With the first major storm of the winter season hitting the Northeast this past week, we thought this would be a great time to discuss some of the ways that we design our buildings for winter weather. As you may know, each of our fabric structures are designed and engineered to meet local wind and snow loads, but did you know that our winter survival skills don’t just stop there? From the truss arched frame with a 50 year warranty to the custom fabric covering that carries a 20 year warranty, there are a number of ways in which our buildings are designed to help ensure your structure will withstand the test of time, even when battling “Old Man Winter”.
Our structures are engineered to meet the wind- and snow-load codes that are set by local county or town building departments. Every area has different snow-load requirements that must be followed, and these varying requirements must be met in order for a new structure to be approved. Any building, no matter what the make or style, must be designed and built to properly withstand the unique weather patterns of the area. For a building itself, there are a number of ways in which the design can affect the snow-load capabilities, these include the building’s shape, thermal properties and sun exposure as well as the surrounding environment. One of our most common tasks is engineering our buildings to withstand specific “drift loads”. A drift load occurs when a smaller structure is placed next to or near by a taller building. When the wind blows, it pushes snow off of the taller roof and onto the lower one, causing an excess buildup of snow that was not initially an issue. With many of our structures being added to existing operations, more often than not, our fabric structures are placed next to taller buildings, so designing for drift load is a common challenge.
With our fabric structures’ natural design, the structures are actually able to make some reductions in the overall wind and snow loads. In all three of our building profiles, snow and ice are encouraged to slide right off, which allows us to safely reduce the amount of engineering required to meet specific snow loads. Our hybrid-style frame features a steep, pitched roof, which encourages snow to slide off or blow away naturally, while our round-style and gable-style frames feature roofs that have little to no flat surfaces, essentially preventing snow from building up at all. With the natural snow-load reduction qualities of the frame, the time required to design and engineer our buildings for specific snow loads is greatly reduced. While we take the necessary precautions to ensure everything is up to code, the natural features found in our frames allow us to decrease the amount of time required during design and engineering, allowing us to get your building to you quickly.
Aside from the building’s frame, our fabric covering also includes many features that help to reduce the snow-load requirements, while keeping your structure safe. Snow naturally falls from smooth surfaces with greater ease as compared to surfaces with large amounts of friction. Because of this, snow slides right off our rip-stop polyethylene covering with little to no coaxing required. Buildings with a shingled roof carry great amounts of friction, which cause snow and ice to stick, increasing the overall weight on the roof and increasing the snow-load requirements.
An added bonus of the fabric covering is that our covers come in a wide variety of colors, including dark colors, such as blue, green and red, that naturally attract the sun’s radiation to quickly heat the cover. In the same way that the black color of traditional roof shingles attracts sunlight, the darker color fabrics attract the sun’s radiation, helping the cover heat up and melt snow quickly and naturally. Unlike traditional roofing however, our fabric covers are designed to be flexible and move with the wind. This feature helps to loosen and break any snow or ice that collects on the cover, causing it to slide off. Our coverings heat up and drop any collected snow faster than traditional roofing shingles, which helps reduce the worry of excessive snow build up.
Our fabric structures are designed to stand up to a winter weather challenge. Snow, sleet and freezing rain slide right down thanks to our frame’s design and our one-of-a-kind polyethylene covering. While our team of engineers design each building to adhere to the proper wind and snow loads, there are a number of natural factors included in our structures that help them survive a winter storm. Keep your valuables covered and remain worry free when you add a ClearSpan Fabric Structure to your operation.