Metal Architecture Home

IMPs--Better, Faster, Cheaper

Mcn  Kyp  Awp  June17 1  Low Rez

Marking a new era in North American construction

William Lowery, president of All Weather Insulated Panels (AWIP), Vacaville, Calif., believes that insulated metal panels (IMPs)- the sandwich-style building component consisting of closed-cell foam composite encased by two pieces of galvanized steel- can propel the North American construction industry into a new era. "Insulated metal panels are better, faster and cheaper, and we're at the forefront of changing construction in the United States," he says.

A building incorporating IMPs can reduce a building's energy costs by two-thirds because IMPs optimize thermal resistance by stopping any gaps where heated or cooled air could escape. These products require far less specialized equipment to install and, due to their self-aligning, tongue-in-groove joints with concealed fasteners, are a snap to fit together. In short, IMPs make it possible to get the building operational quickly.


Unique Middle

It's easy to see why IMPs became the choice for cold-storage facilities, where reducing energy costs while maintaining stable interior environment is mandatory. In Europe, where access to materials and cheap energy isn't as plentiful as in the U.S., IMPs are the norm. Industry insiders estimate about half of the new commercial construction projects in Europe use IMPs. In the U.S., about one in 10 new projects does, but there's good news. The 10 percent figure is about double compared to just a few years ago.

"Insulated panels can do so much more than conventional building materials," says Lowery, "and you can see it in the wineries that use our panels in their facilities. They are unique customers with unique specs, and IMPs are the perfect solution for them." A winery is, at its heart, an agriculture business requiring expertise and proper facilities to control interior environment for the production of time-sensitive, high-quality products. Up and down the West Coast the industry has grown into a major source of tourism, and thus these centers of production have become associated with a luxury lifestyle that includes fine dining and high culture.

Wineries market their products directly to visitors, adding tasting centers that include gardens and paths among the vineyards while guests try the products. Despite their industrial processes requiring effective environmental control in the interiors of buildings, these production centers also require an exterior appearance of high-visual appeal in various textures, colors and architectural adaptability.

"Everyone likes the idea of being environmentally friendly, but not nearly enough to be willing to sacrifice aesthetic appeal," says Chris Marchetti, national marketing manager at AWIP. "But for the wine industry, our panels pass the test of meeting those two equally important standards. "First, they have to ensure that that interior environment is efficiently maintained, often at a steady temperature with no variation whether in 100-plus degree summer heat or frosty winter nights. In turn, though, these very same panels offer an exterior that suggests comfort and charm. And they lead to cheaper build costs. Second, they are available in a myriad of profiles and finishes, or are able to support accent claddings, or façades, after the panels are installed."


More Variety

The key to growing IMP use in other construction sectors, Lowery believes, comes down to offering customers more variety. "We've continued to develop new wall and roof products over the years, including wall surfaces like Adobe Texture, which has a knockdown stucco appearance," Lowery adds. "And we have products whose surface gives a retro wood grain appearance. We go out of our way to make a metal building look like something other than metal."


2020 ZNE Regulations

In 2008, the California Commission (CPUC) Public Utilities set a goal that all new residential construction in California would be zero net energy (ZNE) by 2020. Kim Harrell, vice president of sales for AWIP, sees roofing panels as the easiest way to meet those standards. He refers to the high thermal performance of IMPs, as AWIP's foaminsulated panels can reach a value above R-50. "IMPs reduce energy needs, meaning a savings in needing fewer solar panels and yet still meet the 2020 standards," Harrell says. "Because of IMPs, roof panels will play a significant role in helping new and existing construction comply with the CPUC's aspirations for the state of California."

Ted Johnson is marketing strategist at All Weather Insulated Panels (AWIP), Vacaville, Calif. To learn more, visit Inquiries may be directed to or call (888) 970-AWIP (2947).