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2018 State of the Industry

Every year, we ask industry experts to look at the trends and and movements in the our market that will affect our readers

Every year, Metal Construction News asks industry experts to present their ideas on where the industry will go in the next few years. This year, our experts look at a growing economy that still sometimes sputters, code regulations that need constant vigilance and a sustainability movement that continues to demonstrate significant growth.

Anirban Basu

Better Business Climate Expectations Help Drive Asset Prices Higher

By Anirban Basu, Chief Economist, Associated Builders and Contractors

If someone were casting roles for a production of “The Tortoise and the Hare,” the U.S. economy would be a favorite to play the tortoise. While this analogy may be a bit harsh, economic growth remains mostly slow, but persistent.

It was not always this way. Based on recently revised data characterizing U.S. GDP, the economy came close to the magical 3 percent threshold—one that it had failed to cross since 2005—by expanding 2.9 percent in 2015. The year prior, the U.S. economy expanded 2.6 percent. That’s better than turtle speed.

However, last year, the U.S. economy only managed 1.5 percent growth. It then expanded just 1.2 percent during 2017’s initial quarter on an annualized basis, the latest in a string of weak first quarters. In other words, for more than a year, the U.S. economy has been consistently growing at less than 2 percent: enter tortoise stage right.


Andy William (left) and Scott Kriner

A Year of Change

By Scott Kriner, Technical Director, and

Andy Williams, Director of Codes and Standards, Metal Construction Association

We expect 2018 will be a year of many changes in the construction world for members of the Metal Construction Association (MCA). While 2017 was a relatively quiet year for changes in the building codes and test standards across the U.S., we expect 2018 will more than make up for the break.

On April 15-25, committee action hearings for the International Building Code Council will take place in Columbus, Ohio. This year, the nonstructural (Group A) proposals will be presented and voted on. This will include proposals for the International Building Code (IBC). With the Grenfell tragedy in England and several other fires in high-rise buildings around the world, it is anticipated that there will be a significant number of proposed modifications to the code. We are fortunate in the U.S. that many of the issues identified as problem areas in other parts of the world have been addressed to some extent in the IBC.


Daniel J. Walker, PE

W. Lee Shoemaker, Ph.D., PE

Building the Future: Significant Progress on 2018 Initiatives Will Help Shape Codes and Standards in the Future

By Dan Walker, PE, and

W. Lee Shoemaker, Ph.D., PE, Metal Building Manufacturers Association

With the adoption of the 2018 International Building Code (IBC), the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) will now move forward with continued research initiatives that will help shape codes and standards through the next decade and beyond. Here are some of the influential research activities that will spur future change.

Seismic Behavior

Our goal with seismic research is to expand the limits where metal building frames are considered appropriate in higher seismic regions and to drive the methodology for designing metal building frames into the next generation. MBMA made great strides in 2017 to determine the appropriate seismic design parameters that should be used for our frame types. Dr. Vahid Meimand, NBM Technologies, Blacksburg, Va., has made enormous progress in the development of tools and analytical processes required by FEMA P695, which is the process used to qualify such designs for code approval.

The MBMA Seismic Steering Committee has established the first three prototypes for metal buildings intended for processing through the analytical modeling methodology. Preliminary results are very promising and the MBMA Technical Committee is excited about the prospect of producing beneficial results from this massive research effort. We are hopeful the results of this work will be even better performing frame systems that are also competitive in the marketplace.


2018 Drives Demand as the Year of the Durable Home

If 2017 taught us anything, it was that 2018 should be crowned the Year of the Durable Home.

By Renee Ramey, Executive Director, Metal Roofing Alliance

Last year, the U.S. suffered horrific disasters ranging from Hurricane Irma in the south, to wildfires throughout the west, extending well into the winter months. Even regions that haven’t experienced emergency weather situations faced unprecedented heat waves, odd cold snaps and strange precipitation patterns. For many areas of the country, energy efficiency also continues to be a major priority, especially in regions with wildly fluctuating temperatures.


Alan Scott, FAIA

Opacity, Elasticity, Transparency

By Alan Scott, FAIA, Senior Associate, WSP

Our New Year’s resolutions often focus on prosperity, fitness and wellbeing. My outlook for the building industry in 2018 is no different. I see our business focusing on building performance, including envelope design, the fortitude of our communities and buildings in the face of shocks, and on the ability of our built environment to support health and well-being (from community and building design, down to material selection).

Less Glass is More

After years of designs trending toward glazing, sleek buildings based on floor-toceiling, wall-to-wall glass, I think 2018 will see a reversal. Architects are turning toward expressive enclosures with more dependence on malleable materials like metal, and less on large sheets of glass. This presents several advantages:


Ralph DiNola

Zero Energy Buildings on the Rise

By Ralph DiNola, New Buildings Institute

At New Buildings Institute, we have been focusing on zero energy buildings since 2010. Our first Getting to Zero Status Update and Buildings List, which reported on the national trends in zero energy (ZE) buildings, appeared in 2012 and our most recent report was just published in January. In that time, we have witnessed a 700 percent increase in projects that are either verified or emerging ZE projects. Verified projects have produced measured energy use data proving that the building only uses as much energy as can be produced through on-site renewable generation resources over the course of a year. Emerging project have a stated goal of achieving ZE, but are still under construction or not fully occupied for a year.

Our count of buildings in both categories is near 500 and through our study, we have identified and reported on trends related to locations of projects, building types and sizes, and ownership, both public and private. The overarching trend is significant growth and market adoption.