Metal’s Role in Sustainable Design
Sustainable design is defined as: Design that seeks to reduce negative impacts on the environment and the health and comfort of building occupants, thereby improving building performance.
The idea of taking care of the earth and making it a better place through our built environment has been embraced by the architectural community. The United States Green Building Council has recognized the importance of this concept by developing the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.
Metal construction products contribute considerably to the sustainable design movement. Their high recycled content, recyclability, fully developed distribution networks, and energy efficiency allow them to qualify for points in the LEED program. As increasing numbers of architects design LEED-qualified buildings they are looking for construction products and systems that can help them gain higher levels of certification. Metal construction products meet these standards.
But not everyone recognizes that. So the Metal Construction Association has taken the lead in promoting metal’s sustainable benefits. Through research, education and marketing, MCA has set the groundwork for metal to be widely embraced as a long-standing green building material.
MCA’s work in this area includes:
- Helping to establish the Cool Metal Roofing Coalition, fund related research and marketing programs and remain active with the coalition.
- Assisting The Metal Initiative (www.themetaliniative.com), an affiliated MCA marketing initiative, in promoting metal’s environmental benefits to the commercial building market.
- Participating in national initiatives aimed at expanding the visibility of metal and its benefits to the design and build community.
- Working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory since the late 1990s on product evaluation, new product development, and applications research that has helped create high performance products, energy efficient buildings, and a lower carbon footprint through the use of metal building products.
- Being an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council.
- Ensuring the correct data for metal and related assemblies is accurately portrayed on various LCA calculators. LCA or Life Cycle Assessment is an environmental impact assessment tool for materials and assemblies.
- Creating an MCA Sustainability Council that is a platform through which metal’s green attributes can be promoted outside of the metal-construction industry by:
Advising members on how to with market their products as green;
Showing members how to become more sustainable in their operations and manufacturing processes;
Consulting with other MCA councils and committees about sustainability issues and what is needed to broaden metal’s market share;
Coordinating sustainability initiatives with related organizations,
such as the Copper Development Association, American Zinc
Association, National Coil Coating Association, and the National
Roofing Contractors Association; and
Developing a Green Industry Definitions document and making it available to all who wish to download it from the MCA Web site.