Energy-Saving Metal Buildings

September 1, 2011

Building owners, facility managers, and leaseholders are facing tougher challenges every day. Energy conservation, reduction of carbon emissions, and returns on investment are no longer the problems of the future. They are here now, and everyone is asking, “How can I make my metal building work for me and/or my tenants?”

The first question should be: “What metal building component has the highest and fastest return on investment?” One answer is fiberglass metal building insulation (MBI). While fiberglass MBI has never been the favorite building component on the material list, it is quickly being brought back into the spotlight as a less costly and more efficient way to reduce energy cost, qualify for tax deductions, reduce carbon emissions, improve attractiveness to tenants, and increase comfort, noise absorption, and the building’s life span, value, etc. The benefits are endless, and the energy-saving phenomenon is spreading throughout the nation, with the greatest benefit of all being the return on investment. Installing fiberglass MBI provides direct monetary benefits such as those below.

Energy Cost Reductions

Creating an energy-efficient work space is proving to be a superior benefit to leaseholders or renters. As more and more vacant buildings become available, building owners are looking for new ways to attract tenants.

The logic is simple: not running the air conditioner/heater all day will cut back on energy costs. Installing fiberglass MBI in metal buildings, whether in a new building or when retrofitting an existing building, dramatically reduces the amount of energy needed to either heat or cool a metal building. Certified fiberglass MBI provides an extremely cost-efficient method of reducing the thermal transfer of heat through the walls and roof of a metal building, while simultaneously protecting against condensation build-up on the panels.

Tax Deductions

The monetary benefits of fiberglass MBI don’t end with the tenants—tax credits are readily available for building owners.

While new buildings benefit the most because they are easily insulated with a double layer system, retrofitting an existing building is becoming widely popular as an energy-conserving investment. Buildings with existing insulation or buildings without insulation are taking advantage of not only reduced energy bills but also the added tax benefits associated with adding certified fiberglass MBI.

Commercial building owners or leaseholders can qualify for a tax deduction of as much as $1.80 per square foot if 50 percent in energy savings is achieved. Fifty percent may seem tough, but there is also a $.60 per square foot tax credit if 16 2/3 percent in energy savings can be achieved. This tax credit has been extended through December 31, 2013.

To claim a tax deduction, the building owner must obtain a certification proving the building’s energy savings will be reached. There are programs that can assist in providing compliance for building envelopes. The National Institute of Building Sciences has a website called the Mechanical Insulation Design Guide, which provides a wealth of knowledge and several types of simple calculators.

Certified Fiberglass Insulation

Is there a difference in metal building fiberglass insulation? Yes! Not all fiberglass insulation is made the same, but third-party organizations such as the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) and the National Insulation Association (NIA) ensure the materials manufactured are certified through the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). These are the only fiberglass insulations recommended for metal buildings.

When qualifying for a tax credit, the last thing you want is to discover the non-certified insulation purchased did not recover to the stated R-value when delivered to the jobsite prior to installation. The smart choice is to use fiberglass insulation products certified by NAIMA and/or NIA through NAHB.


Whether in the roof or walls or on ducts and pipes, insulation offers one of the best returns on investment of any energy-efficiency technology. Don’t overlook it as you think about how your building can work better for you!

A version of this article originally appeared in the November/December 2009 issue of Metal Building Developer.