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What a Year for MCA, and 2018 Looks Even Busier

MCA addresses a wide variety of technical issues in 2017

Ind Impact Mca Oct17 1
Wind tunnel testing

The Metal Construction Association (MCA) has been involved in a number of technical efforts since the last METALCON and we want to take an opportunity to share the accomplishments and direction we see construction and our association moving.

MCA has been involved in so many areas over the past year it would be impossible to write about all of them in one article. The following areas are what we see as important to both MCA members and the entire metal construction industry. MCA will be working on several of these topics going forward and this would be an ideal time for companies to get involved in the changing construction marketplace.

Fire, Fire Everywhere: There have been quite a number of combustible cladding fires around the world lately. From the tragic events at Grenfell Towers in London to multiple fires in the United Arab Emirates, events keep reinforcing how important it is to have a strong building code that defines what products are required and under what conditions certain products may be used.

In North America, it’s more than just luck that we have not had any major events. The International Building Code (IBC) and the National Building Code of Canada (NBC) are very particular where and when combustible wall assemblies may be used. As an industry, we need to continue questioning performance and expand our understanding on the limitations for these assembly types. Are we out of the woods? Hardly; and it will take continued effort to maintain a high level of test standards and certification programs to ensure we continue to construct safe buildings. New changes in the areas of code and testing are bound to occur as we get better at what we do. MCA continues to be involved with groups like the ICC, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and ASTM International to develop the best standards and tests to ensure safety.

Discontinuous Metal Roofing Research: Several MCA members manufacture air-permeable metal roof panel systems commonly used for residential roofing and snap-together standing seam roof systems. The current industry tests to evaluate wind uplift do not provide useful information for these air permeable assemblies. MCA is involved in a multi-year research project with the University of Florida and the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) to develop a new standard to identify performance of these unique systems. Wind tunnel testing of full-size, highly permeable metal roof assemblies is being conducted and data from this research will be used to create a new test.

Wind tunnel testing of full size highly permeable metal roof assemblies is being conducted and data from this research will be used to create a new test.

Cool Walls at the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory (LBNL): MCA has worked with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for over 10 years on cool metal roofing and now we are gearing up to participate in Cool Wall Research. LBNL and several California universities are evaluating many aspects of wall construction to find ways to mitigate the urban heat island effect. A variety of pre-painted metal wall assemblies are included in this research project that is intended to identify new concepts for components and coating technologies that can significantly boost solar reflectance. The first workshop is taking place in October at LBNL.

Challenges to Major Testing and What is Yet to Come (NFPA 285): During this past year, the NFPA Technical Committee tried to introduce a change to the benchmark NFPA 285 test. The change was okay in concept, however it would have created millions of dollars of retesting for wall assemblies with little understanding of what would be gained.

At issue was a standardized location for joints and seams in the test sample. This change was defeated at the very last appeal, but that is not to say we won’t see further efforts to modify the key test of fire performance. This issue will now go back to the Technical Committee for further discussion and MCA will be working with that committee on future developments.

MCA is also working with an NFPA Forum Project that is developing tools to be used in the field that can help identify wall assemblies, and begin to identify areas of increased risk due to the types and construction of the wall assemblies. Whether in the area of materials used or construction methods, more care and direction is coming to aid building officials in what should be used and where.

New Supporting Technical Information from MCA: The MCA technical staff has developed several new best practice roofing documents that can be found on the MCA website. MCA has also looked at the combustible cladding assemblies, metal composite materials (MCM) and insulated metal panels (IMP). Technical bulletins and white papers show how these product types can meet both performance and code requirements and still provide a good construction value.

At METALCON will be additional technical materials, including a Product Selection Guide for Insulated Metal Panels and a best practices document for the application of air-dry touch-up paints. All of these documents are written to provide answers to construction and field problems that remain in the grey area.

Finally, we have re-energized the Ask the Experts section of the MCA website. Demand is growing for answers to field issues and MCA is a perfect forum to address many of these items and provide testing results so the overall level of performance for the metal industry can be raised. http://www.metalconstruction.org/forum/

Roofing Edge Metal Standard: The singleply membrane industry (SPRI) has developed an edge metal standard for roof applications, however that standard does not cover metal roofing perimeter metal trim. MCA has started a project to address this metal roof issue and to ultimately develop into an ANSI standard.

Environmental Product Declarations (EPD): The EPD process will be one of the first steps down that road and a great opportunity to show the construction world why EPDs are critical and where they are positioned in the construction process. Some of the areas that will be more clearly defined include: why is there a need for EPDs; what are they intended to accomplish; and where is the process headed.

MCA will be updating and refreshing the industry 2001 Life Cycle Assessment that has been an important component for the process thus far. We will also be updating the three industrywide EPDs developed after the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) project was completed. The industry-wide EPDs will include more MCA member manufacturing companies that have realized the value in having this document. Finally, a new industry-wide EPD will be developed for prepainted aluminum cladding, which has been repeatedly requested by architects and designers. Our refreshing activity is being led by MCA member ThinkStep.

Rainwater Runoff Research (Washington State University): MCA is part of a roofing task group evaluating the impact of rainwater runoff from roof surfaces and the impact on pollution levels in the Puget Sound. An earlier project was conducted using both unpainted and pre-painted metal roofing, but the research was not completed. With limited funding and resources the new project will focus on the aquatic toxicity of roof runoff and attempt to arrive at conclusions that will help us better understand the impact of this process. The level of research required for this new project is not clear yet.

Building Code Changes: The only thing sure about the building code process is change. Not often a fast process, the recent storms and fire events worldwide will force the construction industry to try and find better solutions. The storms in Texas and Florida will require a great effort in construction, and Florida for one will be introducing the new Florida Building Code (FBC) starting in January. The FBC is already available online and MCA will be sure to follow the changes as this code develops further.

From MCA’s perspective, 2017 was an off year for the codes, but the code development process kicks off early in 2018 with code change proposals due on Jan. 8. Thousands will be reviewed, and the public hearings will happen in Columbus, Ohio, April 15-25. MCA will surely have a number of changes submitted and will be following and acting on many others that will impact metal construction.

The strength of MCA is the intelligence and experience of its members. With those assets, MCA remains involved in what can and will be the future of our industry. With one goal in mind— keeping metal products and assemblies in the forefront of quality construction in North America— MCA will continue to work toward better and higher quality construction.

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For more information about MCA, go to www.metalconstruction.org.