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Metal Building Systems: A Rising Star in the Market

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Metal Building Systems: A Rising Star in the Market

Gabe Savely | March 10, 2015

The metal and glass S.R. Crown Hall of the Illinois Institute of Technology built in 1956, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Photo: Joe Ravi/Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA 3.0

“Metal building systems now account for over 50% of new low-rise, non-residential buildings in the U.S.,” proclaims the 2014 Annual Report of the Metal Building Manufacturer’s Association (MBMA). 

This stunning statistic may take some by surprise, but the reasons behind it are not hard to explain. System development and innovation during the past decade have given metal buildings great functional and aesthetic versatility. Today’s metal building systems are compatible with a broader range of applications, and capable of a broader range of architectural choices, so they are fulfilling more of the market need.

The report – called First Choice – demonstrates how the collective strength of the metal building industry, in the form of the MBMA, is putting resources into refining and extending metal building systems as a construction choice. This includes research to improve structural technology and energy performance. On the sustainability front, they are also compiling better data for the life cycle assessment, which helps qualify metal building systems to meet sustainability mandates.

For example, the report of the technical committee contains a range of research initiatives and refinements of standards. They are studying the seismic performance of metal building systems, studying wind loads on roll-up doors and ways to improve design, and developing better structural connections. They are also working with a primary standards-making entity, the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), to refine the structural specification for metal building systems.

Also present throughout the report are examples of educational resources relevant to metal building systems. Safety workshops, webinars on sustainability and energy performance, as well as numerous publications provide industry members with access to the vital knowledge that is being developed.

The clear implication of this report is that the metal building industry as a whole is dedicated to increasing the performance and utility of their products and improving the quality of the built environment. They’re putting resources into the future, not merely trying to defend their turf. Small wonder that the appeal and acceptance of metal buildings is now dominating the marketplace.

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