Retrofit refers to the process of upgrading an existing building’s exterior to provide a newly engineered system that meets current energy codes. Retrofit is a proven technology supported by existing case studies and third party testing and research that show its value in improving a building’s energy efficiency.
Although retrofit applications for exterior walls have been used successfully for many years, the increasing emphasis on energy efficiency and improving building performance has expanded its popularity among building owners and developers. They now realize that retrofit can easily bring an existing building up to code while dramatically improving its appearance.
Retrofitting the exterior walls of a building with metal offers a high-level of durability due to the long-life of metal and the high-performance coating systems now offered on metal wall panels. They offer decades of service and gloss retention features. When used in retrofit applications the metal panel’s light weight reduces or eliminates the need to alter existing structural elements.
Metal wall panels also offer a wide range of design options to enhance a building’s curb appeal. These include a variety of materials, substrates, colors, and textures and the ability of metal wall panels to be installed horizontally or vertically.
Preformed panels are roll-formed at a manufacturing facility into shapes and sizes for the project and are shipped ready to install. They can be made from steel, aluminum, copper, or zinc and can employ solar thermal systems when installed on vertical planes.
Insulated metal panels (IMPs) are another option. An IMP is a strong, single unit constructed of a rigid core of polyurethane or polyisocyanurate insulation foam adhered between two sheets of metal that provides an exceptionally strong building enclosure. The panels are typically made of steel or aluminum and achieve greater thermal resistance than other systems. They are available in a wide range of color and size options and are used in architectural enhancement applications as well. IMPs offer the highest insulating value per inch of all wall products; a 2-inch-thick IMP meets most building requirements.
Panels made of metal composite material also provide exceptional architectural enhancements for existing buildings. They offer a high level of flatness and are formed by bonding two metal skins to a plastic core. The skins can be made from a multitude of metals, including aluminum, zinc, copper, stainless, and titanium.
Another option for retrofit wall applications is integrating solar thermal systems. They combine the benefits of metal panels – durability, color options, custom sizing – with the same solar recovery options as rooftop solar systems. These include solar heating for air, water or process needs. A solar heat recovery system can supply energy for either the whole building or a portion of it.
Designing and installing retrofit solar wall systems is as simple as those on a roof, but does require evaluation of the building positioning and vertical orientation of the panels.
Today more building owners, developers and property managers are applying new metal wall panels over existing exteriors to improve a building’s energy efficiency and appearance. With one retrofit application an existing building can have a new look and meet the increasingly tougher building codes.