As the world grapples with increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather patterns, finding innovative solutions to address the challenges record heat poses is a high priority. That’s especially apt for those working outside in remote work areas and at construction sites.
One solution that’s gaining traction is the use of fabric buildings to provide shelter and shade in the face of scorching temperatures.
These versatile structures offer a range of benefits, from flexibility and cost-saving advantages to sustainability and adaptability. These benefits make them incredibly effective at keeping construction projects moving and on schedule, even in record heat.
Rising Temperatures and the Need for Innovative Shade Structures
Politics aside, the global rise in average temperatures has put a hamper on construction projects located in remote and warm climates.
Unfortunately, “heatwave” is a term we’re all too familiar with at this point. Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense, posing a serious threat to human health, infrastructure and much more.
In regions where extreme heat is becoming the norm, finding ways to offer respite from the blistering sun is crucial. People working outside and exposed to the sun for extended periods of time need a fast, reliable, and innovative solution for heat illness prevention.
Fabric buildings are the answer. We’ll look more closely at their features and benefits as shade structures.
Versatility and Adaptability
Fabric buildings, also known as tensioned membrane structures, are designed using durable and high-quality fabrics that are stretched over a galvanized steel or aluminum frame to create a sturdy yet flexible facility to escape the heat.
Fabric building designs allow for a wide range of shapes and sizes, making these structures adaptable to various environments and needs, regardless of your construction or remote work site location.
Whether you’re providing shade for workers on a remote construction project, shade in urban parks, temporary shelters in disaster-stricken areas, or covered spaces for outdoor events, you can design fabric buildings to suit each situation’s specific requirements.
Companies commonly use tensioned fabric structures as outdoor protection for workers and labor forces on job sites because OSHA-required shade is becoming more and more a requirement for safety reasons — as well as more widely known.
Efficient Heat Management
One of the other primary advantages of fabric shade structures in extreme heat is their ability to efficiently handle some of the harshest global temperatures.
Fabric buildings from Alaska Structures® can be configured with an assortment of energy-saving and proprietary solutions to create simple shade structures or temperature-controlled “cooling shelters” for workers to quickly cool down when temperatures soar well into the triple digits.
With nearly 50 years of providing engineered fabric buildings, to both hot and cold climates, Alaska Structures® has a proven track record for delivering solutions that enable companies to drastically reduce construction schedules and protect workers from the harsh conditions of remote job sites. Below are a few of the many solutions Alaska Structures® offers.
Alaska Structures have coated, tensioned membranes that may have an additional level of insulation if desired:
- Liner System. Our liner material has reflective properties and when installed in a fabric building from Alaska Structures, aids in reducing heat absorption and creates a cooler environment than the ambient temperature. Our liner systems are a great solution for creating shade structures for workers.
- Alaska EnerLayer® is a proprietary, supplemental insulation system available for any of our fabric building solutions. The Alaska EnerLayer® insulation system drastically reduces the energy needed to cool our fabric buildings by up to 22%.
- Alaska SuperLayer® is another proprietary, supplemental insulation system designed to increase energy efficiency and support commercial operations needing to create onsite and temperature-controlled facilities.
- The Alaska ECU® is a revolutionary portable HVAC system designed to support operations in extreme climates around the world. Alaska Structures manufactures the Alaska ECU® (environmental control unit) in 2.5-ton and 5-ton capacities.
- The Alaska Solar Fly® can be added to any fabric building from Alaska Structures® and reduces power consumption to cool our building solutions by up to 17%.
Cost-Effectiveness and Sustainability
Traditional construction methods for permanent structures are expensive and time-consuming, to say the least.
Prefabricated building solutions – like those from Alaska Structures® offer many cost-saving benefits including:
- Faster production and delivery times
- Low weight and cube for reducing the logistics of transportation to remote sites
- Minimal foundation requirements (less pre-construction site work)
- Fast construction schedules. For example: an 80’ wide x 100’ long building, once delivered to the site can be completely installed in less than 15 days with a crew of 8. Alaska Structures® offers expeditionary shelter systems capable of being set up in as little as 15 minutes.
- Once installed, fabric buildings from Alaska Structures® are virtually maintenance-free
- The ability to install and leave in place as a permanent on-site facility or easily taken down and moved to the next construction site (used as a temporary fabric structure)
Alaska Structures® uses lean manufacturing processes that reduce the amount of waste and recycle unused materials. Not only do our fabric buildings reduce construction schedules and require less pre-site construction, but also reduce the labor and equipment needed for installation.
All of these time and cost-saving benefits also reduce the environmental footprint of our building systems. This allows our customers to focus on beginning operations faster while supporting more sustainable business practices.
If you are looking for a simple shade structure for workers to get out of the sun, our WeatherPort® brand of heavy-duty canopies offer extreme durability, rapid setup and takedown, and a far superior solution to typical pop-up canopies that are easily damaged in areas with high winds.
Community Spaces and Disaster Relief
Fabric buildings have shown their worth in many varied scenarios.
In urban areas undergoing extreme heat, teams can assemble fabric structures as temporary community gathering spaces (especially for unhoused people). In turn, they act as shade structures or cooling shelters and offer protection for residents without access to air conditioning.
During disaster recovery and relief efforts, when rapid shelter solutions are critical, fabric buildings offer a swift and reliable means of providing housing, dining, and hygiene facilities for displaced people. This is a major — and vital — form of heat illness protection.
Furthermore, as we stated earlier, fabric buildings as shade structures are common and easy solutions for all manner of remote work areas and construction sites.
Challenges and Considerations
Fabric buildings innately offer a range of benefits, especially ones from Alaska Structures®. Our shade structures, cooling shelters, and temperature-controlled facilities are designed for durability.
In addition to reducing the maintenance and upkeep (compared to typical wood-built structures), our fabric buildings are also engineered to meet area-specific wind and snow loads required by the local and International Building Code (IBC) for safety and long-lasting reliability.
Our tensioned fabric membranes are made with a built-in UV stabilizer. Not coated for superior durability against prolonged exposure in areas with high solar loads. Unlike fabric covers from other building manufacturers. Our fabric membranes also offer greater abrasion resistance, are chemically inert, will not rot, and are mold and mildew-resistant.
Alaska Structures® also provides fabric membranes. They meet the fire safety requirements outlined in the California Code of Regulations (CCR) for membrane structures.
Remember: Every state has its own OSHA-required shade guidelines to protect workers in a variety of climate conditions. For example, Oregon has key requirements based on heat index (numbers reflecting the relationship between relative humidity and air temperature).
Whereas hotter states like Arizona and New Mexico benefit substantially from the Biden administration’s new efforts to set up national heat standards for workers and communities. One of these standards includes heat-related interventions at workplaces when the heat index is 80 degrees or higher. In Arizona, 80 degrees is the beginning point to watch for signs of heat exhaustion despite the state having low humidity levels.
Fabric structures aid workers when interventions are needed.
Contact Alaska Structures for Cooling Fabric Structures
As the world continues to combat the effects of rising temperatures and extreme heat, innovative solutions like fabric buildings are gaining recognition. They are ideal solutions for many reasons, particularly for their ability to quickly provide shelter and shade with versatility, cost-saving, and environmental benefits.
Fabric buildings from Alaska Structures® not only offer superior sun protection but also serve as symbols of engineering ingenuity and employer responsibility in the face of climate challenges.
With the right design and materials, fabric shade structures can play a significant role in creating safer and more comfortable environments for workers coping with record-high temperatures at construction and remote work sites.
For more information or to request a quote for a fabric building from Alaska Structures®, call +1-907-344-1565 or contact us online.