When the calendar changes and a new year begins, many of us tend to view that time as a brand-new chapter. Businesses and individuals alike reflect on what’s gone before and what’s still to come. Maybe it’s because it’s an election year or maybe it’s because the last few years have been filled with so much turmoil, but it seems like this time around, the forward- and backward-looking tendencies are even stronger than ever.
Listening to the Republican presidential candidates debate and watching President Obama deliver his State of the Union address, I heard desires to go back to mythical boom days of the past and a simultaneous insistence that we need to bust things up and redesign the way things work in the government and in the country as a whole. The message seems to be that the past was great and the future is promising but the present is a bunch of junk.
Though bunch of junk the present may be, it is where we live. Looking somewhere else is easy to do when the challenges before us are tough, but it’s important to consider the past and future for what they are: education and opportunity. The past is a template that teaches us, but it is not a destination. The future is a blank slate for us to create. We must neither get too stuck in past habits nor too caught up in change for the sake of change.
I recently returned from the Metal Construction Association (MCA) Annual Meeting and, from the presentations and conversations I heard there, it occurred to me that the construction industry is a perfect example of this balance. The design and construction community is always facing new techniques and requirements, but much of the essence of what we do hasn’t changed in decades, if not centuries.
One of the topics raised at the meeting was the upcoming changes to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system and the soon-to-be-finalized International Green Construction Code from the International Code Council. The sustainability movement has brought a new kind of evolution to construction; for the metal industry, this carries both challenges and opportunities. Yes, the ever-changing landscape of standards, certifications, and codes can be difficult to keep up with. On the other hand, a renewed focus on durability and longevity can be very advantageous for metal manufacturers and installers.
While at the MCA meeting, I heard updates on a study being conducted to determine the actual life of metal roof systems. During the discussion of this study at the meeting, several members from different areas of the country volunteered information about metal roof installations that were 25 or 30 years old and still functioning beautifully. With those roofs still in service, it’s clear that the installers and manufacturers of days gone by knew a little something about what they were doing.
Decades of collective industry knowledge and experience combined with continuous innovation and technological improvement add up to a wealth of possibilities for even-more-efficient and longer-lasting buildings in the future. Roofs are a big part of that equation and nowhere is that more evident than at the International Roofing Expo, which takes place this month in Orlando, Fla. That experience and innovation will be on display in the education sessions and on the exhibit floor. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the latest technology, trends, and techniques. To find out more about the expo, click here.
This issue of takes a special look at roofs and the role that they play in the overall strategy of buildings. One way that a metal roof can help contribute to the energy efficiency of buildings and the environmental health of cities and communities is by deflecting the sun’s heat. Cool roofing is growing in use and metal is well-suited to the task. In Tech, the Oakland, Calif.–based Cool Roof Rating Council gives an overview of cool roofs. The article discusses how cool roofs work and shares strategies for optimum design. An example of a successful cool-roof installation can be seen in Applications.
Examples like these can help us to learn from the past in order to better write our future. For some perspective, remember something that Albert Einstein said: “The distinction between the past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”