Metal building, residential and roofing contractors, architects, engineers, developers, facility managers, fabricators and building owners from the US and abroad. Attend because it’s the only show of its kind in the world!
This time of year, it’s common to see Christmas trees. But why do you see them on top of commercial construction sites all year long? These trees are a tradition in commercial construction. But do you know where the tradition comes from, or what it means?
Topping Out Ceremonies
Prior to adding the metal panels and metal roofing, a building’s framing is completed by placing the last beam at the highest point of the building. To commemorate this accomplishment, crews have a Topping Out ceremony: a party to celebrate those who made the building possible. They hoist an evergreen tree attached to that last beam for all to see. Often an American flag is also put on the opposite end of the beam. Sometimes the last beam is painted white and signed by the members of the crew, contractor, architects, and owner. But where did this odd tradition come from?
How It Started
Immigrants to the U.S. brought the tradition with them from Europe and Scandinavia, passed down from early pagan and Christian traditions. It’s believed that as early as 700 A.D. Scandinavians began topping out structures with a fir tree to signal those nearby that it was time for the celebration to start. Others believe the tradition of an evergreen atop a structure was started to represent new birth, as the Christmas tree represents the birth of the baby Jesus. There are many tales how the tradition started, and so the specific origin is murky.
The Building Is the Gift Under The Tree
While Grand Opening festivities introduce a new building to the public, the Topping Out ceremony uniquely honors the accomplishments of the construction crew, architect, building owner and other key people who made the building possible. Reminiscent of a party at the end of an old-fashioned barn raising, a Topping Out ceremony gives credit to those who do the actual work of designing, planning, and constructing buildings.
Celebrate Your Own Metal Construction
The Topping Out ceremony is a wonderful celebration for any construction project, whether low-rise, high-rise, commercial, residential, or other. On your next construction project, take the time to celebrate what’s been accomplished and the people who made it happen with a Topping Out ceremony. It’s a little bit of Christmas that you can look up and experience year round!
By: John Ryan, Metal Construction Association
The cost of replacing a roof can be one of the most significant maintenance expenses in the life of a building. USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building rating program (version 4) assumes a building service life of 60 years. With most types of roofing, building owners can expect to replace the roof once or twice in that amount of time, incurring significant expense to do so.
Many buildings are The Metal Construction Association (MCA) is proud to announce a new study that verifies that coated steel roofs can last as long as the buildings they cover. The research study concluded that the expected service life of an unpainted 55% Al-Zn coated steel standing seam roof constructed today in a wide range of environments using best practices can be expected to be in excess of 60 years.
By Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association
Let’s assume that collaboration among trade associations whose members work with metal building materials, including wall and roof panels, will help them thrive in a construction industry marked by consolidation. The question is, where should collaborative efforts start?
The answer appears to be education, according to a panel discussion held at the MCA Summer Meeting on June 23–25, 2014, in Rosemont, IL.
Leaders from six trade associations met with MCA members and guests to discuss where best to pool their resources to help grow the metal construction market, and possibly their own memberships. Time and again, the discussion turned to education.
Panelists included leaders from the Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA), the Metal Building Contractors & Erectors Association (MBCEA), the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA), the National Coil Coating Association (NCCA), the National Frame Building Association (NFBA), and the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA).
MCA Board Member Roger Sieja, director of market development for Wismarq Corporation, moderated the discussion.
During the discussion, several panelists and attendees pointed to the need to educate the building community—particularly architects, specifiers, engineers, and board members of local municipal commissions—on current codes, regulations, and design trends.
Some panelists pointed out that, currently, education is done on a project-by-project basis, so having readily available, widely accepted educational tools on these issues would be useful to their own association members and the entire industry.
“Once [city commissioners]learn what they can actual do [with metal], they are more agreeable and realize that they have been too strict” in limiting the use of metal in building exteriors in their areas, said Lee Shoemaker, director, research and engineering, MBMA. “If [the issue] came up more often, we would probably come up with a program to address it more directly, but it happens only occasionally. We give members tools to help address it locally, but it is hard to do from a national trade association vantage point.”
MBMA promotes the design and construction of metal building systems in the low-rise, non-residential building marketplace. According to Shoemaker, MBMA devotes half of its budget to addressing technical issues of building systems.
Ken Gieseke, chair-elect of NFBA, agreed that broader education on the local level is needed. “We’ve done one-on-one education with [our own city commission], taking pictures of jobs that show that metal is attractive and pointing out [limits to] their codes,” he said. “Getting tools to help us as an industry would be huge.”
NFBA has more than 700 members, including contractors, suppliers, and design professionals. The association seeks to expand the use of post-frame construction, educate builders and decision makers on post-frame construction, provide technical research, and market the benefits of post-frame construction.
The panelists also stressed the need to promote the benefits of using metal on building exteriors to the entire industry, including consumers.
Tom Wadsworth of DASMA said that, “thanks to coil coaters,” highly durable steel and aluminum garage doors now resemble wood ones, but are less expensive and easier to maintain on the part of consumers. DASMA works to create a unified force among its memberships of manufacturers of door and access systems, develop standards, influence building codes, expand its market, and educate the door systems industry.
Likewise, MBMA’s Shoemaker noted that metal buildings with wide clear spans offer superior durability to other construction types, particularly in adverse weather conditions. Getting out messages like this to influencers of construction and consumers is key to growing the industry, he said.
The groups represented at the meeting vary greatly in size and educational offerings, with the 128-year-old NRCA being by far the largest with 3,500 members in the U.S. and abroad and a $12 million annual budget, a vast array of training and educational programs, and its own Political Action Committee. NRCA helps its members contend with government regulations and is active in the codes arena.
However, all the groups represented on the panel promote professionalism and provide education and training to their members, and some provide accreditation.
The 52-year-old NCCA, which has about 100 members, promotes the growth of pre-painted metal. It serves as the voice of the coil coating industry for technical, promotional, education, and regulatory matters.
The 46-year-old MBCEA provides, among other things, national standardized testing and apprenticeship and accreditation programs. It has seen a 30% jump in its membership of metal building contractors and erectors over the past year, according to MBCEA President Gary Smith.
As the panel concluded, it was clear that this discussion was, itself, only a start. Sieja said that MCA would welcome an opportunity to discuss collaboration further at meetings sponsored by these groups.
By: Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association
Kermit 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.
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 email@example.com.
After you’ve seen the latest in metal products at METALCON on Oct. 1-3 in Atlanta (stopping by to visit MCA in booth 1553, of course), come see how metal enhances the physical environment of all members of the ecosystem, from people to sea life.
Opened in 2005, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is the world’s largest aquarium. It holds more than 8 million gallons of water and is home to more than 100,000 sea animals.
Designed by Atlanta-based architecture firm Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates, the firm says its design “combines a unique exterior profile for the Aquarium with an interior concept that strives to give visitors the sensation of visiting an underwater world.”
Metal was a key component in bringing this underwater world to life. The building’s exterior uses metal panels to recreate the appearance of a ship’s hull. The building uses 50,000 sq. ft. of 3A Composite’s Alucobond metal composite panels. The “ship” features approximately 3,600, 4-mm-thick panels in platinum, silver metallic and custom three-coat blue metallic colors.
The aquarium features six regular exhibits—Cold Water Quest, Ocean Voyager, Tropical Diver, Georgia Explorer, Dolphin Tales and River Scout—and a special exhibit, Sea Monsters Revealed: Aquatic Bodies opens September 27.
Attend METALCON first and then wade into the metal application of Georgia Aquarium.
For more information about METALCON visit www.metalcon.com.
Step outside the Georgia World Congress Center when you attend METALCON International in Atlanta next month, and you can’t miss noticing a prime example of metal’s strength and beauty in building design.
Located across the park plaza from the convention center, the Georgia Dome stands mighty as the largest cable-supported domed stadium in the world. The 290-ft.-high roof is composed of 130 Teflon-coated fiberglass panels covering 8.6 acres. The roof’s supporting cable totals 11.1 miles, and the Dome is as tall as a 27-story building, according to the Georgia Dome website.
Opened in 1992, the Georgia Dome took center stage at the 1996 Olympic games as the setting for gymnastics and basketball events. Home to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Georgia State Panthers football teams, the Georgia Dome also recently hosted the NCAA Men’s Final Four basketball tournament in April this year.
METALCON will be take place Oct. 1-3. For a look at the Georgia Dome in action, book your METALCON travel to Atlanta a few days early. The Falcons play the New England Patriots September 29th in this awe-inspiring stadium. The Dome also offers individual and group tours if you don’t have time for a game.
For more information about METALCON, visit www.metalcon.com.
We hope to see you in Atlanta!
By: John Ryan, Metal Construction Association
Fortune Magazine recently featured a story about Starbucks’ use of shipping containers in the design of their new drive-through coffee shops. According to Fortune, a good portion of the 900 or so drive-through locations that Starbucks plans to build in the next five years will be made using retrofitted metal shipping containers.
The use and repurposing of metal shipping containers in construction is a growing trend, even though they are not always less expensive than other manufacturing methods. And re-using a metal shipping container that would otherwise be destined for the scrap heap can make a statement about sustainability, especially when used with other “green” building efficiencies.
MCA’s 2012 Chairman’s Award Winner in the Education-Colleges & Universities category is a creative example of how shipping containers can be used in construction. The project, a student center for Monterrey Technical University in Juarez, Mexico, was designed by Ruben Escobar, a graduate of MTU and principle at the architecture firm Grupo ARKHOS.
The student center uses 14 metal shipping containers to make a 7,000 sq. ft. space for students to interact socially. With exposed metal making up 80% of the new building’s structure, Escobar integrated a metal skin composed of Reynobond composite aluminum panels around the building’s entrance. The 4-mm panels from Alcoa Architectural Products proved to be a perfect complement to the shipping containers, and also were chosen for their durability.
Not only is the new building constructed primarily of recycled materials, but it also is designed to keep cooling costs low. An outdoor paint scheme that uses automotive paint mixed with ceramic nanospheres helps repel the desert sun’s rays, and a series of aluminum and glass garage doors open up to provide natural ventilation about 8 months out of the year.
It is estimated that there are more than 17 million shipping containers in the world today. Because the United States imports far more than it exports, there is a surplus of empty shipping containers in this country. Metal shipping container-inspired architecture is just one way to give new life and purpose to these resources.
By: John Ryan, Metal Construction Association
If you’re in Denver this week to attend the 2013 AIA National Convention, be sure to stop by MCA’s booth (#1303) in the Metal Pavilion. Many of MCA’s member companies will also be exhibiting at the show, and will be displaying the many innovative metal roof and wall products and services that they have to offer. Here is a list of MCA member companies that will be at the convention in Denver this week:
|Exhibitor Name||Booth Number|
|3A Composites USA, Inc.||1733|
|Akzo Nobel Coatings, Inc||1330|
|Alcoa Architectural Products||1523|
|Alpolic-Mitsubishi Plastics Composites America||3354|
|Alucoil North America||519|
|ATAS International, Inc||1306|
|Bayer Material Science||3946|
|Copper Development Association||3930|
|Firestone Building Products||3966|
|Kingspan Insulated Panels||610|
|Metal Construction Association||1303|
|Metal Sales Manufacturing||323|
|Petersen Aluminum Corp||803|
|PPG Industries Inc.||1736|
|RHEINZINK America Inc.||2730|
|Solvay Specialty Polymers||4042|
|Umicore Building Products||2509|