Have you ever wondered how metal buildings in Galena Park are put together or manufactured? The process is both complicated and precise. The manufacture of a metal building is an awesome combination of engineering, draftsmanship, ingenuity, teamwork, know-how and metal building manufacturing expertise. Each building receives the utmost care and attention throughout the manufacturing process, manufactured by experienced craftsmen and watched over by a dedicated staff of professionals from start to finish. Precision engineering, machinery and components plus exceptional quality control yield a precision high quality manufactured product.
Once a customer has purchased a pre-engineered metal building or metal building system, their sales person, who performs multiple functions of building consultant, building designer, technician and estimator, forwards the purchaser’s order to the steel building factory. In the top metal building factories, the factory itself fabricates all required building components in house. That way, all components are compatible and go together easily on the job site with no surprises and no waiting for components to arrive from different suppliers.
At the steel building factory, the order entry department oversees the order from start to finish, from the time the order is received until the steel building is shipped. Steel building factory staff verifies all design codes, snow and wind loads and seismic information to make sure that everything complies with the purchaser’s contract and enters the order into scheduling software to ensure that the buildings manufacture is efficiently managed.
How does one elect the best metal building to use in Galena Park based on all the factors to consider?
I’m dying. This isn’t news I received from a doctor, it’s just the truth. I hate to break it to you, but you’re dying too. In fact, we can be fairly certain that almost anyone reading this will have taken their last breath by the end of this century. Believe it or not, the same holds true for our buildings.
I’m not stating this out of some obsession with death. I don’t have a fatalist sense that life will pass me by without a chance to leave a strong legacy for the generations that follow. Rather, I’m concerned that the places we are building won’t do the same.
A large percentage of our built environment has a surprisingly high “mortality” rate. In fact, the lifespan of a building — made of concrete, steel, wood — is shorter than that of a flesh-and-blood human. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average office building lifespan in 2008 was 73 years. In contrast, human life expectancy in the U.S. was 78 years. Given their similar life expectancy, one would assume we spend a comparable amount of money on a person’s shelter as we do on other essential aspects of their life, right?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated in 2008 the average cost of living on food, shelter, transportation, and healthcare to be around $35,000 per year — or more than $2.7 million during a 78-year lifetime. We spend that on ourselves simply to survive. And what about the office environment where, for 45 of those 78 years, we will devote more than 50% of our waking hours? We currently spend around $200 per square foot for a conventional office building, with each worker needing roughly 200 square feet to do their job (direct work, collaboration, breaks, storage, etc.). That’s a total cost of $40,000 per person for every new building built. Additionally, according to the Building Owners and Managers Association, the average annual operating costs are about $8/sf (or $1,600/sf per person each year), which over a 45-year career yields a total operating cost per person of $72,000. In total, we’re allocating about $112,000 per person on buildings during an individual’s career.
The quick math? We spend 24x less on the facilities shaping our daily experience and health than we do on the bodies that inhabit them. Yet I’ll wager most people expect buildings to outlive them many times over.
This seems like a misalignment worth exploring, especially as we aspire to improve the health of both our cities and their citizens. Are we expecting too much from our buildings, or are we not spending enough money on them? Either way, here are two approaches that may help us start the uncomfortable conversation on the merits of “architectural euthanasia.”
Long Live the Short-Lived
As humans we’re predestined, eventually, to return to earth, ashes, and dust. Based on their similar lifespan, should buildings have the same fate? When buildings cease to change, when they cease to give back, when they cease to learn, they die. Yet we have a tendency to put them on life support, often for long periods of time. Instead of investing in “permanent” materials that, ironically, will be deconstructed in less than a century, let’s instead focus on lightweight, rapidly constructible and dismantle-able solutions as part of a flexible, component-driven system.
For instance, lightweight tensile structures are deployed throughout the globe to house sports, social venues and even laboratories, and can more broadly be considered for day-lit envelopes or inflatable facilities that disappear when not in use. Or imagine the beauty — both literal and figural — of exterior walls where reusable felt panels become both insulation and rain screen. Explorations in paper materials such as cardboard have become more prevalent, while 3-D printing affords us the opportunity to experiment with soluble materials that simply wash away after serving their purpose.
Materials for short-term buildings don’t necessarily have to be less durable, but they likely need to perform more than one function. A single material serving as structure, enclosure and window is faster and simpler to assemble — and therefore more likely to encourage a project to go up or come down. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from millennia of nomadic lifestyles.
We started designing for human health centuries ago, and the outcome on the built environment has been noticeable. The term euthenics — the study of the improvement of human functioning and well-being by the improvement of living conditions — was coined in the 1890s when society began to stress the importance of natural light, fresh air and open space in the buildings that shape everyone’s daily life. Cast-iron façades and long-span timber elements were effective approaches to freeing up both the exterior and the floor plan. Not by coincidence, the buildings that succeeded in doing this best a hundred years ago are some of today’s most sought-after real estate investments.
Some of our biggest challenges with structures derive from our failure to foresee the continual changes that occur in how we live and work. Architecture that uses an exoskeleton — or structural elements on the exterior — is a strong first step towards accommodating such change, eliminating internal columns and walls that often constrain the uses around them. Moment connections at columns can do the same while enabling future flexibility for the placement of elevator cores and floor openings. Taller floor-to-floor heights invite daylight deeper into a space — making it more comfortable and usable — while providing a greater range of opportunities for evolving programmatic needs, from offices, to residences, to loft-like workspaces or even labs or industrial use.
Interestingly, it’s not the materials in long-term buildings that need to be more durable, but rather the forward-thinking ideas about how space will be used. Perhaps this conceptual trajectory might force us to rethink our criteria for sustainable features, so that conversion and adaptive reuse would trump bicycle storage and recycled materials.
We can spend less on shelter and, like buying furniture at Ikea, know we will get something that is decently crafted but will last only a few years. Or we can spend more on design, materials, mechanical systems, exterior walls, floor-to-floor heights, and so on and guarantee that our buildings will outlive us and the generations to follow.
Think of it like the sell-by on a grocery item. Perishable foods must be used up quickly, while shelf-stable foods are labeled for the longer term, packaged as nutritional insurance for the future. Perhaps it’s time we establish the same expectations for our buildings, designing with the knowledge that they, too, have an expiration date.
Should Wood and Metal Buildings Have Expiration Dates?
Contrary to popular thinking, the building construction industry does not only revolve around brick, mortar, steel and hard labor. Compared to the yesteryears of construction, the role of technology cannot be denied — it is essential in developing and enhancing the building sector to ensure processes are sped up, communication improved and efficiency is maximized.
To better illustrate the positive impact of technology on construction, let’s look at this scenario. In the 1940’s, 30 weeks is the shortest time that a new homeowner is able to move into his new detached, two-storey house. The speed in which the same house can be built is increased significantly over the years, and by the time the 1980’s arrive, houses can be built in as little as eight weeks. Today, with advancements such as prefab technologies, families are able to live in their dream homes upon completion of construction in a little over a month.
No significant efficiencies leveraged?
The integration of information technology paved the way for every industry to thrive and maximize productivity, but the construction sector has yet to see notable product gains. Stanford University researchers discovered that the impact of technology on construction of buildings is not as strong or consistent compared to impacts on say, manufacturing, for example. In manufacturing, the implementation of a particular technology within a process usually carries through and all products after that are produced using that same technology, or at least until improvements are made.
This is not quite true when it comes to ensuring the same brand of efficiency and consistency in the field of construction. Where the process flow in manufacturing is consistent, the construction sector adopts a “one-off” nature of construction. In other words, a construction process using a particular type of technology may or may not carry over to the next project. Each project is considered a prototype, and is to start from scratch. Back to square one, as some may observe.
This is probably due to project teams not remaining consistent throughout the project.
Understandably, project teams rarely remain the same when each project begins, but the issue may lie within project leaders as those with authority do not generally exercise efforts to continue systematic innovations throughout their practices. In a nutshell, people do not feel the need to share valuable knowledge and procedures.
Some ways to ensure significant efficiencies are leveraged include:
· Ensure standardization in documentation
· Aim to increase consistent technology adoption
· Leaders need to step in and take charge with wise and informed decision-making
· Integrate project structures across all projects
· Encourage open information sharing
· Increase frequency of project team meeting and discussion
Positive impacts of technology and innovations on building construction
When implemented wisely, these technologies can and will meaningfully improve the construction industry. They include:
Pre-fabrication is the practice of assembling building components (be it walls or floors) off-site and then transporting the semi-finished components to be assembled where the building foundation is located. Think of it as “snap-on” technology if you will, but compared to traditional methods, this pre-assembly technique brings on to the construction sector:
- Time savings of 15-20%
- Increased cost efficiency
- Less energy and material wastage
- Ensure safety of construction
- Decreased pollution (less noise and dust) when components are assembled in a controlled environment
- Cameras placed on-site lets building owners view the ongoing process without actually travelling to the site.
- VOIP technology provides means for cost-effective communication back and forth
- Web-based project management systems allow seamless project collaboration and administrative activities between all parties involved — this increases productivity and accuracy while reducing cycle time.
- Strategic social media networking practices can help construction companies increase awareness, sales leads and generally bring on previously-unleveraged avenues of profits.
3. GPS System
Machines employing the use of GPS can perform tasks accurately without being told what to do, and when or where to do it. More importantly, it alleviates risks especially if there are rookie operators in the cockpit.