Building Tall, Affordably
“The higher you go, the more susceptible a building is to hurricane or tornado damage,” said David South, president of Monolithic, at a discussion of the latest in warehouses, distribution centers and storage facilities.
“But going high, or expanding vertically instead of horizontally, is exactly what today’s companies want and need to do,” David continued. "They need to go up to get the storage space they need from a minimum amount of land. But going up has to be affordable – in its construction and operation. That’s why the Monolithic Dome makes an ideal automated warehouse.
“We can design and build a Monolithic Dome equipped with the latest Automated Storage and Retrieval System that can stack or place goods up to 100 – even 200 feet – up. The Monolithic Dome is a tough building – the toughest you can affordably build today.”
A Tough Structure
Built as one-piece, steel-reinforced concrete structures, Monolithic Domes have an innate ability to survive natural disasters, such as tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes. They provide what FEMA calls “near-absolute protection,” a term FEMA introduced in its July 2000, First Edition of Design and Construction Guidance for Community Shelters.
According to FEMA, Monolithic Domes meet or exceed all its standards for structures that provide near-absolute protection from injury or death in extreme-wind events.
Confidence in the disaster-resisting ability of Monolithic Domes led FEMA to award a grant in 2002 for the construction of a Monolithic Dome home in Pensacola Beach, Florida. Since then, Dome of a Home successfully survived Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Dennis in 2005.
In 2009, FEMA also funded 90% of the cost of a Monolithic school building that could double as a tornado shelter in Niangua, Missouri and 75% of the cost of Monolithic tornado shelters at two mobile home parks in Licking County, Ohio.
A Forever Structure
With a minimum of maintenance, Monolithic Domes have a lifespan measured in centuries, not years.
Moreover, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes aren’t the only menaces that threaten but cannot destroy the domes. They’re impervious to rifle and handgun bullets, termites, rot and FIRE.
The nationally used International Building Code categorizes structures based on their ability to resist fire. Type I and Type II structures, built primarily of noncombustibles, such as concrete, steel, metal and masonry are most fire-resistant and earn the highest grade. Monolithic Domes, built of concrete and steel, qualify for a Type II or better rating.
In August 2002, the Bryant Fire created an estimated $2.5 million in damages in Yucaipa, California, but left Vista Dhome, an aerodynamic design of three Monolithic Domes, virtually unscathed. Once flames were under control, a fire captain told the owner, “You do know that if this structure had been made of normal construction that you would have a pile of ashes now.”
A Big Advantage
“For a warehouse, distribution center or any storage facility, fire-resistance is a super advantage,” David said. "It means that a fire on the outside of a Monolithic Dome cannot destroy whatever is inside the dome.
“And for a cold storage facility it means even more. An automated Monolithic Dome cold storage probably would not need an internal fire sprinkler system. That’s a big savings.
“We’ve been building freezer storage domes since 1979, but the introduction of the AS/RS system will enable us to construct larger, taller domes that store significantly more product with only a marginal increase in cost,” he added.
An Energy Miser
Monolithic Domes, super insulated with an encapsulating blanket of up to five inches of polyurethane foam, have an R-value of 60 or more. “That makes them a real Scrooge when it comes to energy use,” David said. “They are air tight and leak-proof, resulting in less condensation.”
Then too, the concrete’s thermal properties contribute to the dome’s energy efficiency. So, a cold storage can be cooled during less expensive, off-peak, night-time hours and maintain its cold temperature throughout the day.
“If a Monolithic Dome is cooled to –5 degrees F at night, the temperature will only rise 2 degrees during the day when electricity prices are at their highest,” David said. “The compressor can then be turned back on again at night to achieve the desired temperature.”
Ideal and Automated
Because the domes have a clear-span interior and are sturdy enough for condensers to hang from the ceiling, they can include a rail-running AS/RS designed specifically for the dome’s round configuration.
“Simply put, Monolithic Domes can be built taller than other kinds of structures,” David said. “And they can be fully automated. That results in a more efficient use of space. Monolithic Domes as tall as 250 feet make better use of land. That’s especially important in areas near ports where sites are limited.”
June 8, 2009