Steel has become a universal building product due to its strength, versatility, durability and economic value. Among its most popular uses today are standing seam metal roofs.
Standing seam metal roofs are fast becoming the material of choice for countless structures. In fact, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute, the roofing system has been used in nearly 50% of all low-rise commercial, industrial and institutional buildings erected in the last several years. Standing seam metal roofing can now be seen on virtually every type of building, from shopping centers and schools to churches and libraries. The system currently accounts for well over one billion square feet.
This acceptance has carried over to the re-roofing market where standing seam roofs have been used successfully as replacements for built-up and single ply systems.
In retrofit projects where costly tear-offs want to be avoided, a sub-framing system is attached to the existing roof surface to provide a minimum ¼:12 pitch for the new metal roof.
The use of metal roofing is growing rapidly because steel offers a variety of benefits. One is its aesthetic appeal. The standing seam roof is one of the most attractive roofing systems for almost any building. It is available in a wide range of finishes, color and profiles, providing building owners and architects with extensive design flexibility.
Another of metal roofing’s benefits is its long service life. As a result of the zinc, aluminum, or aluminum-zinc alloy metallic coating applied to the base steel, today’s metal roof panels resist corrosion and provide a service life of 20 years or more of trouble-free performance, considerably longer than the standard protection for built-up and single ply systems.
Metal roofs are also very cost effective. Standing seam steel roofs pay for themselves from the day they are installed. Their life expectancy is long, they require little or no maintenance, and their life cycle costs are low, especially compared to non-metal alternatives in low slope applications.
Metal roofs are also energy efficient, especially when used in “cool roof” applications. Cool metal roofs feature heat-deflecting coatings that decrease unwanted heat build-up inside a building, thereby reducing cooling loads. Based on research on cool metal roofing, the reflectivity and emissivity of steel roofs have been proven to provide significant savings in energy consumption.
While building owners and architects have long recognized steel for its strength, durability and functionality, they are now increasingly recognizing another of steel’s important attributes – its environmental benefits.
The recycled content for steel used in metal roofs and walls, for example, is at least 25%. This level of recycled content reduces both the cost and environmental impact of making new steel, as it conserves energy and other natural raw materials.
The fact that the recycled content of steel is at least 25% by weight helps earn points in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental and Energy Desgin (LEED) program. Steel’s recycled content is especially important when it is compared to other materials such as concrete, which has a recycled content of only 3% (fly ash) and even less when the weight of the recycled material is factored in.
Steel is also 100% recyclable at the end of its long, useful life. In fact, of the metals used in roofs and walls, steel is the most recycled. Easily separated from other materials via magnetics, steel is reclaimed through a vast collection and processing network.
Every ton of steel recycled saves over 4,000 pounds of raw materials, including 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone. And, according to the EPA, new steel made with recycled material uses as little as 26% of the amount of energy that would be required to make steel from iron and other materials extracted from nature. In addition, the original embodied energy of steel products is amortized as steel is recycled again and again into new steel products.