- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 06 Feb 2019
Insulated metal panel
To help develop this article, click 'Edit this article'.
When a Germany-based farm equipment manufacturer HALDRUP GmbH broke into the North American market they had just one requirement: their new plant should be constructed using insulated metal panels (IMPs).
IMPs are a staple in European construction where they are used for their economic value, easy assembly, and insulation properties that keep energy loss and costs low. “Metal panels make it possible to get the building operational quickly,” says Rüdiger Hofmann, owner and civil engineer at HALDRUP.
The speedy assembly of these insulated metal panels ended up saving the project from falling behind schedule when frozen ground prevented them from digging the building’s foundation. The panels require far less specialised equipment to install due to their self-aligning, tongue-in-groove joints with concealed fasteners. The streamlined construction meant the project could be completed on time, even with the setback. Hofmann also insisted on the IMPs for environmental reasons.
 Interior climate control with minimum energy use
Having a properly insulated building means saving energy. The second largest contributor to greenhouse gases is the energy used inside buildings. A building with insulated metal panels can reduce energy cost by two-thirds. This is because the sealed building envelope optimises thermal resistance by stopping any gaps where heated or cooled air could potentially escape.
Another way IMPs quickly recoup their initial cost is by requiring minimal maintenance and aftercare. They create a fully sealed building envelope and prevent the penetration of moisture from the exterior to the interior via tiny gaps in the insulation. This moisture travels in some other building components and can be responsible for mold and mildew—a time and money, that can be highly disruptive for building owners.
In 2008, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) set a goal. All new residential construction in California would be Zero Net Energy (ZNE) by 2020. Insulated metal panels make it easier to reach those standards, especially in roofing. Because of their high thermal performance, the foam-insulated panels can reach above R-50.
Insulated metal panels reduce the need for specialised equipment. That means less fuel for cranes and fewer materials being used in a particular project. Additionally, they are extremely easy to modify should any changes be desired. Due to thier lightweight, they eliminate the need for a lot of structural support.
 Flexibility and sustainability
Insulated panels have an additional benefit, especially in a location like California. In zones prone to earthquakes and tremors, panels are less rigid and more flexible than heavy, traditional building materials. They can sway between 4 and 6 inches from side to side during seismic activity.
Sustainability means products that last “the life of the building, and perform throughout its life cycle as well.” Steel, a major component in the metal panels, is 100% recyclable and can be reused ad infinitum. There is no endgame for steel, it could be a bicycle wheel next time around.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Exploring local assets of community significance. Book review.
Wood-burning stoves should not be used in thatch-roofed buildings.
Servitisation, smart systems and connectivity.
What happens to the Construction Products Regulation if there is no Brexit deal.
The first step to long-term prosperity.
The status and rights of employees in construction
Continuing to share environmental best practice
The employee assistance programme EAP
HMRC's Construction Industry Scheme
What 'net-zero emissions' means for civil engineers
The meaning of Rw and Dw/DnTw