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A Busy Year Ahead
April 03, 2003

A Busy Year Ahead

By Will Feland,
Chairman, Metal Building Manufacturers Association

The economy may still be cause for uncertainty in the construction market, but one thing is for sure: the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) continues to forge ahead for the metal building systems industry on a number of significant and important fronts.

Since the MBMA was founded nearly a half-century ago, our number-one priority has been to promote the common interests of our member manufacturers in the low-rise, non-residential building and roofing marketplace. We continue to identify and capitalize on opportunties for the metal buildings industry, as well as work together to overcome any challenges. We ceaselessly and consistently promote the benefits of metal building systems to architects, building code officials, community planning consultants and other key construction decision makers.

As 2003 unfolds, we are moving ahead on a number of fronts, each of which presents opportunites for the advancement of our industry.

Raising Awareness – Growing the Market

The MBMA has a number of marketing and educational programs in various stages of development that should give the metal buildings industry some significant boosts in top-of-mind awareness. Two initiatives that hold great potential promise for the metal building systems industry include the Market Growth Initiative Program and the Metal Building Assembler Training Program. Next steps on both projects will be decided at the MBMA board meeting later this year. While last year we used this space to discuss the merits of these programs – and there are many – we are using this extra time to make sure that whatever course of action we take holds the greatest potential rewards, given the current market uncertainties.

Later this year we will have finalized our distance learning program – “Metal Building Architecture: Effective Design Techniques” – in conjunction with the American Institute of Architects. This for-credit course will educate this critical group of project influencers of the benefits of steel construction with a critical target group. The more architects know about the advantages of metal buildings and how to work with our industry, the greater the chance that steel will become more of a preferred choice in their designs.

The Strength of MBMA Certification

One of the cornerstones of the MBMA is the AISC-MB Certification Program, an independent certification program aimed at the quality and efficiency of metal building systems manufacturers. We continue to work closely with the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), the program’s administrator. Our competitors love to use all of the old misconceptions about metal buildings to their sales advantage. One of the sharpest arrows in our quiver is the ability to show how a certified manufacturer integrates engineering expertise with quality crafted building systems products, to address all public safety requirements imposed by the governing building code. In fact, he only building construction industry to have a certification program that includes engineering and fabrication is ours, the metal building systems industry.

Technical Research Pushes Boundaries

Research is another strength of the MBMA, and we are involved in many projects that will both influence future building code development and make our products an even better choice for architects, developers, engineers, builders and customers. In late February, for example, our Technical Committee heard from researchers from some of the co-sponsoring organizations and universities. These include Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Western Ontario, Virginia Tech, Johns Hookins, and Oak Ridge National Lab.   Virginia Tech, Johns Hopkins, Mississippi State, and Oak Ridge National Lab.

Projects we are working on with these organizations include wind tunnel failure models on standing seam roofs, wind loads on parapets, snow loads on low-slope gable roofs and web-tapered member design. Results of these and other research projects will help bring additional improvements to metal building and roofing products as well as help us provide guidance to the code bodies with which we regularly work.

Making Sense of Building Codes

As codes become more complex and difficult to sort through, the MBMA is working with the international and national standards and specification bodies involved with the International Building Code as well as a host of city and state building code groups. At the same time, we are making sure that our AISC-MB certified members are up to speed on these codes and provide the best possible products and services to customers.

In answer to building and fire code officials who have raised questions regarding a potential spread of fire over a fire-rated wall via a vinyl vapor retarder, MBMA’s insurance committee recently conducted testing at Omega Point Laboratories. These tests evaluated the fire performance at the junction of a one-hour fire-rated wall assembly and non-combustible metal roof panels. The test was terminated at one hour and 41 minutes, during which time no flame occurred on the unexposed surface of the wall or the roof at the joint. With the design used in this testing, builders have a powerful tool in their discussions with fire marshals.

·As more states and municipalities attempt to work through the complexities of “cool roof” issues, MBMA is working hard as a member of the Cool Metal Roofing Coalition. The mission of the Coalition is to unite the resources of the metals industry for education on the sustainable energy-related benefits of metal roofing. We need to spread the message of all the benefits that metal brings to the cool roof debate.

Also, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is working to incorporate rules to improve worker safety and traction  during the erection of metal roofs and decks. OSHA has stated that it will consider a voluntary compliance program if the metal building and roofing industries can provide feasible and effective recommendations to eliminate or minimize the presence of visible liquid lubricants and dry residues  that might increase the slipping hazard. Currently, many MBMA member companies are conducting trial tests with different lubricating oils and systems and will complete initial research by the end of the year. A report will be filed with OSHA during the first quarter of 2004.  We will report any progress as it develops.

As you can see, the MBMA is making great strides in the advancement of the metal building and roofing systems industries. We may not know exactly where the economy is heading, but the MBMA continues to forge straight ahead for its members, their contractors and their customers.

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