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Resilient Design and Metal Architecture

Resilient Design and Using Metal to Build Homes

 For the last few years, it seems that resiliency and resilient design have become the buzzwords for the architectural community.  Since the US coastlines have experienced more Hurricane activity in the last 5 years the conversation has become increasingly more popular.

So, what is resilient design and how does metal architecture and construction play into it?

With new innovations in technology metal buildings are no longer used just for big skyscrapers. Metal architecture for residential projects is becoming increasingly popular. Residential homes, outbuildings, carports, detachable garage kits, and sheds are just a few examples of its now common use.

Metal is a popular choice because of its strength, durability and resilience. Metal can withstand many common fail points associated with the common wood method. Prior to using metal we were more comfortable using wood as the preferred building material for home construction. But why choose metal over wood; what are the benefits?

There are many very important reasons why using metal architecture for homes is healthier, safer and more resilient.

With the propagation of mold and mildew in residential buildings, using metal eliminates these infestations. Mold needs moist, organic material on which to grow. The Environmental Protective Agency (EPA) reports that 33%-50% of all structures have moisture-laden conditions ripe for supporting mold, bacteria, or other indoor biological pollutants.  As a result many people suffer from allergy and sickness from mold penetrations.  Metal does not have those problems.

Aluminum and Steel framing and structure stops mold in three ways.

  1. Metal is inorganic, so mold can’t feed like it does on lumber.
  2. Metal doesn’t hold moisture like wood does, so mold is less likely to occur as a surface issue.
  3. Metal components are built straight, true, and tight— and stay that way over time.

Wood-framing shifts, sags, and warps in what builders call “creep,” as the individual studs all twist, expand, and contract with changing moisture content.  That causes nails to work out; actually, the whole frame loosens up over time.  Cracks and crevices in the framing envelope develop.  Windows and doors no longer shut properly, allowing outside moisture (and mold spores) to penetrate the building envelope more easily.

But metal framing does not change, creep, warp, or sag, because steel is inorganic and unaffected by moisture.  Most metal framing connections are bolts and screws that won’t work out like nails.

A properly insulated metal building not only is energy efficient, but it is also built tight to stay tight.  And since metal-framing creates deeper exterior walls than ordinary 2×4 wood framing, the use of thicker, more energy efficient insulation is possible.

The inorganic nature of metal makes it termite-resistant, too.  Since metal is non-combustible, it doesn’t burn or contribute fuel to a building fire. A well-grounded steel building is much less likely to be damaged by lightning.  The intrinsic strength of metal makes it resistant to high winds.  Metal buildings start out arrow-straight and stay that way over the years.  Since metal is recycled more than any other material, it is also a “green” building material.  Metal is simple to erect and produces little waste as a by-product of construction.

Overall, metal architecture for homes overcomes many of the shortcomings of common wood frame construction. It alleviates health risk and mold exposure, supports energy efficiency and green efforts, and mitigates the experience of flooding, high wind hurricanes, and disaster impacts.