An industry-wide program designed to increase the use of metal in the commercial construction market is now in progress. Known as The Metal Initiative and themed "It must be metal," the national educational and promotional plan was introduced at the Metal Construction Association's 2005 Annual Meeting, held in January in La Jolla, Calif.

The educational and promotional program focuses on increasing the selection of metal roofs and walls in commercial, industrial and institutional building sectors and targets building owners, architects, designers, consultants, and contractors. It is based on $10.5 million in funding over a five-year period, and the initial outreach has generated fantastic results.

"By early February we were at 25 percent of our funding goals," said Steve Collins, marketing director for the Metal Initiative. "This exceeds everyone's expectations at this early stage, putting us well on our way to a very solid, very effective campaign. We expect members of other associations, including AISI and the Aluminum Association, to be on board soon."

The primary goals are to: increase metal roof and wall market share by 25 percent; achieve an increase of more than 600,000 tons of steel, aluminum, copper; and to increase sales of metal products by $2 billion. Currently, metal accounts for approximately 20 percent of roofing and 24 percent of wall panel in the commercial, industrial and institutional markets.

The program incorporates an owner/gatekeeper strategy to influence building owners and the building professionals charged with the responsibility of constructing a building to the owner's specifications.

MCA, the Aluminum Association, and the American Iron and Steel Institute funded initial research among architects prior to creating the Metal Initiative. Of the architects polled, 50 percent think metal is not a long-term material aesthetically; 50 percent think metal is not sustainable; and 50 percent have the misconception metal is too expensive.

Activities have begun and by May the first ads and articles will begin to appear in major publications serving target horizontal groups. For more information about the program visit or call Steve Collins at (847) 375-4814.