Metal Trends for 2024: Going for Green, Integrating Tech and Shifting Aesthetics

Posted by , GSP Marketing on February 5, 2024
GSP Marketing

METALCON, the annual tradeshow and conference devoted to the application of metal in the building envelope, won’t be held until the fall but the organizers opened the year with a glimpse at the future in metal trends including sustainability, aesthetics, and technological advancements.

“As 2023 unfolded, several predictions materialized affirming the important role of metal in the construction landscape. Shifts in construction spending favoring metal buildings and suppliers, an increased emphasis on the urgency of construction timelines, and the influential role of mandates and market dynamics in driving decarbonization initiatives all materialized as anticipated,” said a blog posted by the tradeshow at the start of 2024. “As we move into the New Year, some of the trends that will continue to move the metal construction industry forward include a focus on sustainability with more green construction, metal building color trends, and a continued integration of technology.”

2024 Metal Building Theme: Sustainability Success Story

If there is one theme for 2024, it would have to be sustainability and the metal building industry.

“Sustainability is the theme for this year’s annual report,” wrote the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) general manager Tony Bouquot. “Metal building systems have a great story to tell regarding product sustainability. Whether I’m speaking to architects at the AIA Expo, contractors at METALCON, or members at MBMA events, I’m proud to preach the gospel of sustainable steel.”

Construction Business Owner magazine says that the engineering and construction (E&C) industry is expected to see a significant surge in sustainable practices in 2024.

“In fact, it’s a top priority for most E&C firms surveyed for the latest U.S. Green Building Council’s 2023 report,” said the magazine. “Growing adoption of efficient building materials and sustainable construction practices helping to better position the industry to align with the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, which requires all new buildings and 20 percent of existing structures to be zero-carbon-ready by 2030.”

Deloitte’s 2024 Engineering and Construction Industry Outlook says that sustainability will be a business imperative in construction in 2024 with upfront costs balanced through long-term efficiency strategies.

“Strategies such as reducing the embodied carbon of key construction materials, passive design principles, and the use of energy-efficient equipment can accelerate decarbonization by minimizing the overall carbon dioxide emissions associated with both the construction and operation of a building,” said the Deloitte report.

Other highlights from the Deloitte report:

  • The US government is also prioritizing sustainable construction through the Federal Buy Clean Initiative.

  • The initiative has led to the specification of more than $2 billion for the procurement of lower-carbon construction materials like asphalt, concrete, and steel for federal procurement and their use in federally funded projects.

  • It also resulted in the allocation of $100 million to support state, local government, and public utility purchases of building products derived from converted carbon emissions.

  • The upfront costs associated with sustainable construction can be offset by reduced long-term life cycle costs. Such reductions in costs may be derived from the usage of high-performance facades and energy-efficient systems.

  • Passive design techniques can include orienting buildings to avoid or capture solar heat, designing green roofs to reduce heat absorption and provide insulation, incorporating energy-efficient fixtures and daylight-responsive lighting controls to reduce energy consumption, and designing building envelopes for effective insulation and moisture control to stabilize indoor temperatures.

The Cool Metal Roofing Coalition says that builders and architects are changing the way they select building materials and design for energy performance – and that the roof can have the greatest impact on the energy use of a building.

Metal roofs are indeed “cool roofs” as they reflect heat up and away from buildings.

“Buildings consume one-third of all energy and two-thirds of all electricity generated. Cool roofs can help reduce energy consumption by lowering cooling loads. Reflective roofs directly save up to 40 percent in heating and cooling energy costs, as reported by Oak Ridge National Laboratory,” says the coalition.

Metal is not only durable and recyclable, but metal roofing is tested for fire, wind, and hail resistance.

Cue the Color: Metal Trends 2024

METACON says that metal building aesthetics in 2024 will continue to evolve and embrace a bolder color palette. Look for these three color trends:

  • Bold and Vibrant: Look for a shift away from neutral tones and a move to eye-catching hues like deep blues, lush greens, and vibrant reds.

  • Natural Finishes: METALCON says that earthy tones and natural finishes are gaining traction in metal construction with colors inspired by nature, such as warm browns, muted greens, and rustic reds.

  • Sustainable Coatings: Low-VOC (volatile organic compound) coatings not only contribute to healthier indoor environments but check the sustainability box, which is the top metal trend of 2024.

The Design and Build with Metal website says that Sherwin-Williams color experts developed color trends for the coil and extrusion metal coatings market with samples of innovative colors, textures, and effects for metal building products.

“The dynamics of our lives change, and so do the colors we surround ourselves with design. In Perspectives, our team of color experts explores how the past, present, and future will influence color in architectural design in the years ahead,” said Kiki Redhead, Sherwin-Williams Global CMF (Color, Material and Finish) & Trend Manager.

Integrating Building Information Modeling (BIM) Tech

Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and other emerging technologies are changing all walks of life, and metal building design and construction are taking advantage of Building Information Modeling (BIM).

“BIM is revolutionizing the way construction projects are planned, executed, and maintained. As design technology moves toward 4D, 5D, and even 6D capabilities, companies can vastly improve estimating and planning processes with improved access to data,” says METALCON.

BIM, according to the Encyclopedia of Sustainable Technologies, is a collaborative way for multidisciplinary information storing, sharing, exchanging, and managing throughout the entire building project lifecycle including the planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and demolition phases.

“With the ability to see geothermic, thermal, and acoustic properties with advanced BIM technology, builders can be more proactive in planning. Cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain are being leveraged to develop innovative products that outperform traditional alternatives in effectiveness and efficiency,” explains METALCON. “BIM technology is poised to positively impact across all building sectors including architecture, civil engineering, mechanical, electrical & plumbing (MEP), and structural engineering.”

A report by Allied Market Research released on Feb. 9, 2024, says that the BIM market is poised to explode, going from a value of $7.9 billion in 2022 to $34.2 billion by 2032 – a hyper-charged growth rate of 16 percent per year over the next decade.

From sustainability initiatives to new color choices to emerging technology, metal design and building is poised for an exciting 2024 and beyond.

Topics: Construction, Sustainability