofs and Walls” on January 17, 2013.