New School Construction Focused On Building Envelope Performance

By Todd Staley

When the Columbia Public School District in Columbia, MO needed a fourth public high school to handle the growing student population, campus planners decided to build a state-of-the-art educational facility with a high performance exterior façade. This new school, named Muriel Battle High School but commonly referred to simply as Battle High School, was intended to fulfill the need created by the 20% population growth in Columbia between the 2000 and 2010 censuses. The finished school, which is attended by students in grades nine through 12, is now located on the east edge of the city of Columbia.

building envelope
Muriel Battle High School in Columbia, MO

Modern building exteriors, including the one designed and constructed for this high school, must meet strict standards in terms of weather resistance and energy efficiency. To meet these standards, campus planning officials required the building enclosure contractor, IWR Building Systems, to provide an attractive, durable exterior solution that would successfully mitigate rain, snow, and other environmental conditions. The enclosure was also required to provide adequate insulation to reduce utility costs and stress on the HVAC system.

The resulting metal panel system that was installed on the high school’s exterior is composed of 33,900 square feet of an insulated metal panel system as well as 4,500 linear feat of additional roof coping, 3,900 square feet of soffit materials, and 1,500 square feet of non-insulated siding. With 4,300 man-hours logged on the project over a six month period, the exterior contractor made sure to provide the highest quality exterior façade possible through craftsmanship and painstaking attention to detail.

The exterior of “Battle High School” can be described as modern and aesthetically appealing, with striking curves and bold angles provided by the framing and segmented metal panels that compose the exterior façade. The intention of the architects and contractors was to develop an educational facility that will stand the test of time while providing a positive and nurturing environment for its students.

Energy Efficiency

In addition to its attractiveness, the exterior of the high school is an important component in ensuring that the school can operate in an energy efficient manner. There are a number of factors that contribute to energy efficiency in a large facility such as this school—almost all related to the quality and thermal efficiency of the building envelope system. These systems must mitigate numerous environmental conditions simultaneously with a comprehensive building enclosure design that addresses all factors associated with energy efficiency. For example, a building envelope must establish an air barrier that keeps HVAC conditioned air inside of the building and exterior air outside of the building. A low quality air barrier will develop leaks over time that will require the HVAC system to work harder to keep the building at an optimal temperature and humidity level, causing the utility bills paid by the school district to steadily increase.

building envelope
Front entrance of Muriel Battle High School in Columbia, MO

To optimize the energy efficiency of this project, the exterior contractor specified a factory foamed metal insulation panel with a thickness of 2″, providing an approximate R14 insulation value. Additionally, the exterior contractor ensured that quality air seals were securely in place around all exterior openings, including windows, doors, ducts, vents, and intersections of building materials such as roofing, siding, and the foundation. All of these elements were strategically integrated to form a building envelope that is completely sealed against exterior air intrusions as well as highly insulated against heat radiation transfer from interior to exterior or vice versa.

Weather Resistance

A quality closely associated with energy efficiency in larger facilities is weather resistance, or the ability of the building envelope to successfully mitigate ground water, rain, snow, wind, and any other undesirable atmospheric conditions that could negatively affect the interior of the building. If the wall panel system on the building’s exterior does not provide proper drainage pathways for rain water or melting snow, flooding can occur inside the building. Also, thermal transfer can create condensation in the wall cavity, which — along with wall system leaks — can lead to mold issues on the interior of the building.

To achieve optimal weather resistance on Muriel Battle High School’s building envelope, the exterior contractor designed and installed a fully integrated, weathertight enclosure. The Centria Formawall Dimension Series (FWDS) insulated metal panel system utilized on the project is a watertight system with rubber gasket material used at the vertical reveal joints. Each panel came with factory applied caulk in the horizontal joinery, and the end joint detail of the system is designed to set the ends of the panels in a bead of caulking that marries with the horizontal joints, making each panel an individual sealed module. While FWDS insulated metal is not considered a rainscreen, the interior liner sealant details ensure that the interior face of the panel are fully sealed against air and water. This advanced system forms a tight seal that effectively protects the building from the intrusion of exterior weather elements.

As a result of each element of the building’s exterior envelope being thoroughly planned and installed with high-quality craftsmanship and attention to detail, Muriel Battle High School now has an architecturally striking exterior façade that is equipped to efficiently negate any environmental conditions that could cause a headache for the school district’s management staff. It is encouraged for all school districts to consider energy efficient and weather resistant building envelope systems for all new facilities to avoid common problems resulting from a lack of quality in building exteriors.

Staley is the general manager of IWR Building Systems, a St. Louis, MO based specialty contractor that focuses on total building envelope solutions. IWR is a subsidiary of MHS Legacy Group, a diversified national holding corporation also based in St. Louis with roots back to 1895.