Corrugated Metals Blog

5 Steps to Ensure Design Efficiency for Your Construction Project

Posted by Ken Carlton

Jun 25, 2014 9:29:53 AM

denver-convention-3From the Colosseum to the Empire State Building, from a local courthouse to the local corner store, buildings and architecture make up a central part of our lives and consciousness. Perhaps no one is more aware of this than people in the construction business. This is an area that has seen more than its fair share of challenges in recent years, with the economic crisis of 2008 still looming in the background.

While construction has seen moderate growth since then, leaders in this industry continue to focus on improving the efficiency of construction projects. Making construction more efficient can not only directly contribute to a company’s bottom line, but also represents an investment for future sustainability and energy savings.

Choosing the Best Site

Designing and constructing energy efficient buildings begins with choosing the most appropriate site. There are a number of factors to consider when determining the most efficient use of a construction location. For maximum sustainability, it is best to choose sites where the least amount of land disturbance is needed.

Preserving the existing topography of a construction site minimizes excavation and allows for the conservation of trees, topsoil, and grass. Purchasing replacements for these can increase final construction cost. Also, a site that has been clear cut will often increase storm water runoff during construction, resulting in the loss of valuable topsoil and other erosion issues.

There are many other considerations involved as well. The access of the structure to sunlight could affect the building’s heating and cooling requirements. How windy the area is will also play a role in heating and cooling. This includes the direction of the prevailing wind, as well as the effect that cold winter winds or cooling summer breezes will have on energy efficiency.

A location’s current water drainage patterns should also be examined to ensure that the maximum amount of natural drainage will remain after construction. This will retain the current site’s topography while minimizing possible water damage in the future.

Optimal Building Design

Architects and designers can take steps such as locating spaces with no HVAC requirements toward a building’s colder areas, along with limiting the number and size of north/south side windows on buildings in cold climates. Making sure that windows in each room provide cross ventilation will give free cooling during the spring and fall. Designing buildings that provide maximum daylight can reduce the amount of artificial lighting that is required.

General contractors and sub-contractors can also contribute to efficient building design. Air and vapor barriers should be appropriately installed. These products, which inhibit the movement of airflow and water vapor inside a structure, need to be well secured and sealed to inhibit any possible damage done to them during construction.

In addition, contractors can ensure that air leaks in a building’s thermal envelope are properly sealed. This has been shown to save energy expenses by up to 50%. Finally, contractors can make sure that insulation is installed precisely according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When insulation is inappropriately installed, it reduces energy efficiency and can even be detrimental to the building.

Resource Efficiency

Efficient building design makes the best use of resources. The construction of new buildings can produce a fair amount of debris and waste, so using resources efficiently is very important to keep the industry sustainable. There are many ways to accomplish this.

These include techniques known as “optimum value engineering” that reduce the amount of wood needed for construction. Building with wood is a sustainable method in general. When wood is taken from sustainable sources, it provides more energy efficiency than working with cement or steel.

Another familiar practice that helps make the most out of resources is recycling. Much of the waste created in the construction process could be recycled, but simply isn’t. Salvaging and recycling this waste requires some planning, but ultimately saves money while protecting the environment.

In addition to using and recycling construction materials, new buildings should incorporate features that make it convenient for consumer goods to be recycled throughout the building, further helping to save space in landfills and foster sustainability.

Saving Time and Money

As the construction industry continues to gain economic stability, it’s important for different sectors of the industry to employ time and money-saving techniques. There are a vast number of techniques for this purpose, including purchasing materials in bulk. With the volatile nature of the material costs, bulk purchases can be made that save time and money.

Many seasoned contractors have close contact and knowledge of the marketplace for their supplies and are able to navigate cost spikes with bulk purchasing. Another time and money-saving technique in construction is to purchase locally. Purchasing within a 500 mile radius can bring many logistical advantages that include less fuel consumption and faster delivery times, as well as decreasing a company’s carbon footprint.

A Growing Field

The art of maximizing design efficiency in construction has grown a great deal in recent years, and continues to do so today. In an economic climate that can be filled with uncertainty, making time and money-saving choices that lead to better overall sustainability is always a smart choice.

Working with the best sites, building designs and most efficient use of resources not only aids the bottom line of the construction company. Efficient design and construction contribute to an economy that will ensure high performance and sustainable buildings to help the environment for years to come.

To read more about our products and the processes we utilize and recommend for optimizing efficiency, visit our Architect's Corner and select from our wide range of data sheets, CAD files, and more. 

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Topics: corrugated metals, American Construction, design efficiency

The Construction Industry’s Increased Use of Energy Efficient Building Materials

Posted by Ken Carlton

Apr 22, 2014 9:00:00 AM

galavnized-steel-box-providence-park-hospital-2As construction companies research and learn about new and innovative construction materials, the industry grows and evolves.  One of the biggest evolutions in today’s construction projects is the use of sustainable and more energy efficient building materials for both residential and commercial construction.

A part of the new interest in energy efficient and sustainable building materials has been a focus by many government levels on providing tax incentives to encourage the usage of these types of materials and components. 

Tax credits, rebates, and other incentives from the Federal and state governments has encouraged construction companies and architects to include purchases and installation of a variety of new and energy efficient materials.  Everything from efficient insulation and hot water systems to increased energy efficient windows, doors, siding, and roofing materials have all become critical to construction.

A Continuing Transformation

In addition to these incentives, the construction industry has undergone some transformation in its own view of working with these types of materials, components and systems.  This transformation has seen a greater inclusion of sustainable materials and a strengthening view that increasing energy efficiency in the design of new construction is beneficial to their company’s ongoing business and place in the construction market.

The Legislative Research Commission in their publication “Energy-efficient Building Design and Construction Practices” commented that, “The whole-building design approach integrates building design and siting, including the use of components that feature the latest in energy-efficient technologies and practices, evaluation of all building materials for environmental preference, and completion of a base-case analysis to understand design strategies that will have the greatest impact on the design for a particular building function. “

The report continues to describe how the whole-build approach includes both the architectural design combined with its energy design for a particular building.  “The capacity of mechanical and electrical systems can be minimized by incorporating passive solar technologies to help meet indoor space-conditioning requirements and lighting loads.

Building simulation software can guide decisions to achieve this strategy. All suggested design changes should be re-evaluated through simulation before implementation to ensure they will not detract from meeting building design goals.”

New Materials, Systems and Design Concepts

In addition to the tax incentives and this new approach to construction, there are new materials and systems that provide opportunities that are increasing the use of these materials.  As well, new innovative designs are taking a fresh look on how to utilize every aspect of a building’s construction to increase its overall energy efficiency.  Some of the new materials, systems, and design concepts include:

  1. Occupancy sensors for indoor and outdoor lighting to maintain energy efficiencies when actually needed.
  2. Electrochromic windows that instantly shade, when hit with direct UV rays reduces overall costs for running air conditioning in hot summer months.
  3. High performance insulation for flooring, exterior walls and roofs maintain a building’s heat in colder weather and also retains coolness when operating an A/C system in the summer.
  4. Utilization of metal roofing materials to reflect the sun’s hot rays to keep a building cool and reduce cooling expenses.
  5. Functional use of natural ventilation and ceiling fans to cool buildings to reduce the need for air conditioning.
  6. Application of light colored materials or paint for a building’s exterior, including roofs in order to reflect the sun’s rays and reduce overall cooling costs.

All of these efforts by the construction industry are focused on reducing the general energy use of a building.  The efforts focus on how to effectively and efficiently use energy, but also water and other resources. 

Included in the design are factors such as materials that will protect the people who occupy or work in a building.  And finally, the construction industry is also using these new methods in an attempt to reduce waste and promote better use of materials.

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Topics: Steel, aluminum, American Construction, energy efficiency,

Aluminum and the LEED Revolution

Posted by Ken Carlton

Mar 10, 2014 7:42:00 AM

aluminum_bitsSince its introduction in 1993, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has been promoting sustainability in America’s building industry. Its most well known initiative is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (or LEED) green-building rating system. According to the USGBC website, LEED provides: “a framework that gives project teams the ability to choose solutions that contribute to aggregate environmental progress.”

When it comes to actual building materials, aluminum finds its way into many LEED-rated projects. In 2008, aluminum producers claimed that approximately 85% of domestically produced, flat rolled products for the construction market were made of recycled content. This high level of recyclability is not a surprise when it comes to aluminum. Not only does both post-consumer and post-industrial aluminum contain high percentages of recycled content, but also aluminum itself is 100% recyclable. Other amazing eco-friendly qualities of aluminum include:

  • Aluminum from recycled materials requires only around 5% of the energy required to produce aluminum from bauxite ore.
  • Using recycled over raw materials to create aluminum reduces air pollution by 95% and water pollution by 97%.
  • There is no limit to how many times aluminum can be recycled, so it never loses quality. Therefore, even after it long lifespan, it can be quickly reintroduced into the material stream.
  • LEED buildings, many of which feature recycled aluminum, use 25% less energy than the national average, which adds up to $675.26 per employee!

It is clear that the LEED rating system is becoming a critical part of the American construction industry. As more construction professionals discover the benefits of LEED-rated buildings, the more it becomes clear just how eco-friendly and versatile aluminum can be.  

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Topics: corrugated metals, aluminum, American Construction