Insulated Metal Panels: An All-In-One Air and Water Barrier

Ideal for both retrofits and new construction as an all-in-one air and water barrier with continuous insulation, roof and wall insulated metal panels deliver a plethora of performance, erection, durability, and aesthetic benefits
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Sponsored by Metal Construction Association, Insulated Metal Panel Funders Group
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Ready-Made Retrofits

Among the numerous commercial, industrial, and institutional applications benefiting from IMPs, the technology is particularly suitable for retrofits as well.

“Advantages include the potential speed of erection, the thermal performance gains from adding a new insulation layer and very good thermal breaks, and the capability of the system to provide large panel size and span,” states Krumdieck. “In particular situations, the IMP panels can also provide both the exterior and interior finish, which could reduce overall wall or roof assembly costs.”

“IMPs are a good choice for retrofits due to the one-step application and fast construction time in replacing existing roof and wall systems,” agrees Harrell. “They can provide a fresh look for tired buildings and are a substantial upgrade in building performance.”

Furthermore, Jabbawy notes that because the product is lightweight, it can replace most existing masonry envelopes without structural changes. And because IMPs are offered as prefabricated large units, they can meet expedited erection schedules, which is often a critical factor for retrofits.

“Also, since the system provides both the surface closure and the insulation element of the envelope, it allows for the application of the material on top of existing envelope construction or even as a replacement for existing construction, while minimizing the trades involved in the envelope building sequence,” he adds.

Case in point, on a recent retrofit pursuing LEED certification with requirements to meet stringent energy code requirements, Studio Ma realized that continuous exterior insulation using another system would have been too difficult and costly. In selecting IMPs, the contractors were able to install the new cladding from the existing floor, achieving the required energy and weather performance, with a nice aesthetic to boot.

On Bailey Edward’s docket, the firm recently renovated a college academic building, capitalizing on the ability to provide both an exterior finish and continuous insulation over an exposed steel frame.

“We saw a dramatic decrease in energy transfer from the interior to the exterior as evidenced by infrared thermography of before and after the reclad,” relates Whitehurst. “We utilized the panels to cover the existing ceramic tile on concrete block and exposed steel, and as spandrels above and below a new curtain wall system.”

On another retrofit project for California’s Department of Motor Vehicles in Sacramento, IMPs easy installation helped enable the site to continue functioning throughout the large campus-wide retrofit.

As part of a major $130-million LEED-certified upgrade, the Sacramento-based architect Lionakis selected IMPs on a 520,000-square-foot building for its performance, aesthetics, and sustainability features, in addition to its applicability to seismic-prone regions. In fact, the particular IMP product that was specified incorporates a tongue-and-groove design that is attached on one side, thereby granting the panels slight movement in order to minimize potential damage in the event of an earthquake.

The highly insulated system also significantly cuts down on heating and cooling expenses as compared to the old building skin.

As another example of IMPs’ durability features, the technology was chosen for the rebuilding of Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina flooding in New Orleans.

In building a new hurricane-proof building capable of withstanding winds in excess of 130 mph, the architect Eskew+Dumez+Ripple replaced the existing concrete exterior surface of the six-story, 133,640-square-foot East Tower with IMPs and curtain wall glazing.

“We felt that the language of the building needed to relay that message of cutting-edge medical services while restoring a sense of confidence and presence in the city,” states Amanda Rivera, AIA, LEED AP, associate, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, New Orleans, “The material of the metal building skin afforded this contemporary tectonic and made the statement of not only restoration, but also one of durability and permanence.”

In addition to meeting hurricane loads and code requirements for structure, air, water, and impact performance, the fabricator was able to segment the panels in order to support the main facade, which was curved with a large radius. Selecting shorter-length straight panels, which were curved, in place of radiused panels saved on project costs while still delivering a modern aesthetic.

More IMPs in Action

While very applicable for upgrades and retrofits, IMPs are a popular choice for new construction across many market segments.

With fast-paced, simplified construction and erection, and a full range of building enclosure benefits, IMPs are frequently considered for projects seeking an economic yet attractive building facade.

In meeting today’s building code requirements, product performance, aesthetics, function, and budget, IMPs fit very well into all these categories, concludes Jay Smith, vice president of sales, Metl-Span, Lewisville, Texas.

Metal Construction Association logo.

The Metal Construction Association’s Insulated Metal Panel Funders Group comprises leading manufacturers, resellers, and suppliers who are dedicated to growing the use of insulated metal panels (IMPs).


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in May 2017