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MBMA Partners With ORNL for Whole Building Energy Efficiency Study


Cleveland, Ohio,  The Metal Building Manufacturers
Association (MBMA) has started the first phase of a long-term plan for
major research in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The industry and DOE hope
this joint work will ultimately provide designers with the knowledge
to design higher quality and more energy efficient structures. Oak
Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) was awarded the MAXLAB project under
the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and this research is
an element of that project.

ORNL’s light commercial building flexible research platforms will
expose the test buildings to natural weather conditions for R&D
purposes. The results are intended to advance energy efficiency
solutions for new and retrofit applications. These test buildings will
provide the opportunity to prove solutions in a low risk environment
so they can be more readily accepted in the marketplace in actual
commercial buildings.

The research will consist of two full-scale light commercial
buildings. The first building to be completed will be a
2,400-square-foot, one-story metal building system with a gable roof.
The second building will be a 3,200 square-foot, multi-story light
framed building with a flat roof. MBMA will conduct research on the
low-rise metal building.

Both buildings will have hundreds of very sophisticated sensors that
will send data back to a central data center within the main MAXLAB
research building to closely monitor heat flow through the various
surfaces. The buildings will be constructed on insulated concrete
foundations that include in-slab heating/cooling loops, which enable
researchers to control the temperature of the fluid circulating in the
loops. The slab system, which was specially designed for the
experiments, will eliminate heat transfer between the ground and the
test buildings. This separation of the buildings from the effects of
the ground is necessary to accurately model the energy performance of
the building shells and makes the research more useful for various
geographic locations.

The structural frame for the metal building has been constructed on
the site, and the roof and walls are currently under construction.
Once construction is completed, ORNL researchers will begin setting up
sensors and other scientific equipment to measure the energy
performance of the building and to establish a performance baseline.
The benchmark building will be insulated to a low level to establish a
starting point. Future experiments will include higher insulation
levels for the roof and walls and introduce other energy saving
strategies that will be measured against the original benchmark

Since metal buildings are used in approximately 40% of all low-rise
non-residential construction, this is an important construction type
to study in order to analyze, document, and show improvements in
energy performance.

Energy research on buildings has previously focused on the component
level, such as hot box testing, cool roof tests, air barrier tests,
etc. However, whole building testing in a complete building system
will allow for combined and individual impacts to be evaluated
together due to the complicated interactions among the building
components under controlled conditions.

Dan Walker, P.E., is MBMA’s Senior Staff Engineer and he is overseeing
the research efforts with the MBMA Energy Committee. Dan indicates:
“The ultimate intent of the research is to improve the energy
efficiency of metal buildings by identifying and validating
cost-effective new and retrofit construction techniques and learning
how those systems interact in real buildings. We are very excited
about this opportunity, and we expect the end result will provide
real-world solutions that can cost-effectively reduce building energy

About MBMA
MBMA has served metal building systems manufacturers and suppliers for
56 years. Its membership represents more than $1.9 billion in annual
steel shipments and accounts for approximately 49% of the total
non-residential low-rise construction market in the United States.
MBMA provides engineering leadership through the many research
programs that it sponsors annually, often in coordination with major
universities and engineering schools throughout North America. This
research is used to improve the performance, efficiency, and quality
of metal building systems and to elevate the technology used to
produce them.

About ORNL
ORNL is a multi-program science and technology laboratory managed for
the U.S. Department of Energy by UT-Battelle, LLC. ORNL's mission is
to deliver scientific discoveries and technical breakthroughs that
will accelerate the development and deployment of solutions in clean
energy and global security, and in doing so create economic
opportunity for the nation. It regularly collaborates with industry
partners to apply its distinctive capabilities.

More From 12/12/2012 on FacilitiesNet