tension fabric sports structure interior with bright opaque energy efficient fabric ceiling and doors laid out with indoor tennis courts.

Whether for temporary or long term use, one key consideration in the decision on new building construction or lease is the energy efficiency of the new building. Leasing an older building usually means accepting less than optimal energy efficiency due to wear and tear that results in leakage of air from windows, doors and other openings, or from other energy wasters such as unused space, high wattage lighting or lighting where it is not needed, and so on. Building an energy efficient new building is a major investment in cost and time along with the long term maintenance costs of traditional structures. A third option for extra space needs is a tension fabric building.

Energy efficiency is key as companies strive to lower operating costs and reduce their carbon footprint. Tension fabric structures are naturally energy efficient, especially suited to deliver lower energy costs for lighting, heating and cooling. They have other advantages as well, including easy, quick installation without major site preparation needed, low maintenance requirements, and can be sized to avoid wasted space. These efficiencies are all factors that help minimize their energy footprint. Here are many ways that tension fabric structures reduce energy use.

Tension Fabric Structures Lower Energy Use

Even before installation, tension fabric structures (TFS) are a lower energy use solution. Because of its lightweight, modular engineered aluminum frame, tension fabric buildings are lightweight, lowering the cost of fuel to transport them to the site. Installation is fast and does not require pouring concrete for a foundation, saving the cost, time and high energy usage required in traditional construction. Allsite’s TFS can be configured for only the size required for your current project needs, eliminating the need to heat and cool unused space. As needs change, the size of the structure can be modified to accommodate the new square footage usage requirements. In traditional construction, it is estimated that up to 30% of the total weight of building materials is construction waste. With the TFS there is little to no waste and most every part is reusable.  

Lower Operational Energy Use

The TFS is constructed to optimize internal comfort levels and minimize the effects of the external environment. The heavy duty, specially formulated, high tensioned PVC fabric cover is UV resistant and the white fabric reflects solar radiation so that heat penetration into the structure is minimized. The fabric and frame are rust and corrosion resistant, avoiding damage that results in unwanted leakage of hot or cold air in steel buildings and in traditional construction. The TFS aluminum frame does not experience the expansion and contraction that happens with steel structures in changing weather, often resulting in damage and higher maintenance costs on the steel structure due to rusted and failing bolted connections.

The same bright white highly reflective ceiling allows efficient use of LED or similar lighting throughout, lowering the cost of internal lighting. The Allsite structure can be outfitted with HVAC for heating and cooling which operate more efficiently in the enclosed TFS environment than in more traditional buildings.

Energy Efficient Weatherproofing Features

clamshell doors help insulate inside of row of energy efficient tension fabric aircraft hangars on airport tarmac

Allsite provides a number of options to help manage energy efficiency in the tension fabric structure interior

Select Doors Best for the Application

Among these are selecting the appropriate doors for not only functionality but to decrease unnecessarily loss of heated or cooled air. A variety of openings are available to suit the need, such as overhead rollup cargo doors and double glass doors to provide for the least amount of wasted energy loss from inside to outdoors. Aircraft hangar installations can be outfitted with clamshell doors to seal off the entrance bay.

Ventilation

Allsite TFS can be configured with optional ventilation, including exhaust fans, louvers and ceiling fans. Adding skylights can bring in natural light to reduce artificial lighting and heating usage and add healthy natural light to the interior. 

Insulation Options

interior insulation liner covers floors and ceiling of a tension fabric structure

In areas of high heat, cold or precipitation, an Allsite structure can support up to R-30 insulation with an interior liner adds an additional layer of protection and aesthetics. The insulated liner adds to the retention of heated or cooled interior air and provides a moisture barrier to further secure the interior from the intrusion of water. The interior liner is removable and can be used on a seasonal basis or kept in place year round.

Among other weatherproofing options that make the interior more comfortable and lower heating and cooling costs are:

  • Concrete berms used mostly in temporary installations, run along the inside perimeter of the structure to prevent water from seeping inside the structure at ground level.
  • Beam flaps, which cover the beams, are laid across the modular roof sheets to prevent water from getting into the track of the beam and dripping at the splice points.
  • For permanent installations, a raised foundation of concrete ring beams can be run along the perimeter of the structure. Fabric is secured to the outside of the pad or beam, directing water runoff away from the structure.

Lower Carbon Footprint of Tension Fabric Buildings

snow covered terrain showing energy efficient fabric construction building that comfortable in extreme climates

Most of the elements of Allsite’s tension fabric structures produce benefits that lower the overall carbon footprint of the TFS when compared to a traditional building. And, in general, a lower carbon footprint means smarter use of resources and lower energy consumption, which lead to lower cost. In addition to lower energy consumption from the features we’ve discussed, other factors help reduce the CO2 impact of the Allsite TFS:

Aluminum, which makes up the frame of the TFS, has an indefinite life and is fully recyclable when no longer needed. This reduces the need to extract or manufacture new building materials. The structure is modular, reconfigurable and reusable for many short and long term projects over an extensive lifetime. The fabric cover is highly durable and resistant to mold and other contaminants, with a service life of about 30 years, allowing it to be used in a long-term permanent installation, or used and reused in a number of shorter term projects.

The TFS’s modular construction means faster installation with minimal tool use. With no need for a foundation, and minimal impact on the ground under the structure, these structures require minimal resources and do little environmental damage so that the land can be quickly restored to its natural state upon removal of the structure. Unlike traditional construction, few resources are needed to accomplish set up and removal.

Contact Allsite Structure Rentals

Tension fabric structures provide a low energy, low impact solution that is also versatile and fast when extra space is required. Contact Allsite Structure Rentals today at 888-599-5112 for more information.

Author Jason Cromwell

Jason Cromwell is the General Manager of Allsite Structure Rentals. He has a degree in Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Jason is a 12 year veteran in all matters related to Tension Fabric Structures with Allsite Structure Rentals and has over 20 years of sales, operations, and management experience. Read more about Jason and the rest of our team at https://allsitestructures.com/about/

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