Flexibility For The Future

Beyond aesthetics and structural advantages, there are many factors to consider when choosing the right building envelope for a project.

building envelope systems construction
(Photo: Butler Manufacturing)

By Craig Mohr

For Wisconsin-based microbrewery Barley John’s, choosing a building envelope that offered flexibility, durability, energy efficiency, and adaptability was integral to the company’s long-term success. Because of the owner’s design vision for the building and stringent budget, the company went with a systems construction approach.

Flexibility And Durability

In its first year, the new brewing facility set to brew 7,000 barrels of beer, but that was only the start. Over the years, Barley John’s growth plan was for the company to expand its bottling capabilities and thus, there would be a need for more brewing equipment and space. To save time, money, and headaches down the line, the owners wanted a building envelope that could accommodate for this future growth.

building envelope systems construction
(Photo: Butler Manufacturing)

Clearspan framing offered column-free space for the large fermentation tanks and the ability for the walls to “unzip” for easy expansion when the time came. Having the flexibility to plan for the future without having to put money up-front was a huge selling point for the microbrewers. This capability provided peace of mind knowing they could invest in a building that could grow with them.

Facility manager takeaway: The benefits of an expandable wall system should be enough to perk management’s attention. Leadership will be interested to know a systems approach can offer numerous advantages to push a building’s flexibility that will help put money back in their pocket.

Optimized Energy Efficiency

With the temperamental Wisconsin climate, coupled with the specific fermentation and storage temperatures required for the brewery, Barley John’s needed a building envelope with optimal weather tightness and energy efficiency. To meet these standards, a thermal wall system was ideal for the job. Thermal wall systems maximize insulation performance to deliver top energy efficiency with high R-values.

building envelope systems construction
(Photo: Butler Manufacturing)

There are two types of blanket insulation options commonly used in the systems construction approach. First is the fiberglass blanket insulation with thermal spacer blocks to eliminate thermal short-circuits, and second is the factory-insulated wall panel system. Barley John’s went with the factory-insulated approach, known for its industry-tested design that meets minimal air leakage requirements needed for specified energy codes. Most thermal wall panels can range from 2 to 4 inches in thickness and can deliver R-values ranging from R-16 to R-32.

However, the wall system can’t take all the credit. The roof system handles a lot of the heavy lifting to achieve optimal energy efficiency. The microbrewery chose the industry’s top-performing standing-seam roof system to further enhance the energy efficiency of its facility. The roof is a primary contributor to heat loss in a steel structure, so Barley John’s needed a roof as efficient as its wall system.

The owners of Barley John’s recognized that opting for the industry-leading standing seam roof system was a business decision that would allow them to take more control over their operating expenses long-term.

“We love the final building. It fits all the requirements we had and is efficient in its space and use of energy,” said John Moore, co-founder of Barley John’s.

Facility manager takeaway: Contrary to conventional thinking, systems construction can prove an ideal building approach when high thermal performance is required. From a code perspective, a building must meet the same standard no matter if it’s made of steel or concrete, and systems construction can offer numerous advantages. Additionally, C-suite might be interested to learn that design-build systems construction can be up to 30 percent faster than conventional construction.

Systems Integration

building envelope systems construction
(Photo: Butler Manufacturing)

While the brewery was the main focus of the facility, the owners also had a vision for a taproom where patrons could enjoy a beer or two and visit with one another. To accommodate for the high roof height needed to fit the fermentation tanks, and to create a quaint customer taproom experience, a multi-level approach was taken. This approach offered a reduction in the amount of energy required to heat and cool the building, opposed to if the entire building was level.

Facility manager takeaway: C-suite might be surprised to know that systems construction can come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one size or one design fits all. It’s even possible to frame out a separate building (e.g., a wooden structure) that can sit inside a steel building for a unique visual appeal without creating any noticeable difference between the two spaces.

Beyond aesthetics and structural advantages, there are many factors to consider when choosing the right building envelope for a project. Just like microbrew connoisseurs know to look beyond a bottle design or label when picking a new beer; the same approach holds true with building envelopes: look for one that provides more than just the basics.

Craig Mohr is Global Corporate Account Manager at Butler Manufacturing, a building-solutions company providing the design, manufacture, and marketing of metal building systems for commercial construction.