Stainless steel is an extraordinary building material. In 1920s construction, stainless steel use in building envelope applications was limited to iconic projects such as the Chrysler and Empire State buildings with budgets that were deemed extravagant for their day. As years progressed, the impressive durability of stainless steel earned its way on to more buildings. Yet, only recently have the incredible environmental benefits of this material been understood, and even now stainless steel remains under appreciated.
It is our mission to bring awareness of the outstanding environmental and economic benefits of stainless-clad buildings to architects, engineers, and building owners everywhere.
Rigidized® Metals Corporation has a philosophy of helping building professionals select materials that will last the useful life of the building with little or no maintenance.This usually results in the least long term cost to the building owner. In addition, significantly less harm can be made to the environment by using long life materials as opposed to more commonly used materials that require maintenance and replacement. Specifically, our portfolio of high performance architectural metals serves this philosophy well. Beyond offering sustainability (when properly specified and installed) these metals are, by their nature, environmentally “green” materials. While the cleaning of the abraded stainless steel in these photos was accomplished with soap and water, it is possible that it would not have to be cleaned at all if one of our self-cleaning hydrophobic finishes was used.
As Contrarian has continued to develop new stainless steel and other high performance metal products for the architectural market, further study of the properties of stainless steel have revealed astonishing benefits to the environment that also translate into improved operating costs for building owners. In this section of the website, the following topics are covered in separate documents which reveal the substantial economic benefits of stainless steel as a building material:
Stainless steel buildings are quite durable.The dome of the Chrysler building in New York is a great example. Having only been cleaned twice since its construction in 1929, there is no doubt that it will continue to perform its duties until such time as the building is taken down. Before the reader dismisses stainless steel as a building material because they do not intend to be around as long as the Chrysler building, there is much more to consider.
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While a building owner’s risk management costs are primarily a function of insurance premiums, smaller damage claims are often absorbed by the owner because the deductible is not met or the owner does not wish to trigger a premium increase. Stainless steel building panels can help the owner avoid risk in the first place and potentially lower costs to remediate damaged panels.
Stainless steel has superior fire resistance to more commonly used construction materials, including metals like aluminum, copper, and zinc. Since stainless is stronger and does not depend on coatings to protect the surface, it has a measure of hail resistance. Paint from tagging or graffiti is easily removed, particularly from rolled-in stainless steel finishes.
The extraordinary durability of stainless steel means very little maintenance is required to preserve the original appearance, provided a suitable grade is used for the building’s environment. Finish selection also plays a major role in maintenance costs. Building owners are best served when designers take this into consideration.
A stainless steel building has an unmistakably high-end appearance that lasts indefinitely with very little maintenance. Since stainless steel buildings are cheap to operate and look great over the long haul, it stands to reason the owner will command a higher price when the building sold. However, there is more to the story than just the selling price. A building that retains its high end appearance over time attracts tenants, customers and employees, which maintain the owner’s revenue stream.
While stainless steel costs a bit more up front, it returns on that investment in many forms for as long as the building stands. This paper serves to aid in the process of determining variables to consider when evaluating different materials on a life-cycle basis.