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The future is not set in stone: Choosing metal over concrete for your next project saves

The advantages of a pre-engineered structure are countless. However, in an industry that typically relies on concrete, it is sometimes necessary to reiterate just how substantial the benefits of metal buildings actually are.

Flexible and Customizable

The flexibility of a pre-engineered system is quite remarkable. The spanning capacity of a metal building is significantly greater than that of a wood, concrete or even a conventionally framed structure. This results in much more flexibility when it comes to floor space. Additionally, customizable column locations and depths offer adaptability to most floor plans.

Many manufacturers offer clear span products, such as Houston-based Metallic Building Co.'s Long Bay System, which is designed to compete with conventional barjoist and panelized wood roof structures. When properly coordinated with precast or tilt-up concrete wall panels, these custom engineered metal solutions offer contractors the best of both worlds: customized built-up plate primary framing systems with wide span secondary framing. Pre-engineered clear span systems are designed with less bridging than conventional framing. In addition, the reduced amount of bridging is typically bolted or attached with self-drilling screws, which reduces erection time. As we all know, saving time is saving money.

In such a concrete-centric industry, it is imperative for the custom metal building systems industry to set itself apart. There are many ways we can accomplish this but notably through the incorporation of more green building techniques. One basic example is the use of steel, a recycled material that allows contractors to take advantage of LEED points. Building owners can work toward LEED certification by incorporating energy saving strategies that effect the complete cycle of a building from best construction practices to occupation through the end of the building's useful life. Strategies include choosing environmentally sensitive building designs, as well as materials and other assorted criteria, each of which can earn points toward certification. Saving time and money and contributing to environmental consciousness are just some of the benefits to building with metal instead of concrete.

Insulation Options

Many building manufacturers now offer or are affiliated with an insulated panel system supplier. Buildings using effective insulation systems reduce their impact on the environment as they cut down on energy consumption over an extended period.

Several manufacturers offer insulated metal panels that are ideal for numerous roof and wall applications. When used as part of a strategically designed green construction project, they can improve the building's energy efficiency.

These insulated panels provide superior insulation performance compared to insulated concrete or conventional brick-and-mortar type construction and can be erected in less time. Insulated panel systems also can be erected in inclement weather conditions, which, once again, decreases the duration of the construction process.

An additional advantage of insulated panel systems is the weight of the wall system. Insulated wall panel systems weigh approximately 3 to 5 pounds per square foot (0.14 to 0.24 kPa) as compared to insulated concrete or conventional block and brick systems, which can weigh 60 to 90 psf (2.87 to 4.31 kPa).

As the International Building Code has become the predominant building standard, design has become more seismic-related. The wall panel system weight plays an important role in the design. Pre-engineered systems with insulated wall panels offer smaller column sizes, less bridging, and dramatically reduced foundation designs and costs relative to those required by conventional or masonry construction in areas controlled by seismic design.

Purchasing and constructing a metal building in times like these has tremendous benefits: greater environmental building opportunities, flexible design and faster construction, to name a few. With so many opportunities to build smarter with metal, choosing the right material for your next project should be an easy decision.

Delvin Warner is the president of Houstonbased Metallic Building Co. For more information, visit