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Research Initiatives Add Value & Impact Costs & Codes

By Mark Detwiler, PE, MBMA 2019 Technical Committee Chairman

MBMA’s Technical Committee advances metal building systems design to ensure safe, resilient and code-compliant structures. Many of the recent projects we’ve completed enhance the resiliency of metal building systems when they are subjected to seismic and wind events. Here are a few examples.

Seismic Behavior of Metal Buildings

To withstand maximum-considered earthquake ground motions, structural systems must be capable of supporting loads beyond the initial limit state without collapsing. An incredible level of effort from researchers and MBMA’s Technical Committee members led to successfully justifying current seismic design practices using very conservative definitions of collapse. The project resulted in a peer-reviewed systematic plan that utilizes a high-fidelity finite element model augmented with a series of single degree of freedom models that reduce computation complexity.

Resilient Connections Between Hard Walls and Steel Frames in Metal Buildings

This National Science Foundation project complemented MBMA’s seismic research. Dr. Justin Marshall at Auburn University evaluated the demand on hard wall and steel frame connections that have been identified as an issue in some earthquake investigations in other countries. Testing was completed on a prototype attachment that was fine-tuned using finite element analysis. Incorporating these connections in metal buildings could result in less damage during a seismic event.

SSR Diaphragm Research

The objective of this project was to develop a method to evaluate standing seam roof (SSR) in-plane strength and stiffness values. The SSR on a metal building is commonly not recognized for its inherent bracing capabilities. Our work expanded member bracing options for rafters when using SSRs by more accurately capturing true system behavior and reducing redundant framing costs.