Versatility leads to efficiency

Using pre-painted Z275 (G90) galvanized insulated steel panels to provide sustainability, energy efficiency along with durability - SMS Equipment Inc. Laval, Quebec

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When SMS Equipment was constructing a new facility just outside Laval, Quebec, the company was looking for a distinctive structure that reflected its business. 

SMS is the leading Canadian heavy machinery distributor for the construction, forestry, mining and utility industries and is Canada’s largest Komatsu dealer.

The superior insulating properties, increased spanning capabilities and single-step installation make Norbec panels efficient and cost-effective, particularly when compared to other wall assemblies. Photo: Normand Coté

The new building had to house offices, warehouses, workshops and a client service centre for consolidated staff from eastern regional offices along with Dorval and Mirabel branches. It also had to include a garage and big open yard for Komatsu equipment.

The architects conceived a contemporary, rectilinear building in one tonality of colours – shades of light and dark grey – punctuated with Komatsu’s recognizable trademark yellow. “We wanted to design a discreet building with the main colour highlighting the entrance with a double-height element,” said project architect, Normand Côté of GKC Architects in Montreal. 

Completed in 2017, the two-storey, 5,481m2 (59,000 sq ft), L-shaped building is a conventional steel frame structure with galvanized steel deck. Its entire envelope is clad in pre-painted insulated metal panels (IMP)supplied by Norbec Inc. and installed by Distribution Styro.

The architects chose these high-performance Norex panels for a variety of reasons, speed and ease of installation among them. “Because of a tight construction schedule through winter, the pre-finished panel installation facilitated sequencing and allowed us to quickly enclose the building with a single trade,” said Côté. 

The panels come as a single unit, incorporating a pre-painted Z275 (G90) galvanized interior liner, factory-applied air and vapor shield, insulated foam core and finished exterior surface of pre-painted Z275 (G90) galvanized steel. Having the interior, exterior and insulation layers all complete at installation enabled interior trades to start work immediately after the building elevations were complete.

The versatility of Norbec’s insulated steel Norex panels makes it easy to coordinate them with other products – including glazing and the yellow aluminum panel used for the main entrance. Photo: Alex St Jean

Norbec’s insulated steel Norex panels are versatile, which makes it easy to coordinate them with other products – such as the yellow aluminum panel used for the main entrance. 

IMPs are available in various profiles, colours and gauges for different applications. Norbec’s profiles (striated, micro-ribbed, fluted or no profile) and finishes (smooth and embossed) are washable as well as weather and corrosion resistant, factors that must be considered when choosing materials that can withstand Quebec winters.

Norex panels are insulated with a polyurethane core, which offers unparalleled thermal performance. The 76.2mm (3 inch) thick panel has an R value of 7.27.

Norex-H is bent in the factory to accommodate the corners of a building creating a seamless look. This procedure eliminates the need for finished moldings. This particular project was done in Norex-H (horizontal joints) as well as Norex-L (vertical joints). The use of contrasting colors and the windows create a coherent design. The micro-ribbed profile on the panel finishes gives a smooth effect from afar while adding structural integrity to the panels. Photo: Normand Coté

Using a panel with such a narrow profile allowed engineers to reduce the foundation wall thickness, resulting in significant budget savings. The steel structure was also minimized.

In addition to providing fire and rain protection, the panels resist wind and tears because of their exclusive anchoring system. The lightweight, rigid unit has exceptional spanning capacity.

“The core strength of the panel allows girt spacing to be 3.05m (10 feet) on centre, as opposed to 1.22m (4 feet) o.c. as with typical metal panel,” said Distribution Styro’s Maxime Bergeron. As well, these steel panels with their even sheen resemble aluminium, without the hefty price tag.

The SMS building’s north and west elevations feature light and dark grey panels (Norex H) with strong horizontal reveals, while the remaining elevations are clad in light grey panels (Norex L) with vertical joints. A continuous dark grey horizontal band (Norex L) wraps the entire complex.

To provide a different aesthetic for the highway and public-facing facades, the IMP enclosure is clad with cement board coated with a light grey textured acrylic finish to resemble precast concrete, an appropriate material for SMS’s industry.

The architects designed the building elevations by creating architectural compositions of interlocking modules and aligned joints. “I think we were able to create a harmonious whole within a modular system, despite working with a predefined (‘restrictive’) panel width,” said Côté. The factory shopped prefabricated modules ensure strict quality control.

Generous curtain wall and punched window openings bring light deep into the building. The white coating on the inside of the panels helps to distribute and reflect light around the interior, providing a general luminosity, particularly in the service garage where Komatsu equipment is maintained. The design of the facility enhances the safety and well-being for all employees.

The building recently received LEED® NC certification. Sustainable strategies include LED lighting, electric vehicle charging, 35 per cent use of local materials, white roof coating to reduce heat island effect, low VOCs and low-flow fixtures, which reduced water consumption by 73 per cent. The building’s energy use is reduced by 50 per cent as compared to ASHRAE 90.1, representing a savings of 1.5 million kWH per year.

“We were trying to be cost-effective without compromising on the aesthetic of the finished product,” explained Côté.

“With this architectural look we were trying to achieve a nice design with nice finishes while bringing engineering value to the building and being conscientious of our budget.”

Norbec Inc. Insulated Steel Panel Information -- Norex® Panels

Norex is a (polyurethane) polyisocyanurate core panel designed for highly efficient buildings. In addition to offering unparalleled thermal value, this panel provides fire and rain protection barriers as well as being wind and tear resistant because of its exclusive anchoring system when installed. This product is designed with an equalization compartment preventing water from being aspired inward therefore reducing the risk of penetration and moisture.

Photo: Normand Coté

Advantages of Norbec insulated steel panels:

- Superior insulation – thermally efficient

- Durability – maintain their appearance for years

- Ease of installation – installed in one simple step

- Design flexibility – versatile with a variety of colours and finishes

- Available for both horizontal and vertical applications

- High strength-to-weight ratio

- Recyclable and reusable at the end of its service life


Exterior Steel Panel .7239 mm (.0285”) Colour: 17-1627 Bright Silver, 17-1626 Pewter, QC28229 Brown, QC9789 Rigel II Grey Profile Silkline Plus (striated)

Interior Steel Panel .483mm (.019”)

Colour: QC7973 White

Profile: Silkline (striated)


SMS Equipment Komatsu, Laval (450) 781 9600


GKC Architects (514) 737-6255

Structural Engineers

C.L.A. Experts- Conseils Inc. (450) 477-4423

General Contractor

Groupe Montoni (450) 978-7500

Insulated Panel Supplier

Norbec Inc.  (450) 449-1499 

Panel Installer

Styro Distributions.  (418) 872-2156

Roof Installer

Toiture Couture (514) 238-8310

Roof Supplier

Fransyl, (450) 477-4423

Structural Steel

Structures Sim-Con Inc  (450) 658-8514

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