The Magic of Metal in Architectural Design – Part 3 (No More Thermal Bridging)
Insulated metal panels enhance building envelope performance, prevent thermal bridging, and promote sustainability.
My previous post on the use of metal in architectural design focused on the material’s aesthetic flexibility. Though designers place a high value on the looks of a facility, they must also consider more practical matters, such as how a material impacts building enclosure performance.
Newer, more stringent energy codes prohibit thermal bridging, which happens when a poorly insulated material allows heat or cold to pass through it. When that happens, the HVAC system works harder to heat or cool a space. The ultimate result is higher operational expenses.
Thus, designers must identify materials that prevent thermal bridging, but still achieve our aesthetic objectives. One wise choice is foamed-in-place metal panels, which create a continuous layer of insulation outside the wall—since there are no gaps in the metal, there is virtually no thermal bridging. That translates to reduced energy costs.
Another peripheral benefit of insulated metal panels is lower construction costs: the panels’ light weight enables a more efficient installation process. The panels also have a great deal of recycled content and are highly recyclable.
One example of a strong use of metal panels is the Wilmette Public Works administrative office expansion. The two- and three-inch-thick foam insulated metal panels that clad the facility continue the design vocabulary of a ten-year-old renovation, and convey a crisp, modern image to passersby. Their insulation properties also contributed to the project becoming one of the first public works facilities to achieve LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Contact us to learn more about metal and other material design options, or comment below to share your thoughts on this post.