Steel Buildings Go Green
The idea that a metal building could be environmentally sustainable strikes many as odd. After all, what could be more artificial than a steel building? In fact, steel buildings prove remarkably green when compared to other buildings.
Durability and Recyclability
Steel buildings are durable and capable of standing for decades. The longer a building lasts, the fewer resources required to replace it. This alone makes metal buildings a sustainable choice. Wood-based buildings are susceptible to damage from mold, termites, rot and other factors which simply don't affect steel.
Steel buildings are also recyclable, reducing waste and resource consumption. Steel harvested from the building is 100 percent recyclable, and can be used to construct new buildings. So whether you're building a steel-based home or a warehouse to store supplies when you're not transporting equipment, steel reduces your carbon footprint.
Heating, Cooling and Insulation
Steel buildings can be surprisingly energy-efficient. Factory-insulated steel wall panels have R-value ratings ranging from R-16 to R-32. Additional insulation can be added during construction to meet the insulation needs of your steel house, warehouse or commercial building.
Metal roofs containing special pigments reflect sunlight and heat, reducing air conditioning demands. Once again, steel's durability comes into play. Many roofing systems lose 55 percent of their reflective properties over the course of their roof's life. A metal roof only loses 5 percent, so you get more effective reflection over a longer period of time.
While it's possible to use a steel building without a heating or cooling system, in most situations you'll want some environmental control for comfort or to protect stored items from extreme temperatures. Most steel buildings come with preinstalled ventilation and ductwork, making heating and cooling system installation easy. Installing skylights in metal roofs also helps cool the building while cutting down on the need for artificial light.
Steel building parts are made in factories and built on-site, leaving some people with the mistaken impression that metal buildings adhere to prefabricated designs. Prefab buildings seldom take into account energy saving elements in the surrounding environment.
Fortunately, metal buildings are not confined to set designs. In fact, most are highly customizable and built to order. With this in mind, you can position and design a steel building to take advantage of the local environment. In cold climates, for instance, you may wish to add south-facing windows to maximize sunlight and heat conservation.
You'll get the most energy-efficient steel building if you include an energy design expert in the planning and drafting stages before construction. Ask the construction company about ventilation and ductwork options, insulation choices and roof materials.
Given the energy efficiency and durability of steel, more people are considering the material for their commercial and residential needs. Metal, it seems, is going green.
Michael is a full-time blogger who has passions in all corners of the online world. In his down time he enjoys being outdoors, traveling, and blogging on everything from technology, to business, to marketing, and beyond.