Commodity storage buildings are a huge financial investment. It’s important to consider not only the initial building cost but also the maintenance cost and the value of the stored items. When comparing building types used for commodity and grain storage, fabric buildings have several advantages.
Fabric buildings are naturally non-conductive. This will keep the inside of the building much cooler than the inside of a steel building. Steel sitting in the sun will be warm, even hot, to the touch – even hours after the sun goes down. In contrast, fabric will not retain heat from the sun or the outside environment. Keeping the outside out is one advantage fabric buildings have for commodity storage.
There are several ways to add ventilation to fabric buildings. A well-ventilated building is key to successful commodity storage. Keeping fresh air moving along the entire pile helps keep commodities (especially grain) cool, preventing spoilage and hot spots that can cause the grain to “bake” or even start a fire.
Many building types use open end walls or end wall vents for ventilation. This type of ventilation relies on air coming in through one side of the building and blowing all the way down the length of the building. It’s difficult to keep a large building ventilated this way – unless there is a constant wind blowing into the building, there will naturally be dead air spots near the center of the building. Adding the number of end wall vents required for a large building can increase the building cost significantly.
Fabric buildings can keep air moving over all the grain by adding ventilation under the overhangs and at the peak. Soffit ventilation allows fresh air to enter the length of the building from both sides – minimizing dead air spots within the building. This fresh air then pushes hot air out of the building through peak vents. The new cool air is lower to the ground and closer to the grain pile, and heat’s natural tendency to rise will keep it flowing out the top vent.
A passive air system like this keeps the commodity storage price low. Once the ventilation system is installed in the fabric building, it requires no maintenance. No matter how corrosive the environment or how heavy your stored material, there are no vents and no fans to corrode or clog. There’s no cost to run the ventilation system, and there’s no worry that it will quit during a particularly dry or hot spell.
Of course, fabric buildings can support more active ventilation systems as well. If your grain storage facility requires fans, intake and exhaust vents, open end walls or other ventilation systems, they can be added to your building. The fabric building will still remain cooler than a building made of steel. And a design-built building also gives you the options of using concrete walls for even more grain storage options.