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 is to bring awareness of the outstanding environmental and economic benefits of stainless-clad buildings to architects, engineers, and building owners everywhere.
Contrarian Micro Textures was founded with 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.
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 amazing benefits of stainless steel as a building material:
Since the chromium oxide layer that naturally develops on the surface of stainless steel is thin and invisible it is a near-perfect solar and thermal reflector. This translates to energy savings in hot as well as cold climates, and a reduction in the heat island effect, therefore mitigating climate change. This paper deals with the basics of thermal and solar reflectance and provides the reader with information about test procedures and results for stainless steel compared to other materials.
Learn more here.
The remarkable thermal properties of stainless steel result in R value for the metal itself, thereby lessening the demands of panel insulation systems to meet design criteria. More importantly, it gives designers an opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, given a set panel and an insulation system. This document provides information regarding the contribution stainless steel makes toward insulating buildings.
Since the chromium oxide layer that naturally develops on the surface of stainless steel is thin and invisible is a near-perfect solar and thermal reflector. This translates to an energy savings in both hot as well as cold climates, and a reduction in the heat island effect, therefore mitigating climate change.
Beyond the sustainability of the finish, characteristics of a given stainless steel surface weigh heavily in the solar reflectance equation. Particular attention is paid to Contrarian Micro Textures’ InvariMatte® stainless steel finish which was designed for roofing and other building envelope applications. While the original objective in developing this product was to create a uniform low glare finish that would not produce unwanted environmental glare when used in large surface areas such as a roof, the energy investigation we have undertaken has shown distinct advantages of this finish as it relates to energy performance.
Approximately 60% of the world’s stainless steel production contains recycled material. In the United States the average is closer to 75% of all stainless steels. Some products will have a lower recycled content while others will be higher, based on melting location, grade and product form. Please contact a Contrarian Metal Resources Product Consultant for details of the recycled content specific to your project.
There are a number of areas where the use of our materials can contribute to the accumulation of LEED® (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) and Green Globes Design™ points. While it is best to contact us for assistance in predetermining exactly where these opportunities are for each given product, application and project location, this document provides an overview of the potential design credits that stainless steel products offer.
Stainless steel buildings have been around for nearly 100 years without showing signs of degradation. Perhaps the most widely known example of this is the dome atop the Chrysler building. Built in 1929, it has only been cleaned twice and remains in excellent condition without any expectation that it will need to be replaced. From an environmental standpoint an architect or building owner can count on this material to last the useful life of the building. Combining this fact with energy savings, heat island mitigation, impressive recycling statistics and other environmental benefits, it is truly a sustainable product that is good for the planet.
As more common building materials break down under exposure to the elements, stainless steel does not, assuming the proper grade is used. A considerable amount of lead continues to find its way onto buildings, primarily in the form of lead-coated copper. Lead, paint coatings, and even copper and zinc for that matter, oxidize in building envelope applications. Runoff from these oxides can be introduced to the ground and nearby wetlands and water tables. Stainless steel poses no risk in this area, making it a sensible choice particularly in environmentally sensitive locations.
Stainless steel is an extraordinary building material. It is attractive, energy efficient, durable, and is arguably the most sustainable choice among metals with which we build buildings. Traditionally it has been used in construction for interior elements. Today, there has been a substantial increase in its use as exterior cladding material. Part of this recent increase is usage can be attributed to the development of InvariMatte® stainless steel which allows this material to be used in a large surface areas in glare-sensitive environments.