Sustainable Benefits of Metal Building Systems [Video Transcript]

Today’s metal building systems provide affordable and sustainable design and construction solutions for low rise, non residential structures. According to the Metal Building Manufacturers Association, or MBMA, metal buildings make up nearly half of the low rise commercial market in the U.S. Some of the benefits include economical design, sustainable manufacturing processes, long span interiors, column free spaces, efficient use of materials with virtually no waste, ease of maintenance, and long lasting, durable performance. Whether you are looking for a traditional exterior, or a sleek architectural statement, metal buildings can incorporate metal walls, brick, glass, masonry, concrete, or other materials. There are a variety of design options for building envelops, and insulating techniques. Cold metal roofing, day lighting, and exterior finishes.

The basic elements of a metal building system include steel beams and columns that make up the primary frames, and the secondary framing which includes roof purlins or joists, and wall girts. Metal buildings also feature a weather tight standing seam, or through fastened metal roof, and metal wall panels or other wall finish materials. Every metal building system is custom engineered, and must meet local building and energy codes and standards, as well as the requirements of voluntary green rating systems. MBMA provides design resources that are available through the website, and the online bookstore. For more information on steel buildings, visit

Sustainable metal building solutions begin with highly efficient designs. For example, primary metal framing members are often tapered to optimize the use of structural steel, saving raw material. Light weight metal roof and wall panels are integrated into the design, providing a highly efficient building envelope. While minimizing the environmental impact. Metal buildings are built to last. They are resilient, and designed to withstand severe wind, hail, and snow events. Available high performance roof and wall insulation systems reduce heat gain and loss through the building, saving energy and costs required to heat and cool the enclosed spaces. Virtually all insulating materials are compatible with metal building systems. Factory insulated panels are also available, providing one of the most energy efficient systems on the market. These panels come with code compliant R values, for insulation that meets the most demanding project requirements and environments.

Reflect metal roofs save energy by helping to reduce the urban heat island effect, with their high reflectance and durable long lasting cool coatings. Factory applied paint finishes last for decades, and do not need regular cleaning to stay bright, reflective, and efficient. Cost effective standing seam metal roofs can last up to 60 years with minimal maintenance. They have nearly penetration free surfaces, and can accommodate thermal expansion and contraction, guarding the building and it’s contents from water intrusion. Cool metal roofing is available in a variety of colors, shapes, and reflective performance values, so designers can use the roof as a design element that meets local codes, saves energy, and compliments the building design and architecture.

Metal roofs are the perfect platform for roof mounted solar photovoltaic panels. The standing seam metal roof is the only type where solar panels can be mounted without penetrating the surface, eliminating the possibility of leaks that are common with other types. Renewable energy generating components, such as PV panels, solar heat gain panels, and solar water heaters can be securely and economically attached to the standing seam roof profile. Racking is not required to support the PV panels, saving significant costs.

Metal building systems can incorporate a variety of options for day lighting. Including clear story, skylights, diffusing wall panels, and current wall glazing systems. Saving energy by reducing the need to eliminate the building interior. Metal buildings are engineered and fabricated in a quality controlled environment. All MBMA building manufacturer members are accredited by the International Accreditation Service through the IASAC472 program. During the fabrication process, little to not steel scrap is generated. This means less waste in the plant, and almost no waste on the construction job site. That doesn’t happen with other materials, or other types of construction.

MBMA members focus on the efficient use of water, gas, and electricity during the manufacturing process. They adhere to strict air quality guidelines during automated and manual welding operations in accordance with environmental standards. About 90% of the metal building envelope is comprised of steel. Structural steel has a recycling rate of 98%, according to the Steel Recycling Institute. The steel used in a metal building system is also 100% recyclable at the end of it’s long life cycle. With more than 60 MBMA member plants in the U.S. and abroad, the likelihood is high that the construction site will be within 100 to 500 miles from where the building is manufactured. Use of regionally supplied materials reduces transportation costs, and environmental impacts.

MBMA’s members are deeply committed to the social environmental, and economic principles of sustainability. They actively support third party ISO compliance studies and research, to enhance and continually improve the environmental benefits of metal building systems. For example, MBMA partnered with the Athene Sustainable Materials Institute to research all the attributes known about metal building systems. A lifecycle analysis, or LCA, was conducted to focus on the cradle to gate impacts, and expanded to cradle to grave assumptions through a whole building study. An authoritative report from a third party lifecycle assessment practitioner documents the industry wide average for the environmental impacts of a metal building system manufactured and supplied by MBMA’s member companies. Read the report at MBMA’s website,

MBMA also developed industry wide environmental product declarations, or EPD’s to summarize the environmental attributes of metal building systems for steel framing, and metal cladding. These EPD’s can be used to meet the International Green Construction code, or Ashrae 189.1, and to gain credits toward lead and the green globes rating systems. MBMA members continue to proactively improve the energy and environmental performance of their building products, manufacturing operations, packaging, shipment, and construction. We are proud to help make the world a better place for future generations.

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