EPDs Provide a New Level of Environmental Transparency to Building Products

The sustainability movement has impacted the building industry in many ways. Today’s architects, owners and occupants have much greater expectations for the environmental performance of the buildings they design, operate and dwell in. Part of this expectation is focused on the components that make up the building. For example, did the wood come from responsibly harvested forests? Is the metal made of recycled material? Do the paint and interior finishes contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?

An Environmental Product Declaration, or EPD, is developed by applying a Product Category Rule, or PCR. PCRs are developed, maintained and warehoused by program operators. Examples of program operators include ASTM, CSA, ICC-ES, Environdec and UL Environment. Program operators also verify that an EPD and its associated life-cycle assessment conform with ISO 14025 and the ISO 14040 series. PCR development is commonly a collaborative effort between industry associations, manufacturers, and/or others.

An EPD is developed by applying a Product Category Rule. PCRs are developed, maintained and warehoused by program operators. Examples of program operators include ASTM, CSA, ICC-ES, Environdec and UL Environment. Program operators also verify that an EPD and its associated life-cycle assessment conform with ISO 14025 and the ISO 14040 series. PCR development is commonly a collaborative effort between industry associations, manufacturers, and/or others. IMAGE: Quantis US

Information technology has encouraged and facilitated this increased demand for in-depth data about building components and systems. People have become accustomed to being able to gather exhaustive information about the products they buy through extensive labeling or online research.

In response to the growing demand for environmental product information, building component manufacturers have begun rolling out environmental product declarations, or EPDs.

It’s a term now commonly heard, but what are they? EPDs are often spoken in the same breath as things like LCA (life-cycle assessment), PCRs (product category rules) and many other TLAs (three-letter acronyms). The fact is they are all related and are part of an ongoing effort to provide as much transparency as possible about what goes into the products that go in and on a building.

“An EPD is a specific document that informs the reader about the environmental performance of a product,” explains Sarah Mandlebaum, life-cycle analyst with Quantis US, the Boston-based branch of the global sustainability consulting firm Quantis. “It balances the need for credible and thorough information with the need to make such information reasonably understandable. The information provided in the document is based on a life-cycle assessment, or LCA, of the product, which documents the environmental impacts of that product from ‘cradle to grave.’ This includes impacts from material production, manufacturing, transportation, use and disposal of the product. An EPD is simply a standardized way of communicating the outcomes of such an assessment.”

The concept of product LCAs has been around for some time and has often been looked at as a way of determining the sustainability of a particular product by establishing the full scope of its environmental footprint. The basic idea is to closely catalog everything that goes into a product throughout its entire life. That means the energy, raw materials, and emissions associated with sourcing its materials, manufacturing it, transporting it, installing it and, ultimately, removing and disposing of it. In the end, an LCA results in a dizzying amount of data that can be difficult to translate or put in any context. EPDs are one way to help provide context and help put LCA data to use.

“The summary of environmental impact data in the form of an EPD can be analogous to a nutrition label on food,” says Scott Kriner, LEED AP, technical director of the Metal Construction Association (MCA), Chicago. “There is plenty of information on the label, but the information itself is meaningless unless one is focused on one area. An LCA determines the water, energy and waste involved in the extraction of raw materials, the manufacturing process, the transportation to a job site and the reclamation of waste at the end of the useful life of a product. With that data in hand, the various environmental impact categories can be determined and an EPD can be developed to summarize the environmental impact information.”

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Galvalume-coated Metal Roofs Will Last at Least 60 Years with Minimal Component Repair

The term “infrastructure sustainability” continues to gain importance because of rapidly increasing building infrastructure components around the country needing major repairs and/ or replacements. Consequently, roof maintenance or replacement materials and methods must last at least 60 years; consider LEED v4 from the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council. For more than 30 years, millions of square feet of Galvalume-coated roofs have resisted the atmospheric conditions to which they are exposed with little or no maintenance and are well prepared to continue protecting building interiors for more than 30 additional years. Material science and professional project engineering and installation prove Galvalume-coated metal standing-seam roofs will perform for that period of time.

This is a nine-year-old painted Galvalume roof in Alabama.

This is a nine-year-old painted Galvalume roof in Alabama.

MATERIAL SCIENCE

The first standing-seam metal roof was introduced by Armco Steel Corp., Middletown, Ohio, at the 1932 World’s Fair in Chicago. Armco Steel ceased doing business many years ago, but its standing-seam metal roof design has been adopted by all manufacturers in today’s commercial metal roofing market. The second longest-lasting introduction into this market was in the early 1970s when Bethlehem, Pa.-based Bethlehem Steel introduced a Zinc/Aluminum coating—now known as Galvalume—for carbon-steel metal roofs. This coating, applied to both sides of the steel coil, has been successfully used for the majority of metal standing-seam roofs ever since.

Since Galvalume was introduced, there have been several evaluations, reports and predictions as to how this product would “weather” the test of time. In 2012, the Chicago-based Metal Construction Association (MCA) and Olympia, Wash.-based Zinc Aluminum Coaters Association (ZAC) commissioned a study to perform forensic tests at 14 existing Galvalume standing-seam metal roof sites throughout the country in varying climates and precipitation pH. The average age of these roofs was more than 30 years at the time of testing.

Initially, the sites were selected based on temperature and humidity zones throughout the U.S. As the field results were processed, however, it became apparent the expected lives of these roofs were directly dependent on the precipitation pH levels with very little correlation to temperature and humidity. The building sites chosen were located in the following states:

  • Massachusetts (2 sites)
    This Galvalume roof in Missouri is nine years old.

    This Galvalume roof in Missouri is nine-years old.


    Ohio (3 sites)
    South Carolina (2 sites)
    Georgia (1 site)
    Colorado (1 site)
    New Mexico (1 site)
    Arizona (1 site)
    Oregon (1 site)
    Wyoming (2 sites)

The study was directed by MCA and three independent consultants and their firms, which managed and performed the field work: Rob Haddock of Metal Roof Advisory Group, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Ron Dutton of Ron Dutton Consulting Services LLC, Annapolis, Md.; and me and my firm Metal Roof Consultants Inc., Cary, N.C. This group, plus Scott Kriner, MCA’s technical director, authored the actual report, which was issued by MCA and ZAC in November 2014 and is available online.

The team harvested and analyzed actual field samples of Galvalume-coated metal standing-seam roof panel materials and sealants and examined all the individual roofs’ ancillary components. Finally, it created an experienced assessment of the roofs’ conditions and associated costs to replace.

PHOTOS: METAL ROOF CONSULTANTS INC.

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MCA Bestows Patrick R. Bush Award to Jeff Irwin of Metl-Span

Jeff Irwin, executive vice president and general manager of the Architectural Panel Division at Metl-Span, was the recipient of the 2015 Patrick R. Bush Award presented at the Metal Construction Association winter meeting in Palm Springs, Calif.

The Patrick R. Bush Service Award recognizes one individual from a member company who has recently made significant volunteer contributions to the MCA.

Irwin is a 35-year veteran in the metal wall and roofing industry and has worked 24 years in the insulated metal panel industry. He currently serves as the chairman of the Insulated Metal Panel Council and has been deeply involved in MCA for two decades, serving on the board of directors and as president, vice president and secretary-treasurer. Irwin was cited for being “committed to the Insulated Metal Panel Council and a strong, consistent supporter of METALCON.”

METALCON to Provide New Ideas and Opportunities in Metal Construction

METALCON is only a few weeks away and excitement is building about the many new ideas and opportunities it offers. The event is in Denver for the first time, its new education format combines classroom and exhibit hall sessions, interactive roofing competitions keep the action going in the exhibit hall, and the line-up of exhibitors and products is bigger and better than ever.

METALCON takes place Oct. 1-3 at the Colorado Convention Center in the heart of Denver. It is the only annual international event offering education and product exhibits focused on the use of metal in construction. Visitors from more than 52 countries come to METALCON each year to learn about the top trends in metal from industry experts. METALCON is produced by Newton, MA-based PSMJ Resources, Inc., a leading authority on the effective management of architecture, engineering and construction firms; and sponsored by the Metal Construction Association, an organization of manufacturers and suppliers headquartered in Chicago.

Two Denver-area exhibitors are spearheading a Colorado Coalition with construction-related organizations in the Rocky Mountain area. Their objective is to bring awareness of METALCON to Colorado, welcome the industry to Denver, and drive attendance. Heading up the Coalition are Kristin Peregoy, Marketing Manager for Denver-based New Tech Machinery and Keith Lipps, Vice President of Colorado Springs-based S-5! Solutions! Also involved are local and state roofing associations, including those from Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Montana and surrounding states. COSEIA, the Colorado chapter of SEIA, is also involved as are local AIA, BOMA and IFMA groups.

During the show the Coalition will offer giveaways each day for Colorado-based activities, in the New Tech and S-5! Booths, 606 and 810 respectively. Topping off the Coalition’s festivities is a welcoming party on Wednesday, October 1, from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Colorado Convention Center. The party will feature Colorado foods, beers, Denver Broncos cheerleaders, and music by “The Fab 4,” a Beatles tribute band.

A new series of daily programs takes place in Learning Zones located in the exhibit hall. Topics for these 15-minute sessions focus on technical applications and solutions such as using protective films on metal roofs, flashing details, snow retention systems, software and systems for steel framing, truss component technology, utility applications on standing seam roofs, and matching tools and applications. Learning Zones are strategically placed to allow visitors to capture as many sessions as possible while still having time to peruse product exhibits. Learning Zone 1 is located in Booth 2117 and sponsored by MBCI; Learning Zone 2 is in Booth 341.

A lively, new feature is the MCA’s Metal Roofing Championship Games that include four different competitions on Wednesday and Thursday, October 1 and 2 beginning at 1:30 p.m. in Booth 1835. These interactive programs draw volunteers from the audience to compete against each other for prizes of cash or product. They involve fastening screws into purlins, seaming standing seam panels, installing rubber roof jacks and placing PV clamps on a metal roof. The games are designed to show that with the right techniques, tools and products, metal roofing can be easily and accurately installed. More action in the METALCON exhibit hall takes place in Solar Bay Live, Booth 846, an area dedicated to products and demos related to using metal roofing with solar installations.

The METALCON conference program includes 90-minute classroom sessions focused on what CEOs, presidents and managers need to know to move their companies forward. Topping the list is keynote speaker Steven S. Little, a sought after expert on the subject of long-term business growth. His session takes place Wednesday, October 1, from 10:15 to 11:45 a.m. Steven’s personable approach engages the audience and invigorates them to act on their business goals.

On Thursday, Gene Marks, a well-known columnist, author and small business owner, highlights the program with two information-packed presentations: “Sales and Marketing Technologies That Will Improve Your Business,” and “Top Trends That Affect Your Business Opportunities and Growth.”

Many of the conference presenters are from the Denver region including Rob Haddock, President of the Metal Roof Advisory Group offering “Understanding Metal Roofing Parts I and II”; and Paul Collyer, President of Panelmet Consulting, LLC, sharing his expertise on “Improving Sales by Understanding Body Language.” Several key people from the Denver office of FMI Corporation offer high-level topics including “Developing Business Leadership”; “Using a Strategic Plan to Keep Business on Course”; and “Overcoming the Workforce Shortage.”

Experts from the 275 exhibiting companies will share their knowledge of products and field applications with attendees. The line- up includes 53 businesses that have not exhibited in METALCON before or are returning after a multi-year absence. These include Butler Manufacturing and companies offering their products to METALON visitors for the first time.

Metal Construction Association to Hold Summer Meeting in June

The Metal Construction Association (MCA) will hold its 2014 Summer Meeting (previously called the Semi-Annual Meeting) June 23-25, 2014, at the Westin O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill., near Chicago. Look for additional information about the Summer Meeting soon on MCA’s new website.

MCA is a volunteer-led organization with much of the work achieved through strong leadership by its board of directors and member-driven councils and committees. Meetings are typically held in January and mid-year. These events include interactive council and committee sessions with discussion of current work in development, where important actions and activities are addressed.

In addition to meetings, MCA’s major annual event is the METALCON International Exhibition and Conference, which provides product exhibits, educational programs, and demonstrations of the latest field techniques and trends for designers, builders, developers, contractors, fabricators, and suppliers from around the world. METALCON is the only show devoted entirely to the use of metal in construction. The 2014 event is scheduled for Oct. 1-3 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

The Metal Construction Association brings together a diverse industry for the purpose of expanding the use of metal in construction through marketing, research and technology and education. Companies involved in MCA gain tremendous benefit from association activities that focus on research, codes and standards, market development, and technical programs. MCA’s market development efforts increase the use of metal materials in construction through the education of the building and design communities about the benefits of metal.

Free Metal Education and Technical Resources Available on MCA’s Website

The Metal Construction Association (MCA) offers several new technical bulletins and white papers on its website. MCA continues to update its Education/Technical Resources section on the website, addressing practical and educational topics related to the metal construction industry, including working with metal roofing, insulated metal panels, metal composite materials, fasteners, fabricating, machinery operation and many others. All technical resources are available for download as a pdf document at no charge.

New resources include:

    The technical bulletin “Roof Covering Repair Requirements and the International Code” offers input on what types of metal roof repair materials are required on an existing roof and what code supporting language exists. The two-page document briefly outlines the relevant portions of the 2012 International Existing Building Code for those who have questions about repairing a roof within code.

    “Choosing Between Fire Retardant and Standard Core Metal Composite Material” is a six-page white paper that clarifies the allowable uses for standard and fire retardant MCM in accordance with the 2006-2012 editions of the International Building Code. Developed by MCA’s MCM Fabricator Council, the paper includes detailed diagrams on several standard MCM core installation options.

    The six-page technical white paper “Insulated Metal Panels and NFPA 285” provides information on testing IMPs in accordance with NFPA 285. Specific IMPs have been tested and meet the conditions of acceptance of NFPA 285. This paper provides background on how when the “basic” IMP panel system meets NFPA 285, minor variations in items can be allowed without retesting or an analysis.

    “Proper Tools for Fastening Metal Panels” is a two-page technical bulletin that is intended to be a guide to proper fastening of metal panels to wood or metal frame buildings. Several illustrations indicate how to properly tighten fasteners and recommended tools are discussed.

MCA Elects Officers and Board of Directors at Annual Meeting

The Metal Construction Association (MCA), an organization of manufacturers and suppliers whose metal wall and roofing components are used in buildings throughout the world, elected its 2014 officers and board of directors at its Annual Meeting on Jan. 27 in Clearwater Beach, Fla.

Karl L. Hielscher, president/CEO of Metl-Span, Lewisville, Texas, was elected chair of the association. Norbert Schneider, president of Umicore Building Products, Raleigh, N.C., was elected vice-chair and Ed Karper, North American coil marketing manager for Akzo Nobel Coatings Inc., Columbus, Ohio, will serve as secretary. Dale Nelson, president of Roof Hugger Inc., Odessa, Fla., was elected treasurer. Todd E. Miller, president of Isaiah Industries Inc., Piqua, Ohio, will serve as past chair. Also serving on the Executive Committee is Bill Croucher, director of engineering for Fabral, Lancaster, Pa., as technical committee chair; Renee Ramey, marketing manager for Steelscape Inc., Kalama, Wash., as market development chair, and Bill Hippard, vice president of sales at Precoat Metals, St. Louis, as president of the Metal Roofing Alliance.

In addition to the officers, those serving on the 2014 MCA Board of Directors include the following: Jim Bush, ATAS International, Allentown, Pa.; Bill Croucher; Jerry Hatley Jr., International Metals Processing LLC, Indianapolis; Bill Hippard; Laurel McLallen, Flexospan Inc., Sandy Lake, Pa.; Brian Partyka, Drexel Metals Inc., Ivyland, Pa.; Renee Ramey; Roger Sieja, Wismarq Corp., Inverness, Ill.; Vlad Sobot, Sobotec Ltd., Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; David Stermer, Metal Sales Manufacturing Corp., Louisville, Ky.; Don Switzer, Steel Dynamics, Butler, Ind.; Jim Tuschall, Tuschall Engineering, Burr Ridge, Ill.; and Bob Zabcik, MBCI, Houston.

Laurel McLallen, David Stermer and Bob Zabcik are all new additions to the board this year. “MCA welcomes the insight and input from our new board members,” says Karl Hielscher, MCA chair. “We look forward to the contributions from this talented group of metal construction industry professionals.”

Metal Construction Association Honors Members with Volunteer Service Awards

The Metal Construction Association (MCA) honored two of its members—Randy Ridenour and Dale Nelson—with prestigious volunteer service awards, the Larry A. Swaney Award and the Patrick R. Bush Volunteer Service Award, respectively, at its recent Annual Meeting.

The Larry A. Swaney Award honors one of MCA founders and its first president who was committed to fostering growth and enhancing the betterment of metal construction. “This year we present this award to someone who has brought significant business acumen to the MCA board and has been involved in MCA’s long-term success in growing the markets we serve and making sure MCA has always been fiscally responsible: Randy Ridenour of Atlas Bolt & Screw,” said MCA Chair Karl Hielscher, during the presentation on Jan. 27.

Since 2003, this award has been presented to a person who has worked unselfishly for the success of the association and the betterment of the metal construction industry. Past Swaney Award recipients include:

  • 2013 Ted S. Miller
    2012 Sid Peterson
    2011 Dick Bus
    2010 Patrick R. Bush
    2008 Delbert F. Boring
    2006 Harold Schroth
    2005 Bill Croucher
    2004 Sam W. Milnark
    2003 John Mattingly

Colleagues praised Ridenour for serving as a longtime active member of the MCA board of directors and providing ongoing support for all MCA activities throughout the years. He was noted for being a proponent of continuous recruitment of more professionals involved in the association. One colleague said, “His judgment and recommendations where always taken into consideration and he made a difference on important issues.”

The Patrick R. Bush Service Award was established to honor Pat Bush, a longtime MCA board member and past Larry A. Swaney Award winner who passed away suddenly in 2010. The award recognizes one individual from a member company who has recently made significant volunteer contributions to the Metal Construction Association. “This year we honor a volunteer who has been involved with the METALCON conference for many years and was the longtime chair of the METALCON Liaison Committee for MCA: Dale Nelson of Roof Hugger Inc.,” said MCA Chair Hielscher.

Past Bush Award recipients include:

  • 2012 Robert Anderson
    2011 Jim Bush

Colleagues commended Nelson for his willingness to volunteer for the METALCON Demo area. “He always puts the association position ahead of personal and organizational gains,” said one nominator.”Dale has excellent organizational skills and is always looking for ways to enhance the METALCON brand among a broader audience.”

The awards presentation took place during the Awards Dinner at the MCA 2014 Annual Meeting in Clearwater, Fla. The meeting was attended by more than 125 current members, interested parties and guests. In addition to the presentation of service awards, the meeting focused on elections of officers and board of directors; vital industry discussions within Council and Committee agendas, especially technical and codes and standards initiatives and market development activities; a state of the association report; and various networking opportunities.

MCA’s next national meeting is the 2014 Semi-Annual Meeting, scheduled for June 23-25, 2014, at the Westin O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill.