Case Studies

Metal Construction Association

Advancing the use of metal building products through data-driven performance metrics

Based in Chicago, the Metal Construction Association (MCA) is a trade association representing manufacturers and suppliers of architectural metal building products. Since forming in 1983, MCA has tirelessly worked to serve its membership by promoting the use of metal in all areas of the building envelope and getting this message out to the building community though marketing, industry education, training and programs, annual events such as METALCON and taking action on public policy issues that affect metal manufacturers, suppliers and contractors.

Key research drives product performance message

MCA’s activities help create greater industry awareness for metal and architectural metal products; their applications and benefits over other building materials. As the green building movement grows and more customers demand sustainable, long-lasting solutions, MCA is arming its members with the information, proven research and tools to remain competitive in the changing building marketplace.

“We have a very active and very deep technical research agenda that works to research and collect data by documenting the performance of metal building products,” says Scott Kriner, technical director and sustainability consultant working with MCA.

This research advances opportunities for members through the adoption of new codes and standards in favor of metal building products. “There’s great collaboration among members in accomplishing this goal and collecting this data,” says Jeff Henry, current executive director of MCA. “We have 11 councils and committees all focused on different domains; many members participate in multiple committees.”

Jeff has been with MCA for two years. “When I came onboard MCA I was surprised to see just how committed the organization is to research and how active these committees are in driving product performance data,” he says.

Longevity and leading roof performance

A recent study released by MCA’s Roofing Council has concluded that a new or retrofit low-slope Galvalume roof system (an internationally recognized trademark of BIEC International Inc.) — in a wide range of environments — does not require replacement throughout the building’s full service life. This shows a significant advantage over nonmetal roofs, which typically require one or more full replacements over an average 60-year service life.

The study shows that low-slope standing seam metal roof systems, using 55 percent aluminum-zinc alloy coated sheet steel, experienced corrosion rates that project service lives ranging from 60 to upward of 375 years — considering local precipitation pH.

These findings exhibit how inherently durable metal roofs are and that they’re a better choice from a sustainability standpoint. MCA’s committee research concluded that the expected life of a similar metal roof constructed today, in a wide range of environments, using best practices and routine maintenance, can be expected to surpass a 60-year life span, a value that equals the assumed building service life as described in USGBC’s LEED, Version 4 Green Building Rating Program.

The study notes that while these roof systems were found to last longer than 60 years, ancillary components such as fasteners, may need to be replaced, but this still represents significantly less than 20 percent in cost of a total roof replacement.

MCA is also participating in a Cool Wall Research Project — a three-year study currently underway by MCA, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the California Energy Commission and other universities. The goal is to scientifically evaluate the durability and performance of metal wall surfaces in lowering cooling and heating energy costs in buildings.

Ahead of the pack

This research has been key component in furthering market development for MCA and its members. “We’ve moved from general advertising and educational materials about the benefits of products,” says Jeff. “Now there’s much more emphasis on data and documenting the performance of products and using this data to advance standards and code provisions that further the use of these products. I see this continuing to expand and the focus growing on developing more data.”

“We’re proud to be ahead of the pack in our research and sustainability efforts,” adds Scott, who spearheaded MCA’s research and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) component. “We jumped on this early in the game, about eight years ago, before the green movement really kicked into gear.”

“Yes, it is costly. Yes, it takes up a lot of time, but it has really paid off for our members. Looking at the market and looking at where LEED is going and green building programs, our membership at large now understands the need and importance of our sustainability effort,” adds Scott. “Our members have accepted that this is something we need to be involved in. And from an education standpoint, our research has made members more aware of the sustainability language, industry standards and terms. They’re getting more calls from customers about this and they know how to find this information and work through it.”

With more ongoing research, focused committee groups and data-driven performance metrics, the Metal Construction Association is advancing and promoting the use of metal products and helping members stand out by meeting market demand front and center.

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Spring 2018



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