Innovation All Around: The Agricultural and Clean Energy Technology Center Case Study
Leaders at the State University of New York (SUNY) – the nation’s largest comprehensive system of higher learning –committed to invest $16 million into a new Agricultural and Clean Energy Technology (ACET) Center at their Morrisville Campus. This ambitious new project would house an impressive variety of labs and facilities to train students in both sustainable energy fields and new agriculture methods. During the onset of construction, the design team at SWBR faced a critical setback: their basis-of-design Insulated Metal Panel (IMP) exterior cladding product had been abruptly discontinued.
This situation put SWBR in a tricky position; they needed to find an equivalent – or better – product to solve the problem. That’s when the manufacturer’s rep firm CAS Reps were asked to help out. “We’ve done a ton of work with SWBR,” said sales representative Kevin Scott. “The basis-of-design was actually a competitor’s product, but it was discontinued just prior to bid time; we love when that happens” joked Kevin. “SWBR was looking for an alternative material to follow the design intent; which we had.”
Finding a Superior Replacement
Luckily, Metl-Span had just what the client was looking for in its 7.2 Insul-Rib™ Wall Panel. “What insulated metal panels (IMPs) offer over traditional construction, among other aspects, is speed of install and unparalleled energy efficiency,” explained Scott. “Ideal construction materials provide a level of air and water tightness along with installation performance. It’s pretty expensive to get that in traditional construction. One has to go around the building multiple times and generally the assembly has to be provided by multiple contractors.”
IMPs combine many barriers all-in-one; water, air, and vapor- but they are also the insulation, the exterior sheathing and cladding and in many cases the interior cladding. There’s no longer a need to staff up projects with multiple trades and multiple potentially unreliable installations. “Designers, GC’s, and building owners can eliminate all of the individual components of the wall assembly with one product and one installer when they use an insulated metal panel,” said Scott. “Performance, speed, efficiency. You get all of that with an insulated metal panel.” CAS Reps worked with Henderson Johnson Company Inc. on the installation of the panels. “We’ve been working with them for as long as we’ve been around,” said Scott.
Roofs are the New Walls
The project wasn’t a simple box. The architects at SWBR had another idea they wanted to experiment with: SWBR had 7.2 Insul-Rib™ Wall Panel for the walls and CFR Roof Panels for the roof – they also wanted CFR Roof Panels installed on the walls; this was uncharted territory.
Standing seam roofs like CFR Roof Panels are flat except for their seams, which stand up perpendicular to the plane of the roof, and this is where the watertight seal between the panels is formed. “They have all these lines- these ribs- lining up together to give the building a unique look,” said Scott. As Henderson Johnson’s Mike Howlett explained, “They wanted the look of the rib on the walls too.”
There are certain intricacies of installing standing seam roofs, such as how to handle the seams at intersections with roof features, skylights, dormers, hips and valleys that by now, are old hat. “The roof details had already been figured out years and years ago” said Scott.
The Devil in the Details
What about running roof panels on walls? “This presented its own little set of challenges,” said Scott. “What do you do at the gutters? What do you do around windows?” The standing seam provides the seal and maintaining its integrity is crucial. “We needed to all come together and figure out how to make this work and make it buildable,” Scott said.
Despite the challenges, the team figured it out and the 30,000-square-foot applied learning technology building is now open – with a very unique, modern appearance. “This project is a testament that standard panels can be used to create unique designs” Scott pointed out, “unconventional ideas can be conveyed with conventional products when their exists a high level of support on the Metl-Span side to get answers quickly.”
Solutions for Today & Tomorrow
The team’s eagerness and inventive approach to creating solutions matches the purpose of the facility itself, students will explore new ways to solve today’s energy and agricultural challenges. The ACET Center houses wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and bio-fuels labs, a three-bay diesel technology garage as well as lab space capable of servicing heavy construction and agricultural equipment. Its tower climbing lab features three (3) 35-ft. tall indoor towers, enabling programs in certification for climbing and rescue.
It’s Always Sunny at SUNY
The way the building is situated is its own lesson in intelligent energy usage. Built into a hillside, its expansive glass is oriented towards the northeast and northwest, allowing for maximal daylight while reducing unwanted summer solar gain. Inside, the ACET Center is also home to a computer classroom, conventional lecture classroom, faculty offices, a conference room and lounge.
Metl-Span is a NUCOR® company. (NYSE: NUE ); delivering high-quality, durable and energy-efficient insulated metal panels designed for unparalleled performance to stand the test of time.
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