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Looking Forward: MBMA’s Role in the Metal Building Industry’s Plan for the Future
July 11, 2000

Looking Forward: MBMA’s Role in the Metal Building Industry’s Plan for the Future
Len George, MBMA Chairman


 The face of industry is changing with the new millennium, and the construction industry is no exception.  New levels of sophistication and complexity are constantly evolving, from the design and engineering of various construction projects to the codes and standards that guide the industry.

Metal construction is witness to this development, and the Metal Building Manufacturers Association is helping the metal construction industry manage the growing complexity.

Organized in 1956, MBMA serves building systems manufacturers, metal roofing systems manufacturers and associate member suppliers. Its building systems membership represents more than $2.6 billion in annual steel shipments and accounts for 55.9 percent of the total non-residential low-rise construction marketplace.  This majority percentage illustrates that metal building systems are now the preferred means of design and construction for low-rise, non-residential construction in the United States, appearing in industrial, commercial, institutional and municipal structures, as well as other applications, across the nation.

MBMA is the catalyst that aids building and roofing firms in focusing their ideas, extensive knowledge and experience, creativity, and resources to foster industry leadership and innovation.


In addition to facilitating the focusing of member company energies on innovation and growth, MBMA sponsors extensive research to advance the performance of metal buildings in extreme conditions, demonstrating intense dedication to quality, flexible and dependable metal building and roofing systems.

MBMA is currently sponsoring 15 research projects, underway at seven universities and testing laboratories across the country.  Past research contributions have included the wind tunnel testing at the University of Western Ontario, significant for its introduction of a new technique, pneumatic averaging, enabling the definition of loads in terms of tributary area, such as point loads, purlin loads, and bay loads.

MBMA’s director of research and engineering, Dr. W. Lee Shoemaker, has been working with the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI), Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA), International Council of Building Officials (ICBO), and the International Code Council (ICC) as the United States works towards one international building code.  MBMA sponsored research, including the wind tunnel studies noted above, has made a significant contribution to the loads specified for low-rise buildings in these codes.


In the interest of providing the momentum for its member companies to grow in providing the best quality for metal building and roofing systems users, MBMA has established two major certification programs.  The goal of these programs is to provide a uniform, nationally recognized, quality certification program for metal building systems and roofing systems manufacturers that integrate engineering expertise with quality crafted building and roofing systems products.   MBMA members in the buildings category are required to maintain AISC-MB certification as a reflection of their commitment to designing and manufacturing systems of the highest quality.  This program has been in place since 1988 and recently became a membership requirement for all members.

A certification program for roofing systems manufacturers currently is being implemented.  MBMA’s goal with this program is to lead the industry and obtain 100% roofing member certification by August 2002.


MBMA updated the Low-Rise Building Systems Manual in 1996 to aid designers and architects in employing metal systems in their projects. This manual, first published in 1959, has been the guiding force for the industry.  It provides the most comprehensive review of current design practices for all types of non-residential buildings up to 60 feet high.

The Metal Roofing Systems Design Manual will debut in October, featuring sections including but not limited to system components, specifications and standards, design, and installation of roofing systems.  Metal roofing details are included, representing the industry’s best design practices.


MBMA sponsors or hosts several seminars each year in the interest of providing continuing education for member and non-member professionals.  Sessions employ a wide variety of subjects and formats, covering topics important to architects, engineers and specifiers.  One such seminar was held in Chicago this July to bring metal building designers up to date on the new seismic requirements of the International Building Code.

“Metal Building Architecture: Effective Design Techniques” will be held in Portland, Ore., on October 13, 2000, and in Indianapolis on October 27, 2000. Each attendee receives a complimentary copy of the Low-Rise Building Systems CD-ROM and a copy of “Concrete Walls for Metal Buildings,” together valued at $110.

MBMA also is presenting a seminar on the design of standing seam metal roofing systems at the Metalcon International trade show in Atlanta this October.  More than 8,000 attendees convene every year to take advantage of Metalcon’s seminars.


MBMA has been working with a coalition of steel construction associations to address the issues of OSHA’s new steel erection regulations.  The coalition has been concentrating its efforts on testing methods to evaluate slip resistance, and in ways to minimize the effects of lubricating oils on metal roofing and decking products.


MBMA and the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) have sponsored a series of fire tests at Underwriters Laboratory and Factory Mutual to develop metal building construction details and/or sprinkler requirements to insure that the necessary fire ratings are achieved.  Metal roofing systems are also tested to high standards to determine the uplift capacity resulting in good performance in extreme winds.  Insurers need to know about the remarkable progress the metal building industry has made in recent years to produce a structure that is not only functional and pleasing to the eye but also a technically advanced system providing one of the best low-rise construction alternatives available.


MBMA maintains communication with its members and publics in a variety of ways, not the least of which is its website at  The site houses information about MBMA research, members, publications and industry trends.  The MBMA site also features a photo gallery and links to related sites, as well as order forms for the many publications described in detail.  In addition to numerous print publications, MBMA offers videos on metal building and roofing systems for those considering specification of a metal structure, and those simply interested in learning more about the systems.

MBMA is in the process of updating the website to enhance the online experience of the considerable number of visitors it receives.

The demands of an ever-changing industry require MBMA to be a partner with its members and a coordinating force for mutual growth and development.  MBMA’s contributions to the metal construction industry, in the form of research, member support, and a variety of educational efforts, have secured its place in the future of the industry as a whole.

For more information about MBMA, visit or call 216-241-7333.

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