President Barack Obama put out the word to American businesses to be more energy efficient and the American steel industry has stepped forward with a laundry list of ways that steel can save money, last longer and be greener than people might think.

The president called on businesses to make their commercial buildings more energy-efficient in an address at Penn State.

“[Obama] has laid out an aggressive plan for retrofitting commercial buildings with energy-efficient upgrades,” Lawrence W. Kavanagh, president of the Steel Market Development Institute said. “We can help businesses meet this challenge with steel technologies and products that are durable, cost-effective, provide long-term energy savings, and are available now.

“Steel offers energy-saving solutions for many building components,” he continued. “An example is cool metal roofing and wall products that help reduce building energy consumption by lowering cooling loads. Reflective metal roofs can save up to 40 percent in building cooling energy costs and are excellent options for commercial retrofit applications.”

Kavanagh said metal roofing can be efficiently installed with above sheathing ventilation in retrofit applications, which allows heat to dissipate through the ridge vent in hot weather while acting as an insulating layer when it is cold.

In addition to these direct energy-saving benefits, steel roofing and wall cladding contribute to an overall reduction in environmental impact. Steel construction materials in retrofit applications typically generate credits in green building certification programs and reduce the building’s carbon footprint.

Steel cladding is durable, offering long-term resistance to weather, including wind, hail, ice, and snow. Commercial metal roofs have been in service for more than 30 years, and painted metal roofs can be relied on for at least that long. Steel is produced using recycled materials and is fully recyclable at the end of its useful life. Reflective metal roofs can help reduce urban heat island effect. As an added benefit, steel roofing is lightweight, so a retrofit steel system can often be installed over an existing roof covering, reducing landfill waste.

“Wall and roof cladding products using steel can play a key role in achieving (President Obama’s) energy objectives by providing an attractive, durable retrofit alternative for the commercial building market that also reduces overall environmental impact,” Kavanagh said.