US 20020112435 A1
An improved building panel and attachment system for the production of structures with improved energy efficiency and fire safety characteristics. Panels are formed from a structural angle I beam with angles emerging from a web and forming dovetail shaped channels. The dovetail channels provide anchorage points for cross members within the panels as well as weather-stripping and mechanical joints between panels and a building frame. The unique assembly method allows the insulation value and fire safety of the building to be radically improved over conventional commercial structures. Fiberglass can be combined with low thermal conductivity gases such as Argon to improve R-Values by about 40% over existing building stock. Heat and smoke can be vented from the building during a fire to slow the onset of flashover and the safety of fire fighting personnel can be enhanced when they reach the fire scene.
Improved insulating panels, daylighting panels with light attenuation and heat dissipation means, as well as solar panels for solar heating and night sky cooling are shown. These can be assembled into a variety of functional roof and wall configurations for reducing building operating costs and creating more attractive retail and commercial buildings. Improved air distribution systems, and thin film collectors allow for production of an entire roof of collectors at a reasonable cost. Novel assembly methods allow for improvements in construction cost and safety. An advanced control system for balancing daylighting and artificial lighting is shown, along with a demand side management, (DSM), energy utilization system.
1. A structural beam elongated in a first direction and having a transverse cross section comprising: two flanges joined by a web, said web being substantially perpendicular to said flanges and joining said flanges roughly at a central point, and
at least two angle sections, each said angle section attached to said web near one of said flanges and having a free end, forming an acute angle to the portion of said web closest to said near flange; said web, said near flange, and each of said at least two angle sections forming
a roughly dovetail shaped channel with an aperture opening into an interior cavity with a flange surface on one side, an opposed surface diverging from said flange surface on the other side and having a bottom section facing said aperture and connecting said flange surface with said opposed surface;
2. The beam of
3. The beam of
4. The beam of
5. The beam of
a) a plurality of cross members of a length somewhat less than the span between the webs of said side rails, said cross members attached to the flanges of said at least two side rails, and
b) attachment means for securing said cross members to said flanges,
whereby, a large variety of complex structures can be produced from said structural beam.
6. The openwork frame of
a) a pair of end plates, each of said end plates attached to said side rails at one end of said openwork frame, said end plates having face surfaces that largely fill the area between said side rails and lie perpendicular to said side rails and said exterior and interior planes,
b) an interior skin, said interior skin covering said second set of flanges and cross members and additionally wrapped around the edges of said second set of flanges and bent to cover said face surfaces of said end plates, said interior skin at least partly bonded to said second set of flanges and cross members and said face surfaces, and
c) an exterior skin, said interior skin covering said first set of flanges and cross members and additionally wrapped around the edges of said first set of flanges and bent to cover at least part of said interior skin in the area of said face surfaces, said exterior skin at least partly bonded to said first set of flanges and cross members and said interior skin in the area of said face surfaces,
d) said openwork frame, said pair of end plates, said interior skin, and said exterior skin comprising a building panel, said building panel further including energy conservation means for controlling the flow of energy,
whereby; said building panel can be utilized in a variety of demand side management energy conservation strategies and be assembled in configurations suited to many different structures.
7. The building panel of
a) an exterior connector means for weather-stripping and mechanically connecting said building panels across said predetermined gap, said exterior connector means engaging two of said roughly dovetail shaped channels that are adjacent to one another when said sheathing assembly is completed,
b) a building connector means for structurally connecting said building panels to one another and additionally connecting said building panels to said building frame members in the area where said building panels cross said building frame members, said building connector means being positioned at said predetermined gap and engaging two of said roughly dovetail shaped channels that are adjacent to one another when said sheathing assembly is completed,
c) a sealing means for weather-stripping the joint between the ends of said building panels, said sealing means positioned between the ends of adjacent building panels and somewhat compressed by said building panels when said sheathing assembly is completed, and
d) specialized connector means for connecting said building panels to a specialized building component such as a first or last member of said series of building frame members, an eave joint, or a door frame,
whereby; said sheathing assembly can serve as a roof deck, wall section, or other structural assembly while providing for economical, modular field assembly and energy savings during it's useful lifetime.
8. The sheathing assembly of
a) at least one relatively rigid connector, having a curved unactuated shape and a slightly flattened actuated shape, and having an outer surface and an inner surface, said connector being elongated in a first direction and having a major arched portion with a concave curvature toward said inner surface and two minor arched portions with convex curvature toward said inner surface extending transverse to said direction of elongation, said two minor arched portions ending in a tip section,
b) at least one structural bracket elongated in a first direction and having a roughly rectangular portion surmounted by a flange portion with bulb enlargements at the edges of said flange portion entending transverse to said direction of elongation, the width of said rectangular portion being roughly equal to said predetermined gap, and the width of said flange portion being slightly less than the spacing between adjacent bottom sections of said side rails,
c) a pair of slotted holes through said building frame members at the areas where said predetermined gaps cross said members in the assembled form of said sheathing assembly,
d) at least one pair of square apertures through said relatively rigid connector, said apertures spaced at a distance approximately equal to the spacing of said slotted holes,
e) at least one pair of through holes passing through said structural bracket, said through holes spaced at a distance approximately equal to the spacing of said slotted holes, and
f) at least two sets of carriage bolts, nuts, and washers, said at least two carriage bolts passing through said square apertures, said through holes and said slotted holes, said at least two bolts securing said inner surface against said flange portion and the bottom of said rectangular portion against said building frame member,
whereby; tightening said nuts onto said carriage bolts from the underside of said building frame member actuates said rigid connector and engages said roughly dovetail shaped channels with said tip sections and said flange portions.
9. The sheathing assembly of
a) a fibrous insulation layer positioned between said exterior plane, said interior plane and said spaced apart side rails,
b) closure means for sealing all seams between said interior skin layer, said exterior skin layer, and said openwork frame to provide a hermetic enclosure for said building panel,
c) a gas fill material with a lower thermal conductivity than air contained within said hermetic enclosure, and
d) said openwork frame having said first set of cross members each paired and aligned with a member of said second set cross members along the length of said side rails, with a thermally insulating, load transmitting post disposed at the center of said cross members and secured between each said pair,
whereby; heat transmission through said sheathing assembly can be reduced relative to prior art building sheathing and said openwork frame can be effectively utilized to transmit a building load from said exterior plane to said interior plane.
10. The sheathing assembly of
11. The sheathing assembly of
a) a series of fluid distribution holes through said angle sections of said side rails closest to said exterior planes,
b) a plenum cover affixed to and spanning said free ends of said at least two angle sections positioned on one side of said web, said plenum cover, said at least two angle sections and said web comprising a fluid distribution plenum integral to said side rails, and positioned in said predetermined gaps,
c) fluid routing means for transmitting a process fluid from one of said dovetail channels positioned nearest said exterior plane to another such dovetail channel at the opposite side of said building panel and for maintaining thermal contact between said process fluid and said exterior skin layer,
d) fluid supply means for introducing said process fluid to a first plenum situated at one side rail of said building panel, and
e) fluid return means for removing said process fluid from a second plenum situated at the opposite side rail of said building panel,
whereby; said sheathing assembly can function as a heat exchange surface transferring thermal energy for solar heating, night sky cooling or other demand side management applications between said process fluid and the environment external to said panel.
12. The sheathing assembly of
a) a translucent film having a pattern of shallow raised portions at a lower side and a light absorbing and emitting surface at an upper side,
b) said film substantially covering said exterior skin layer, wrapping around said flanges and ending within said dovetail shaped channels on both sides of said building panel,
c) with said shallow raised portions bonded to said pre-painted sheet metal, and said film continuously bonded to said pre-painted sheet metal at the ends of said building panel,
d) said translucent film and said pre-painted sheet metal comprising a capillary fluid channel between said dovetail shaped channels in areas between said pattern of shallow raised portions,
whereby; said process fluid can absorb solar energy from surfaces directly receiving it and said light absorbing and emitting surface can be effectively used for night sky cooling.
13. The sheathing assembly of
14. The sheathing assembly of
15. The sheathing assembly of
16. The sheathing assembly of
a) a plenum cover affixed to and spanning said free ends of said at least two angle sections positioned on one side of said web, said plenum cover, said at least two angle sections and said web comprising a fluid distribution plenum integral to said side rails, and positioned in said predetermined gaps,
b) a series of cooling holes through said webs at the center of said side rails,
c) a fluid supply means for introducing a process fluid to a first plenum situated at one side of said building panel, and
d) a fluid return means for removing said process fluid from a second plenum situated at the opposite side rail of said building panel,
whereby; heat buildup within said building panel can be removed by said process fluid and utilized elsewhere within a demand side management energy utilization design.
17. The sheathing assembly of
18. The sheathing assembly of
a) one of said four dovetail shaped channels located at the interior of said building panel near said exterior plane on each of said side rails comprising a pivot channel,
b) a second of said four dovetail shaped channels located at the interior of said building panel near said interior plane on each of said side rails comprising a bracket channel,
c) a pair of pivot guides, each engaging a pivot channel, each said pivot guide being elongated in a first direction and having a pivot section turning at an acute angle into an anchor section transverse to said direction of elongation, said anchor section having a snug fit within said pivot channels, said pivot section having a series of regularly spaced pivot holes that are indexed and aligned to the corresponding pivot section at the opposing side rail,
d) a movable guide, slidably engaging one of said bracket channels, said movable guide elongated in a first direction and having a control section turning at an acute angle into a glide section that is contained in said bracket channel transverse to said direction of elongation, said control section being oriented roughly parallel to and opposing one of said pivot guides and having a series of guide slots transverse to said direction of elongation,
e) a plurality of louvers, said louvers having a diffusely reflective surface finish and being formed from an insulating material, each said louver having a length slightly more than the spacing between said pivot sections and a dogbone like cross sectional profile with an upper curved post capable of fitting within said pivot holes and a lower curved post capable of fitting between said guide slots with a thinner web portion between said curvatures, said web portion removed from the louver a small distance from each end,
f) said plurality of louvers engaging said pivot holes with said upper curved posts and engaging said guide slots with said lower curved posts, aligned roughly perpendicular to said side rails and free to rotate about said pivot holes based on the position of said movable guide, and
g) actuator means for engaging and positioning said plurality of louvers in unison,
whereby; said sheathing assembly can be used in conjunction with a daylighting control system to modulate interior light levels while capturing excess light as heat for use elsewhere in an energy control system.
19. The sheathing assembly of
20. The energy circulation system of
a) air utilized as said process fluid,
b) a blower with a suction port and a discharge port, with said discharge port connected to said energy storage means by ductwork and said suction port connected to said sheathing assembly by means of first air distribution system, and
c) said sheathing assembly connected to said energy storage means by means of a second air distribution system,
d) said first and said second air distribution systems having common elements comprising;
e) a number of rectangular transfer ducts that are attached to an fit within the contours of said building frame members,
f) a plurality of rectangular openings in said transfer ducts that are positioned in close proximity to said predetermined gaps in said sheathing assembly,
g) a plurality of branch tees, each said tee with a base adapted to fit and lock into said rectangular openings, and adapted to transfer flow between a pair of side arms and said base,
h) a plurality connection boots, each said connection boot being elongated in a first direction and having a hollow trapezoidal shape perpendicular to said direction with dimensions appropriate to fit between said angle sections while placed against said webs, said boots further including rectangular apertures at the wide side of said trapezoidal shape with dimensions capable of snugly engaging said branch tee side arms,
wherein said first air distribution system connects to said sheathing assembly at alternating predetermined gaps relative to said second air distribution system and said building panels have flow transmitting means for transfer of and energy exchange with said process fluid between said first air distribution system and said second air distribution system.
21. The energy circulation system of
a) a vertical water storage tank for water having a heat exchange jacket largely encompassing the sides of said tank, and having inlet and outlet ports for said water,
b) said heat exchange jacket having circulation passages, inlet, and outlet ports for said process fluid,
c) a pumping means for circulation of said water to a set of energy usage devices, said pumping means including a pump and further including a suction supply piping system, and
d) said suction supply piping system comprising piping to said pump from one of said water outlet ports, and flow selection means for switching the supply of said pump to an alternate thermally conditioned water source.
22. The energy circulation system of
23. The building energy management system of
24. The building energy management system of
25. A fire safety system for a building, comprising,
a) a plurality of pre-fabricated panels with attachment means at their long edges and spaced apart from one another by a predetermined gap in an assembled roof deck, said roof deck supported by a set of building frame members and having a roughly planar exterior surface and a relatively planar interior surface,
b) a structural fire resistant connector system positioned at said gap in the areas where said attachment means cross said said frame members, said fire resistant connector system having an installation position and an actuated position, said pre-fabricated panels being locked relative to one another and said frame members in the actuated position of said fire resistant connector system, and
c) an exterior joint means positioned at said said gap between said prefabricated panels and having an assembled configuration in said assembled roof deck and having a fire configuration in the presence of a fire condition within said building,
said exterior joint means engaging said attachment means at said exterior surface and forming a mechanical joint and a weatherstrip seal between said pre-fabricated panels in said assembled configuration, and
said exterior joint means disengaged from said attachment means and providing a path through said predetermined gap between said exterior surface and said interior surface in said fire configuration,
whereby; said fire safety system allows the release of heat and smoke at the onset of said fire condition, limiting the tendency towards flashover in said building, and permits the flow of water and other fire fighting measures through said roof deck in the area of said fire condition on arrival of fire fighting personnel to said building.
26. A clamping system for assembling parts to form an openwork frame, said clamping system comprising:
a) at least one beam having at least one channel with an opening extending into a roughly dovetail interior shape, said interior shape having a flange surface and a reaction surface roughly opposed to and spaced apart from said flange surface,
b) at least one relatively rigid connector elongated in a first direction and having a lever portion continuing into a tip portion at an angle to said lever portion transverse to said direction of elongation, said lever portion and said tip portion connected on one side by a convex pivot surface, and
c) at least one cross member having a first side and a second side, and having at least one end modified on said first side to form a mating surface that is roughly congruent to said flange surface, and having said at least one end modified on said second side to serve as a fulcrum surface,
d) said clamping system having a setup configuration and an assembled configuration, wherein said mating surface is registered to said flange surface in both configurations, said pivot surface is contacting said fulcrum surface in both configurations,
e) said tip portion is inserted through said opening into said roughly dovetail interior interior shape in said setup configuration and engaging said reaction surface in said assembled configuration, and said lever portion is affixed to said cross member in said assembled configuration, further including;
f) an actuating means for moving said clamping system between said setup configuration and said assembled configuration and for applying a modest force to said lever portion,
g) a securing means for attaching said cross member to said lever portion, and maintaining a fixed position between said relatively rigid connector and said at least one channel in said assembled configuration,
whereby; said clamping system enables a rapid, precision, pull-out proof assembly of said openwork frame without directly perforating and placing a conventional fastener through the joint between said at least one cross member and said at least one beam.
 Provisional Patent Application US 714 60/215.919 filed Jul. 3, 2000 by Paul H. Hartman
 1. Field of Invention
 This invention relates to structures, specifically to commercial buildings that provide demand side management energy savings, and improved fire safety.
 2. Description of Prior Art
 There is a great need and public support for improving the energy efficiency in the United States. Commercial buildings account for one-sixth of national energy consumption and 32% of electricity use, yet roof R values average about 10 for most small and medium size structures.
 In general, insulation ratings are compromised in systems buildings by compression of insulation at metal purlins. This degrades the already low insulation value installed because of cost considerations. Other factors are the tenuous vapor barrier of insulation facing and the practice of stapling seams of facing together contribute to eventual condensation, further degradation of R- value and corrosion on the underside of the roof deck.
 A number of workers, such as Clemenson (U.S. Pat. No. 4,738,072), Sparkes (U.S. Pat. No. 4,875,320), and Bolich (U.S. Pat. No. 5,724,780) have attempted to solve compression of insulation by techniques to encapsulate the metal purlins and expand the insulation to it's full thickness with supporting structures. These systems add complexity and cost to an already tedious construction system with multiple passes across the roof deck during installation. They do not improve the R-value of fiberglass insulation and do not address the basic problem of the metal purlins introducing a thermal short circuit.
 One approach to insulation improvement is the use insulating gas mixtures as typically used in windows and some foams, example Rotermund (U.S. Pat. No. 5,965,231). To date, it has not been used extensively with conventional fiberglass insulation.
 Another approach to solving insulation problems has been to utilize structural insulated panels with foam cores as typified by Sauer (U.S. Pat. No. 3,760,548). These systems are yet more expensive, and rarely used to replace the purlins; structural properties are not used effectively. Because they are universally attached to the structure with self-drilling screws that pass through the joints between panels, two problems arise. Roof leakage must be dealt with and is the most common source of building user complaints and lawsuits.
 The tight barrier often causes rapid flashover in a building fire. The organic foam insulation contributes large amounts of smoke, and can occasionally melt; passing through the screw holes and adding combustibles to a second phase of the fire. Fire fighters reaching a blaze typically need to chop a hole in the roof deck to locate the fire and to begin fighting it. These problems are generally even more accentuated in flat roof buildings.
 A number of workers have attempted to deal with fire fighting issues. Shapiro (U.S. Pat. No. 5,483,956) and Smith (U.S. Pat. No. 5,027,741) have devices for aiding in escape from a smoke filled environment. Welch (U.S. Pat. No. 5,927,990) and Astell (U.S. Pat. No. 6,114,948) deal with aiding fire fighters in smoke and flashover situations. L'Heureux (U.S. Pat. No. 5,165,659) improves on methods for opening up shingle/plywood roofs in fires. None of these fine efforts deal with the basic causes of the problem, which are heat and smoke containment and to some extent contribution of combustibles from the roof deck.
 Sprinklers are an alternative approach that is not often used in small to medium sized buildings because of initial cost, complexity, and difficulty of maintenance. Walls (U.S. Pat. No. 6,003,609) attempts to solve this through a ceiling/roof mounted modular device using fire-retardant chemical released by a fusable link. Anghinetti (U.S. Pat. No. 4,104,834), Morris (U.S. Pat. No. 6,161,348), Veen (U.S. Pat. No. 3,788,013) and Lyons (U.S. Pat. No. 5,960,596) are among a large group of fire vents that release smoke and heat from fires. Some of the factors limiting use of these measures are again cost, the inability locate them in the exact area of the fire, and effective weatherproofing of the roof membrane where these devices penetrate the roof deck.
 Lighting is one of the highest operating costs for many retail operations. More than 50% of commercial/industrial building space could use daylighting to cut energy usage and costs, but does not. This may be due to a lack of effective daylighting panels that can control lighting and heat buildup while satisfying the needs of a good roof deck assembly.
 Gumpert (U.S. Pat. No. 5,323,576) has a skylight suited to standing seam roofing installations, but it has no attenuating or control capability. Christopher (U.S. Pat. No. 5,617,682) and Curshod (U.S. Pat. No. 5,204,777) have light attenuators, but lack an effective means for dissipating heat buildup in the panel and do not have any significant means for assembling their panels into commercial roofing. Dittmer (U.S. Pat. No. 5,062,247) has a passive heat dissipation system for his panel, but lacks an active daylighting control system.
 Many commercial heating and cooling systems have poor efficiency as they work using air source heat pumps having a heating coefficient of performance of 2.2-2.8 and a cooling EER as low as 12.
 One of the most successful innovations in the HVAC field has been the development and use of ground water heat pumps. Ground water heat pumps can achieve a heating coefficient of performance of 4.5 and a cooling EER of 20. Open loop systems require the cost of wells and an adequate water supply rate. The water supply need has limited application in commercial/industrial structures and in areas where regulations restrict the use of wells. Closed loop geothermal systems have costs associated with laying tubing in the ground and often lack the efficiency of open loop systems. The use of glycols/chemicals in these systems represents a hazard to the integrity of the ground water resource.
 Many integral solar panels built into a roof structure in the prior art have been designed from the standpoint of using glass glazing on a wooden roof structure. Provisions for air or water circulation to the panels have been limited and integration into a complete energy management system has been limited. The use of wood and the residential construction methods do not closely match the needs of commercial and light industrial structures. The goal of providing direct heat requires large amounts of storage, high collection temperatures and often duplication of heating plants to serve as backup. Stout, (U.S. Pat. No. 4,244,355), is typical of this group of prior art.
 Wilhelm, (U.S. Pat. No. 4,327,707), utilized a low cost film based collector for retrofit to existing roofs. Though efficient, the invention does not address the distribution system for feeding working fluid to panels through the roof deck. The fundamental drawback of nearly all the prior solar collector art is the lack of a fluid circulation system that moves working fluid to the exterior of the roof deck without sacrificing leak integrity of the roof. Hartman, (U.S. Pat. No. 5,134,827), utilized a good fluid transfer system with a low cost film collector, but did not provide a very good connection to the building frame. A second limitation of most prior solar art is the use of unusual construction methods that do not fit the general skills, training and work habits common in the trades.
 In general, the owner or user sees the roof of a typical commercial or industrial building as a liability rather than an advantage.
 Accordingly, several objects and advantages of the present invention are:
 a) to provide a building construction system that is leak tight, easily assembled, allows a good structural connection to the building frame, and accommodates thermal expansion of the roof deck.
 b) to provide a connection system for roofing that does not require perforation of the roof deck, and exhibits high insulation performance without the use of foam based insulation that contributes to the hazard in a fire situation.
 c) to provide a fire safety system that allows for release of heat from the interior to prevent building flashover. To improve the ease of location of a fire and fire fighting efforts made from outside the building. To further provide a fire safety system that improves building resistance to an external fire, particularly a forest fire.
 d) to provide a roofing system that has an attractive interior appearance, including the easy installation of daylighting. To include integral fluid transfer and heat transfer into a roofing system that can be easily assembled and work in conjunction with efficient heat pump equipment to provide demand side management energy savings.
 e) to provide modern control systems for heating, cooling, and daylighting of common commercial and light industrial buildings. Further, to provide an HVAC system that utilizes conventional components and relatively conventional building construction techniques to utilize renewable energy sources in a demand side management system for control of energy usage.
 Further objects and advantages will become apparent from a consideration of the description and drawings that follow.
FIG. 1A is a cross section of an angle I beam showing assembly of an air plenum.
FIG. 1B is a cross section of an angle I beam using alternate materials
FIG. 2A shows a cross brace used in panel construction
FIG. 2B shows an alternate cross brace and rigid connector used in panel construction
FIG. 3A is an exploded assembly drawing of basic insulating and solar panel structure.
FIG. 3B is an assembly drawing for an alternate panel assembly system
FIG. 4 is an isometric drawing of a light industrial building.
FIG. 5 is a cross section through the joint between two solar panels.
FIG. 6 is a detail drawing of collector and insulating films.
FIG. 7 is a partial cross section through completed panel attachments to the building frame.
FIG. 8 is an isometric assembly drawing of structural attachment components.
FIG. 9 is a cross section through an insulating panel joint in the area of a fire.
FIG. 10 is an exploded assembly drawing of an air distribution assembly.
FIG. 11 is a structural and hvac assembly drawing in area of a girder.
FIG. 12 is a cross section showing assembly of an outer joint between panels.
FIG. 13 is a sequential assembly diagram of the joint between panels.
FIG. 14 is an exploded assembly drawing of daylighting panels.
FIG. 15 shows a louver drive mechanism and a four angle I beam in a daylighting panel.
FIG. 16 is an interior elevation of a commercial building with daylighting and solar collection.
FIG. 17 is a cross section through a daylighting panel joint to a solar panel.
FIG. 18 is a plan view of a commercial building site.
FIG. 19 is a block diagram of basic daylighting controls.
FIG. 20 is a process and instrument drawing of a demand side management system.
 The basic invention is a structural beam for replacing purlins, with a web portion, flanges roughly perpendicular to the web and angles emerging from the web near the flanges. The new beam serves as the frame for improved insulating, solar, and daylighting panels within a demand side management energy savings system for buildings. An alternate embodiment is a building fire safety system comprising a heat sensitive connector system positioned between building panels, and a connector displacement device. An additional embodiment is a clamping system using a relatively rigid connector, a clamped component, fasteners, and a housing with a roughly dovetail shaped channel.
FIGS. 1A and 1B depict a preferred embodiment of the invention. In FIG. 1A, a structural angle I beam 31 is assembled to a plenum cover 48 to form an air plenum 50. An alternate beam construction is shown in FIG. 1B. The new beams provide easily constructed modular panels and buildings having integral air distribution, heat exchange capabilities, and attachment surfaces.
 Beam 31 has a web 37 ending in an upper flange 32 and a lower flange 42 that are both roughly perpendicular to the web. An upper angle 36 emerges from web 37 forming an acute angle to the portion of the web closest to flange 32. Angle 36, flange 32 and web 37 enclose an upper dovetail channel 41. Similarly, a lower angle 46 emerges from web 37 forming an acute angle to the portion of the web closest to the lower flange. Angle 46, lower flange 42 and web 37 enclose a lower dovetail channel 51.
 Flange 32 can end in an upper bulb 33. Channel 41 contains an exterior seal surface 34 and an exterior lock surface 35. The upper bulb, seal surface 34 and lock surface 35 assist in weather-stripping and mechanical integrity (FIGS. 4,5). Flange 42 can end in a lower bulb 43. Channel 51 contains an interior connector surface 44 and an interior shelf surface 45. Bulb 43, surface 44, and surface 45 assist in the securing of panels to the building frame (FIGS. 7,8).
 Plenum cover 48 is formed with a pair of bends 47 to create a pair of snap legs 49. Legs 49 are roughly congruent to surfaces 35 and 44. The snap legs have a small curvature at the end which allows the plenum cover to be easily fastened to beam 31 as illustrated by dash dot line 48 I(FIG. 1). Plenum 50 is formed from cover 48, web 37, angle 36, and angle 46. After assembly, the snap legs securely contact surface 35, and surface 44 to prevent undesirable air losses from the plenum.
 A series of optional manifold holes 38 can be drilled through angle 36 to connect plenum 50 with channel 41. An easily assembled air distribution system 173, (FIG. 20), with capability to pipe air to an entire roof of solar collectors is established through the use of the plenums, holes 38, and channel 41. A series of optional charging holes 39 can be drilled through web 37 to permit fill of panels with low thermal conductivity gases. In FIG. 1A, hole 39 is sealed with an optional aluminum tape 40.
 Angle I beam 31 is preferably produced as an aluminum extrusion for cost and best fire retardant performance. Alternatively, it could be produced as a reinforced composite using a phenolic resin. Composite materials would provide a better thermal break in the building assembly.
 Other alternates could include fabrication of the angle I beam from several materials such as a web composed of engineered lumber or composite that is adhesively bonded to aluminum modules that would include the flanges and angles of the upper and lower sides. Another useful combinations would be fiberglass composite flange modules with a forest product web. This is illustrated in FIG. 1B. Standard heights for the angle I beam would correspond to dimensions of readily available fiberglass insulation.
 The preferred material for cover 48 is thin gauge sheet metal. Cover 48 is ideally field installed within the sequence outlined in FIGS. 11 through 13. One alternative material would be pressure sensitive backed foil-scrim-kraft paper (FSK) laminates.
FIG. 1B illustrates an alternate construction and materials choice for the beam of FIG. 1A. A second angle I beam 200 is illustrated composed of two aluminum flange modules 201A and 201B and a composite web 202. Each of the flange modules consists of a flange 204 giving rise to two spaced apart socket risers 205 which turn to form angle sections 206. Modules 201 form two roughly dovetail shaped channels 207 between the flanges and the angle sections. Within each channel 207 there is a flange surface 208 and a reaction surface 209, roughly opposed to and spaced apart from surface 208.
 Each flange 204 ends in two elongated bulbs 203 that extend above and below the surfaces of the flange. A surface skin or glazing will be attached to the flange only at the bulbs limiting the heat transfer through the system.
 Module 201A is bonded to web 202 using an external adhesive 210 where module 201A is positioned at the building exterior. Module 201B is bonded to web 202 using adhesive 211 where module 201B is positioned at the building interior. Adhesive 210 is preferably a semisolid material at high service temperatures allowing the module some freedom of thermal expansion relative to web 202. Adhesive 211 is preferably a structural thermoset material geared toward effective load transfer to module 201B at a relatively constant building interior temperature.
 Web 202 is preferably a composite consisting of continuous strand mat and fiberglass roving with a phenolic resin matrix. A variety of other matrix materials can be used where fire retardance is not an issue, such as greenhouse assemblies. The thermal conductivity of these materials is on the order of 0.24 W/m K versus a thermal conductivity for steel of about 60 W/m K. A 3.2 mm (0.125″) composite web will have only about 3% of the thermal transfer of a 0.46 mm (0.018″) sidewall of a prior art steel structural insulated panel.
 Beam 200 can also be used with a variety of holes such as those shown in FIGS. 1A, 3A and 3B to distribute flow of process fluid and insulating gases. The air distribution systems shown in FIGS. 1A, 3A, 5, 6 10, 13,15, 17 and 20 can also be used exchangably with beam 200 or any of the other similar beams disclosed throughout the patent.
 A high degree of mechanical strength can be expected from these beams, especially where they will be used to replace purlins in the building construction. The upper dovetail channel can be used as shown here and described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,134,827 to provide both weather-stripping and mechanical connections between prefabricated panels. The lower dovetail channel can be used as shown in FIGS. 7,8,11, and 12 to provide a structural connection between panels and building frame members.
 It is not desired to limit applicability of beams 31 and 200 to a specific structural assembly system. The use of angle I beam 31, beam 200 and a four angle I beam 121 (FIGS. 14-17) to produce roof deck panels represents a single field of use of this embodiment described in this specification. Angle I beam 31, beam 200, four angle I beam 121 and the variations described above have a variety of other structural applications:
 A few of these would be girders supporting walls, roof decks, floors, or bridges. The dovetail shaped channels afford locations for attachment of a variety of cross bracing, diagonal bracing (FIGS. 2B, 3B) and/or bridging (not shown). normally associated with girder and open truss work construction.
 Other potential applications of the present invention would be structural framing for transport vehicles and support framing for signage. A unique application for the present invention is as stringer in a lightweight, skew resistant material handling pallet, (not shown). Other applications will emerge from examination of the balance of the specification and claims.
FIGS. 2A through 6 illustrate an alternate embodiment of the invention in the form of functional building panels to provide demand side management (DSM) energy savings for building users and an improved means for assembling structures. An insulating panel 58 and a solar panel 59 are used in the construction of a commercial, agricultural or light industrial building 71 with a low cost, highly insulating, integral solar collector roof
FIG. 2A shows a cross brace 52 used in the insulating panel, the solar panel, and a daylighting panel 141 shown later. A central strut 54 is bent into attachment tabs 53A and 53B on either end. The tabs carry bonding surfaces 55A and 55B. Brace 52 is preferably a rectangular aluminum extrusion.
 An alternate shape for brace 52 is shown in FIG. 2B. A clamping system 240 for assembling panel frames is shown in FIGS. 2B and 3B. Cross brace 214 is a bar shaped profile with rounded sides with a ventral longitudinal slot 218. Brace 214 is shaped at both ends with a gullet 216 and a flat 217 cut into the dorsal surface. The length of the braces are adjusted to fit between the beams used as the side frame members of building panels (FIGS. 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 14, 15, 16, and 17).
 Also shown in FIG. 2B is a relatively rigid connector 224. Connector 224 has a lever portion 225 and a tip portion 226 at an angle to the lever portion. Both portions have a width slightly less than the width of slot 218. A tee portion 228 is the final part of connector 224 and has two through holes 229A and 229B. An optional tapped hole 230 can be cut at the center of the connector. A convex surface 227 between the two portions serves as a pivot point which rests against slot 218 as the connector is being actuated, arrow 235 FIG. 3B.
FIG. 3B shows cross brace 214B assembled to beam 200A in the lower part of the figure and cross brace 214A in the process of being assembled in the upper part of the figure. In both cases, gullet 216 fits tightly and conforms to bulb 203, while flat 217 fits tightly and conforms to surface 208 as the braces are first put in place and then secured.
 Brace 214B has tee portion 228 of connector 224B aligned and fitting into a transverse slot 219 in the brace. Tip portion 226 is pushing against reaction surface 209 and clamping the shaped end of brace 214B against flange surface 208 of the lower channel of beam 200A. Adhesive 220 is forming an adhesive bond between gullet 216, flat 217 and flange surface 208 while the assembly is secured by optional screw 238 which has been moved through hole 221 and threaded into hole 230.
 Adhesive 220 can be optionally placed between connector 224B and slot 218 as shown in the upper part of FIG. 3B to provide additional anchorage. Brace 214B is adhesively and mechanically bound into the lower dovetail shaped channel. Allignment and pull out resistance are enhanced by the registration of gullet 216 to bulb 203.
 Diagonal braces 64C and 64D are attached to connector 224B using rivets 237 which pass through holes 229 and are connected to other joints (not shown) on the opposite side of the panel. Either or both sides of tee portion 228 can be omitted as shown by dashed cut lines 231A and 231B (FIG. 2B) to accommodate end bracing in a panel or situations where diagonal bracing is not called for.
 In the upper part of FIG. 3B, brace 214A is in process of assembly using adhesive 220 to secure connector 224A into slot 218. Surface 227 is riding against slot 218 while tip portion 226 is moving toward contact with reaction surface 209 of the upper dovetail shaped channel. A beam segment 236 can be used as a load transfer member between the two faces of the panel towards the center. Segment 236 has flanges with a width less than that of slot 218 and is adhesively bonded to braces 214A and 214B with adhesive 220 in the final assembly.
 Segment 236 is preferably made from a composite material for insulating considerations. Brace 214 is preferably an aluminum extrusion to match the coefficient of expansion of an aluminum panel skin. Alternatively it can be formed from rolled steel, high temperature composites or ceramics as the application requires. If it is desired to form dovetail channels 41, 51 or 207 from composite materials, clamping system 240 affords a means to attach many types of materials in many different types of applications without direct use of fasteners passing through the joint.
 A basic structure for both the insulating panel and the solar panel is shown in FIG. 3A. Differences between the two types of panels are illustrated by comparison of FIGS. 5 and 9. Beam 31A and beam 31B form the side rails for the panels. A series of cross braces 52A, 52B, 52C etc. attach to upper flanges 32 and lower flanges 42 at a series of attachment points such as 68A, 68B etc. to create a box beam frame (not numbered) for the basic panel.
 Overlap areas 69A, and 69B show locations where a diagonal brace 64A is affixed to cross braces 52A and 52C to provide stiffening. A series of diagonal braces 64A, 64B etc. is attached at the upper part of the panels and series of diagonal braces represented by brace 64C is attached at the lower parts.
 The preferred method of attachment for the cross braces and the diagonal braces is adhesive bonding. Alternate methods of attachment are ultrasonic welding, and fasteners such as rivets. The diagonal braces are preferably formed from aluminum extrusions.
 An insulation batt 62 is inserted after assembly of the frame between the beams, the cross and diagonal braces. An insulation facing 63 is optionally laminated to batt 62. Facing 63 is preferably a foil-scrim-kraft laminate which aids in producing a radiant barrier at the exterior of the panel. After completion of assembly of either panel 58 or 59, air is removed from by means of an air flow 81 through hole 39. The air is replaced by a flow of Argon gas 66.
 The preferred material for batt 62 is fiberglass. Alternative materials are fire resistant treated waste paper or melamine foam. These and other fire resistant materials offer significant safety advantages over many of the foam materials presently used in building panels, and flat roofing.
 After insertion of batt 62, a tube support 65A is placed through the insulation between a through hole 56 that has been pre-drilled and countersunk in each of the cross braces that the tube support spans. A screw 57 is placed in each of the holes and threaded into the tube support to secure it. A series of tube supports such as 65B connect the upper and lower cross braces in the structure and serve to distribute the exterior load from an outer skin 60 to an inside skin 61. The tube supports are preferably made of a fiberglass composite, alternative materials would be ceramics and wood.
 An end cap 67 is inserted into the end of the panel to secure and brace the end. The end cap consists of an end plate 67A bent around into two end tabs 67B. Tabs 67B have a height slightly less than the spacing between braces 52A and 52B. Plate 67A has a height equal to the spacing between braces 52A and 52B. Cap 67 is preferably formed from aluminum sheet and perimeter welded to braces 52A, 52B, and beams 31A, 31B.
 Both the insulating panel and the solar panel are constructed with outer skin 60 and inside skin 61 bonded to the cross braces and the angle I beams. To decrease thermal conductance through the panel an optional glass tape 70 can be used between the panel frame and the skins. Tape 70 is preferably a woven glass tape coated on both sides with a high temperature pressure sensitive adhesive.
 Inside skin 61 is roll formed into a left bottom edge 61A and a right bottom edge 61B with a skin interior surface 61C being left flat for bonding to the lower frame members. As shown in FIG. 5, edge 61A and edge 61B are ultimately formed around lower bulbs 43A and 43B. Inside skin 61 can be bonded to the lower flanges, the lower bulbs and the cross braces which it contacts using an adhesive 70A.
 Similarly, outside skin 60 is roll formed into a left flap 60A and a right flap 60B. The left and right flaps do not extend beyond bend line 60D, where an end flap 60F is located. An end gasket 60E is adhesively bonded to the end flap. An outer painted surface 60C ultimately serves as the anchorage for a capillary film 80. A preferred method of bonding the outside skin to the upper flanges and the cross braces is adhesive 70A. Alternatively optional glass tape 70 can be used.
 At a later point in panel assembly, the left and right flaps are formed around the upper bulbs as shown in FIG. 5. The end flap is then bent down at line 60D and adhesively bonded to end plate 67A, (not shown after bending). At that point, the withdrawal of air flow 81 from the panel can be utilized to create a partial vacuum which serves to clamp the adhesively bonded skins until cure is complete.
 The estimated weight of the panels is 34 kg for a 6.4 m panel mounted on 0.5 m centers, (75 lb. for a 20 foot by 18″ wide unit with a thickness of 3.5″). This allows load reduction in the completed deck, during transport and in construction. The basic cost elements of the panels; the skin layers, the insulation batt, and beams are similar to cost elements in conventional building construction. This yields improved performance in energy savings at similar cost. Assembly costs are expected to be lower.
FIG. 4 shows the present invention utilized in the construction of a light industrial building 71 with a salt box shape. A number of girders 72 support a south roof deck 73 and a north roof deck 74. The roof decks are composed of a number of insulating panels 58 and solar panels 59. End gasket 60E is shown between two panels weather-stripping the joint between them. The drawing also shows a fire 97 which has broken out in the building and is emerging from the roof deck with an evolution of smoke.
FIG. 5 is a cross section through the roof showing the assembly and utilization of solar panels 59A and 59B in roof deck 73. The panels are mounted to girder 72A and spaced apart by the width of an interior strip 89A. There is a left plenum cover 48A secured to solar panel 59A to create a left air plenum 50A and a right plenum cover 48B secured to solar panel 59B to create right air plenum 50B. A connection boot 79A and a connection boot 79B are enclosed by plenums 50A and 50B respectively. A branch tee 78 enters boot 79A, boot 79B, and a T beam supply duct 77.
 The lower part of the drawing shows how inside skin 61D and inside skin 61E are bent around lower bulb 43A and lower bulb 43B in fabricating the panels. Similarly, the outer skins are formed around the upper bulbs and bonded to the angle I beams with adhesive 70A. This is also shown in FIG. 6, where outer skin 60J is formed around upper bulb 33A. Optionally, outer skin 60J can be ultrasonically welded to exterior seal surface 34A.
 Two capillary films 80A and 80B are formed around the upper bulbs of the solar panels and enter the upper dovetail channels. An insulating film 83 is bonded to film 80B and forms the exterior surface of the panel. A similar insulating film, (not numbered), is bonded to film 80A. Some shading for batts 62A and 62B has been omitted to allow room for numbering in the figure.
 The exterior joint between solar panels 59A and 59B is provided according to U.S. Pat. No. 5,134,827 to Hartman: A flexible connector 85A is shown in it's unactuated, (solid line) and actuated, (dash-dot line) positions. The flexible connector engages an exterior bracket 86 with a pair of grippers 85D which snap over a connector bulb 88 as the joint is assembled. Some preferred materials for connector 85A are polysulfone polymers or polyetherketone polymers. A variety of other materials can satisfy the functional requirements for the flexible connectors, (see also FIG. 9).
 In the actuated position, a pair of tips 85E and a pair of ridges 86E on bracket 86 engage the interior surfaces of upper dovetail channels 41. Panels 59A and 59B are locked together and a weather-strip seal is formed as a foam strip 84A is pushed against the upper bulbs. An adhesive film 87 secures strip 84A to bracket 86. During installation, a number of small chains 99 are hooked between the flexible connectors and the interior strips, (FIG. 9).
FIG. 6 shows details of the films on the solar panels. Capillary film 80C is shown as a sheet with a number of molded ribs 80E on it's ventral surface. The ribs are thermally bonded to outer paint surface 60C in the final assembly. Insulating film 83A consists of a series of semicircular cells that are closed down at the ends to produce stagnant air pockets. In the assembly process, capillary film 80C is bent around upper bulb 33A following arrow 80D, and adhesively or thermally bonded to exterior seal surface 34A. Insulating film 83A is bonded to capillary film 80C at the troughs between pockets and the ends.
 An alternate capillary film 90 is a method of addressing the deformation of ribs 80E as capillary film 80C is bent around bulb 33A. Film 90 consists of a plastic sheet 90A with a grid of risers 90B on its ventral surface for bonding to outer paint surface 60C. Risers 90B can be printed onto plastic sheet 90A using a high build polymer resin applied with stencil printing equipment. Alternatively, they can be thermoformed into plastic sheet 90A or produced using a variety of other techniques. A variety of other riser shapes can be used with this system. It is not desired to limit the invention to the squares shown.
 The capillary films and insulating films are preferably produced from polyvinylidene fluoride,(PVDF), with outer painted surface 60C produced from a commercially available PVDF based paint. Alternates would include polyurethane films bonded to a polyurethane paint system, acrylics or polycarbonates.
FIGS. 5 and 6 demonstrate the operation of solar panels 59 installed in roof deck 73 for thermal collection purposes. They also illustrate the utilization of the panels in general heat exchange applications such as night sky cooling.
 In a heating mode of operation: A cold air flow 81A is shown passing through the T beam supply duct and splitting into an air flow 81B which enters branch tee 78. Air flow 81B splits again into air flow 81C, which enters boot 79A, boot 79B, plenum 50A, and plenum 50B.
 An air flow 81D passes through manifold holes 38A in the upper angle of panel 59A and subsequently through capillary film 80A at the exterior of the structure. It is warmed by sunlight 76 impinging on the insulating film and becomes a warm air flow 82A moving through the capillary film.
 Similarly, an air flow 81E passes through manifold holes 38B in the upper angle of panel 59B and subsequently through film 80B. It becomes a warm air flow 82B moving through the capillary film. Both flow 82A and flow 82B return to the next panel joints, which return air to the heating system.
 The films, ribs, semicircular cells, and risers in the drawings are shown enlarged for the purpose of illustration. It is desirable to have a thin gap between the capillary film and the outer paint surface to increase air velocity and the heat transfer rate.
 The use of Argon gas 66 generates a 40-45% insulation improvement over conventional fiberglass/air systems. Estimated domestic energy savings from insulation improvements are estimated at 98 petrajoules, (93 trillion Btu), in year 12 and 171 petrajoules, (162 trillion Btu), in year 20. (Based on growth to 15% of non-residential construction in year 20).
 A mathematical model developed for the solar panels over the heating season in Boston, Massachusetts gave the following results: Collector efficiencies ranged from 29% in December to 49% in April. The collectors provided between 107% and 442% of the monthly heat demand of the HVAC system. For a 465 m2, (5000 square foot), building, heating savings averaged $133/month compared to a typical air source heat pump in a conventional metal building.
 In a cooling mode of operation: The radiant heat losses to the night sky can be used to cool a thermal reservoir and/or serve as the heat sink to a heat pump (see also FIG. 20). The flow arrows in the diagram remain the same with the exception that air flow 81A becomes a warm air flow that is cooled by radiant and convective heat losses to become cool air flows 82A and 82B returning to the HVAC system. In regions where building cooling is the primary need, the insulating film can be omitted in the panel assembly as it would inhibit heat losses from the solar collector panels.
FIG. 5 also shows the unactuated state of a fire safety system 75 discussed in detail in FIG. 9.
FIGS. 7 and 8 show an alternate embodiment of the invention in the form of a relatively rigid connector system 118 for structurally securing components. FIG. 7 illustrates the assembled connector system. FIG. 8 is a pre-assembly isometric of the components. Generic solar or insulating panels in the assembly are represented by beams 31C and 31D that have inside skins 61F and 61G formed around lower bulbs 43C and 43D. These are attached to girder 72B which consists of a beam flange 72C and a beam web 72D.
 A relatively rigid connector 91 has a major arch portion 91F that continues into two minor arched portions 91B and ends at two rounded tip portions 91C. Connector 91 is shown with a length approximately equal to the width of girder 72B. A structural bracket 92 works with connector 91 to clamp and secure beams 31C and 31D to each other and to flange 72C.
 A pair of punched apertures 91D in the rigid connector and a pair of bracket holes 92A in the structural bracket allow passage of carriage bolts 93 and 93A through the connector system. A pair of elongated holes 72E and 72F in beam flange 72C serve as attachment points to the building frame. The roof deck is assembled to the girders using a flat washer 95, a lock washer 96 and a nut 94 that is tightened from the inside of the building to slightly flatten unactuated shape 91A (FIG. 8) to the actuated shape of rigid connector 91 seen in FIG. 7.
 A lower bracket surface 92D is flush against beam flange 72C in the completed assembly. An upper bracket surface 92B serves to resist and deflect movement of the minor arched portions during actuation to lock tip portions 91C into engagment with lower angles 46C and 46D. In FIG. 7, a pair of bracket ends 92C engage lower bulbs 43C and 43D to secure the panels, resist lateral movement, and wind uplift of the roof deck. Major arch portion 91F in the actuated shape maintains about 60% or more of the height that it had above upper bracket surface 92B in its unactuated shape. In the relatively rigid connector system, the width change on actuation from tip portion 92C at the right to tip portion 92C at the left does not change to the extent that flexible connector 85A does, (reference FIG. 5 and U.S. Pat. No. 5,134,827).
 If it is desired to allow for some movement of roof deck to allow for thermal expansion perpendicular to the plane of FIG. 7, a very small clearance between the actuated position of the assembled rigid connector system and the lower dovetail channels can be designed into the assembly.
 The preferred materials for the rigid connectors and the structural bracket are aluminum extrusions where the angle I beams are composed of aluminum. Other suitable materials would be steel, spring steel and reinforced composites. The most common material used in the girders is steel. Holes 72E, and 72F can be cut into existing or new beams using a portable hydraulic punch system, (not shown).
 An alternate construction of the present invention would use both an elongated rigid connector 91A and an elongated structural bracket 92 containing four sets of holes for the carriage bolts. Two carriage bolts would engage beam flange 72C and two carriage bolts would serve to secure the connection between the panels outside the width of the beam.
 The combination of using the angle I beams to replace purlins and the relatively rigid connector system 118 allows for material cost savings in the construction of a commercial or light industrial building. Labor cost reductions obtained through use of the system are discussed with FIGS. 11 to 14.
 The flexible connectors, (FIG. 5), allow for expansion and contraction of the roof deck in a direction perpendicular to the angle I beams. The rigid connector system can allow for expansion and contraction parallel to the angle I beams. Problems with expansion and contraction of roof decks are one of the key causes of leakage and complaints for prior art roofing systems.
 It is not desired to limit the relatively rigid connector system to the specific application described here. The relatively rigid connector system can be used to clamp a variety of components in housings, as a removable assembly (as shown here) or used in conjunction with adhesives (not shown) to form permanent assemblies.
 This capability is not strictly limited to dovetail shaped channels as the clamping action entails tip portion 91B working against interior connector surface 44 (FIG. 1) to maintain a normal force between bracket 92 and interior shelf surface 45. The basic action of connector system 118 involves the tip portion of the rigid connector working against one surface of a housing opposed to a second surface that is roughly congruent to the mating surface of the clamped component.
 An alternate embodiment of the invention relating to a building fire safety system 75 is shown in FIGS. 4, 5 and 9. The central feature of the system revolves around flexible connector 85A being produced from a thermoplastic material that will deform and release in the extreme temperatures of a fire but not during normal operation.
FIG. 5 shows the fire safety system assembled and in place before a fire. FIG. 9 shows the altered structure and action of the fire safety system during fire 97 shown in FIG. 4. FIG. 5 depicts a connection between two solar panels, while FIG. 9 depicts a connection between insulating panels 58C and 58D. The fire safety system can be utilized with a variety of different types of panels.
 As described earlier, flexible connector 85A is attached to exterior bracket 86 by means of a pair of grippers 85D which engage connector bulb 88.
 Wavy arrows indicate heat 98 rising from the interior to actuate the fire safety system As shown in FIG. 9, the heat has caused a deformation of the shape of interior strip 89A to the shape of interior strip 89B. The concave edges shown in FIG. 5 have melted and released the interior strip from the space between the lower bulbs. Strip 89B is falling under the influence of gravity, vector 101, and has opened a space between panels 58C and 58D. The heat is propagating between the angle I beams and softened/deformed flexible connector 85B. Strip 89B is shown pulling connector 85B downward by means of chain 99.
 In FIG. 9, grippers 85C have released from connector bulb 88B. Heat impinging on the aluminum exterior bracket has melted and shrunk a foam strip similar in shape to 84A to the shape of foam strip 84B, releasing the exterior weather-strip seal. The configuration of system 75 can be arranged to hold the frangible components of the roof deck captive to prevent debris falling from the roof during the fire.
FIG. 9 occurs later in the fire relative to the time frame of FIG. 4, where flame and smoke have appeared on the roof in the area of the fire. In FIG. 9, fire fighters (not shown) have arrived, identified the area of the fire, and are spraying the fire with water 100. The water has run down the roof deck, is moving through the space between panels 58C, and 58D, and is entering the building in the area of the fire. As the panels are mounted horizontally across the roof deck, the area corresponding to heat release is the same area that will receive the bulk of the water applied by fire fighters.
 In a conventional metal building, particularly a sloped roof ‘systems’ building, fire fighters ordinarily have a difficult time locating a fire. They often have to cut a hole in the roof to put water on the fire. Very often, the interior of the building has already flashed over because heat and smoke are contained by the metal roofing system and fiberglass insulation. Low cost fiberglass insulation can be a source of significant smoke if binder content is high.
 Fire safety system 75 provides means to detect the location of a fire, to release heat/smoke from the building and to aid fire fighting while reducing personal hazard to the occupants and the fire fighters.
FIG. 10 details an air distribution assembly 145 consisting of branch tee 78A, connection boot 79C, plenum covers 48C and 48H, a supply duct 77S, a return duct 77R, a duct aperture 77C and a tee aperture 102A. FIGS. 11 through 13 describe the sequence of assembly of a typical embodiment of the invention, a commercial building 148 with daylighting, (also described in FIGS. 14-20).
 The branch tee has a main portion 78B and a branch portion 78C which distributes flow to two connection boots, (only one is shown in FIG. 10). It is preferably formed from sheet metal and extends down to two snap tabs 78D which secure the branch tee in supply duct 77S by insertion into duct aperture 77C.
 The supply duct consists of an outer duct section 77A and an inner duct section 77B which is secured to girder 72G. The two duct sections are shown assembled using conventional sheet metal snap seams. Duct aperture 77C lies outside the edge of the flange of girder 72G. Tee 78A would be inserted into aperture 77C after the structural connection between panels was established, (see FIGS. 7-8 and 11-13). The structural connections to the beam and the panels themselves have been omitted in this drawing to clearly illustrate the air distribution assembly.
 Return duct 77R is mounted on the far side of girder 72G and carries a perforation for a duct aperture 77D which has not been opened by the installer. At the next joint between panels, the next duct aperture in return duct 77R will be used to pipe return air back to the HVAC system.
 As tee 78A is placed into duct aperture 77C, branch portion 78C is pushed into tee aperture 102A and the corresponding tee aperture in the connection boot nearest the observer, (not shown in order to provide a clear illustration). Dashed aperture 102B indicates the position of the tee aperture if the viewed air distribution assembly was being used for return air.
 Plenum covers 48C and 48H are placed over the upper and lower angles of appropriate panels, (not shown) and contain/seal the ends of boot 79C. In the completed assembly 145, supply air from duct 77S will pass through the branch tee into a lumen 103 at the interior of the connection boot and into the corresponding air plenum as illustrated in FIG. 5.
 Tee 78A is preferably made from sheet metal. Alternate materials would be rubber, blow molded or injection molded thermoplastics. Boot 79C is preferably made from rubber, an alternate material would be a thermoplastic elastomer extrusion. Supply duct 77S and return duct 77R are preferably made from sheet metal. Acceptable alternate materials would be fire retardant composites.
 The sequence of assembly for the air distribution assembly would be to install the connection boots and plenum covers after the structural connections shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. The supply and return ducts as well as the branch tees could be installed before the actions shown in FIGS. 12 and 13.
 An alternate configuration 145′ of assembly 145 would employ an elbow 78L to utilize and connect aperture 102B to aperture 77D. At each panel joint, a second elbow, (not shown) would connect duct aperture 77C with the corresponding tee aperture closes the observer, (not shown). The alternate configuration would produce air flows up the roof deck through the capillary films in all the solar panels. Each panel joint would contain a supply and a return connection going to the supply and return ducts.
FIGS. 11 through 13 show the installation sequence common to the radially expandable edge connector system of U.S. Pat. No. 5,134,827 and the rigid connector system described in FIGS. 7 and 8. FIGS. 11 through 13 also introduce parts used in FIGS. 14 through 20. They show a structure without the fire safety features of FIGS. 5 and 9 and an I beam girder 108 instead of tee beam girder 72 shown earlier. The figures demonstrate the general applicability of the angle I beam based panels and the air distribution system to a variety of connector types and building frames.
FIG. 11 looks down the roof slope toward two solar panels 59C and 59D that have been assembled earlier. The next panel 59E that will run across girder 108 has not as yet been placed. Structural bracket 92F is first placed on girder 108 followed by rigid connector 91E and carriage bolts 93B and 93C. As panel 59E is placed across girder 108, the structural bracket serves to establish proper spacing on the roof as bracket sides 92E, (FIG. 8), butt against the lower bulbs of solar panels 59C, 59D, and 59E, (FIG. 12).
 As panels 59C and 59D are pushed toward one another, arrows 104, end gasket 60E forms a seal between the panels. The rigid connector is then actuated by tightening bolts 93B and 93C to establish the connection between the panels and the building frame.
 The weather-strip/outside connection can then be assembled by first sliding exterior bracket 109B through the space between upper angles 36E and 36D into upper dovetail channel 41B. Exterior bracket 109B is then rotated, arrow 110, into position to span channels 41A and 41B.
 Covers 48E and 48F are then installed. Bracket 109B has an exterior bracket seal 109A and a pair of screw ledges 109C. A flex connector 111 is then assembled to bracket 109B using a series of self tapping screws 112 driven by a nut driver extension 113 and a portable drill 116. On completion of the joint according to U.S. Pat. No. 5,134,827, seal 109A is pushed against upper bulbs 33E and 33D to weather-strip the joint. Final steps in the joint assembly are placement of an insulation batt 115 into the space between the panels and locking an inside strip 114 into place as the interior facing of the joint.
 At a later point in the building assembly, duct sections 77E and 77F can be attached to girder 108 by means of bolts 107. Dashed duct section 77G is shown before (dashed) and after (solid) it has been snapped onto duct section 77F. A decorative duct cover 105 is snapped arrow 106, over the supply/return ducts and beam 108 to provide an interior surface in the completed building.
 Brackets 109B, and 109D are preferably formed from the same materials as exterior bracket 86. Flex connectors 111 and 111A are preferably formed as flexible composites produced using resins such as the newer thermoset urethanes produced by several manufacturers. Alternative materials would include fairly rigid thermoplastic elastomers or filled thermoplastic extrusions.
 A conventional metal building is assembled in a series of passes across the roof deck. Some of these are: 1) attachment of purlins, 2) insulation rollout, 3) insulation stapling, 4) attachment of corrugated sheets, 5) sealing of standing seam or corrugated overlap joint, and 6) perimeter sealing. The present invention appears to be capable of assembly in one or perhaps two passes across the roof deck, allowing for considerable labor savings and profit improvement for the contractor. Because most of the work can be done from a lift platform inside the building, further improvements in crew safety and productivity can be expected compared to conventional operations conducted from outside the roof deck.
FIGS. 14 through 18 depict an alternate embodiment of the invention in the form of a daylighting panel 141 installed in commercial building 148. Panel 141 is assembled from four angle I beams 121 and 121A as shown in FIG. 14. A series of cross braces 52D, 52E, 52F, etc is used to assemble the panel frame in the same way that panels were assembled in FIG. 3A. Brace 52F is shown in FIG. 15 but omitted from FIG. 14.
 Beam 121 has an outside flange 122 and an inside flange 137 connected by a central web 127. A connector angle 124 and a bracket angle 125 branch off the central web near the outside flange. A connector angle 134 and a bracket angle 135 branch off the central web near the inside flange. A series of louvers 131 are suspended between a pair of pivot guides 138 and 138A when the daylighting panel is installed in a commercial roof deck 142.
 Periodic cooling holes 128 and 128A, (FIG. 17), are drilled through central web 127. The daylighting panels are fitted with plenum covers 48G, and 48H which fit over connector angles 124 and 134 to form plenums such 50C, and 50G. These plenums are fed by the air distribution assembly of FIGS. 5 and 10.
 Louvers 131 each have an extruded shape consisting of an upper tube 131A, a reflective face 131B and a lower tube 131C. In the area of the pivot guides, face 131B is removed to form posts out of the tubes 131A and 131B. As seen in FIG. 15, guide 138 is a Z shaped extrusion with a pivot face 138C bending through the Z shape into an anchor ledge 126 that locks into the space between angle 125 and flange 122. A series of guide holes 138B serve as the mounting point for the tubes 131A.
 On one side of panel 141, a movable glide 132 is mounted between brace 52F and angle 135 in an inside channel 136. Inside channel 136 is formed by angle 135, web 127 and flange 137. A glide ledge 132D is contained but free to move along axis 140. Glide 132 has a toothed aperture 132B that engages a pinion shaft 129A from a stepper motor drive 129. Lower tubes 131C of the louvers can be positioned by a series of slots 132C cut into the medial portion of glide 132.
 As shown in FIG. 14, the daylighting panel is assembled by taking the frame with installed louvers and louver adjusting system and attaching an outside glazing 120 and an interior glazing 130. An end plate 139 is inserted between the central webs of the four angle I beams and attached to the central webs and the cross braces.
 Glazing 130 is thermoformed to create a left tab 130A and a right tab 130B that extend to an interior bend line 130C. A lower end tab 130D is bent at bend line 130C to cover the assembled end plate 139 and is adhesively bonded to it in the completed panel. Glazing 130 is formed around an inside bulb 133 carried on the inside flange of the four angle I beam as illustrated with interior glazing 130E in FIG. 17.
 Glazing 120 is thermoformed to create a left side tab 120A and a right side tab 120B that extend to a bend line 120C. An end tab 120D is bent at line 120C to cover tab 130D and is adhesively bonded to it in the completed panel. Glazing 120E is formed around the outside bulb (FIG. 17). A preferred material for both glazing 120 and glazing 130 is polycarbonate sheet stock between 1.5 and 8 mm thick. An alternative material is acrylic sheet of similar thickness.
FIG. 16 is an interior elevation of commercial roof deck 142 and commercial building 148. The roof deck contains solar panels such as 59F and 59G as well as daylighting panels such as 141A. Vertical wall 143 can be produced using either masonry construction or metal system methods. Windows and doors can also be included, (not shown). A merchandise display unit 146 is shown on the floor with an interior light sensor 147 mounted to it that can be used as part of the control system, (FIGS. 19-20).
 Alternating air distribution assemblies such as 145S and 145R feed air to the panels and return it to the HVAC system. Duct covers 105A and 105B conceal vertical plenums 144A, 144B and 144C which connect to the air distribution assemblies.
 Plenum 50F in solar panel 59F is formed by cover 48J assembled over the upper angle and the lower angle of the angle I beam. In the assembled construction as shown, insulation batt 115A fills the space between the two panels. Exterior bracket 109D with exterior bracket seal 109G provide the weather strip seal between the panels in the completed joint formed using flex connector 111A and self drilling screw 112A. The interior trim is provided by inside strip 114A.
FIG. 18 is a plan view of commercial building 148 located on a parking lot site 149. An exterior sensor 150A is mounted at the peak of the roof. Two other exterior sensors 150B and 150C are mounted atop light posts in the parking area. Shadow 151 denotes the position of a cloud. The motion of shadow 151 is indicated by arrow 152 and can be tracked by the exterior sensors which feed information to a daylighting control system (FIG. 19).
FIG. 17 shows the operation of the daylighting panels in roof deck 142. A connection between daylighting panel 141A and solar panel 59F is detailed. The same air distribution system that allows for solar collection enables removal of excess heat from the daylighting panels.
 Holes 128 and 128A meter and distribute air flow 81G from the plenum into the interior of the daylighting panel. Air flow 81F through manifold holes 38C in solar panel 59F is heated in the capillary film to become warm air flow 82F.
 Movable glides 132 and 132E are driven by stepper motors 129 to arrive at proper positioning for lighting control. The louvers have a diffusely reflective surface that will scatter light back towards the exterior as they are closed down by moving the angle between the louvers and the four angle I beam away from 90 degrees and toward 180 degrees.
 Ledge 132D is secured by and moves between bracket angle 135 and periodic cross braces such as 52F along axis 140. In simpler and lower cost panels that might be used for greenhouses, stepper motors 129 could be replaced by alternative gearboxes 119, (FIG. 14), to position the louvers manually using a hand crank with a hook (not shown).
 It is anticipated that between one fourth and one eighth of the area of commercial roof deck 142 should have daylighting panels installed to satisfy lighting needs of the commercial building. As the dynamic range of natural light available is quite large, the need for significant light damping by louvers 131 and 131D occurs on brighter days. Heat dissipation can be accomplished through air flows such as 81G through the daylighting panels. This heat capture can be used elsewhere in a DSM energy system.
 During evening hours, louvers 131 can be substantially closed against one another to limit heat transfer by convection. Louvers 131 are preferably produced from foamed, extruded thermoplastics further aiding night insulation. At night, the diffuse reflectance of the louvers will aid in keeping artificial light in the building and cutting costs. Based on the model of a 465 m2, (5000 square foot), building in Boston, monthly daylighting savings from the invention estimated at $240 are obtained over the heating season.
 The present invention affords a practical, easy to use system for incorporating daylighting panels into a roof deck, for dealing with heat buildup and loss, and providing a modem actuator system for daylighting control, (see FIG. 19.) The daylighting panels can also be utilized in a variety of structures that include but are not limited to: greenhouses, solariums, porch additions, and transit stops.
 Periodic cooling holes 128 cut through the web of the angle I beams or the four angle I beams permit internal heat exchange flows through panels. The holes 239 shown in FIG. 3B, cut through the web in the area of the dovetail channels can also be utilized in this manner. It is not desired to limit the applicability of the present invention to only daylighting panels. Flows to the interior of panels from plenums 50 formed from angle I beams can provide heat exchange capability to a variety of applications: These include but are not limited to panels for heat storage tanks (FIG. 20), solar photovoltaic panels, solar thermal panels without Argon insulation, and heated commodity storage tanks, (not shown).
 In cases where heat flow is extreme, flows inside the panels can be combined with flows outside the panels as shown in FIG. 5 and in U.S. Pat. No. 5,134,827. Nothing restricts the use of external heat exchange capability (invention shown in FIGS. 5, 6, 10, 16, 17, 20) in conjuction with internal heat exchange capability (invention shown in FIGS. 2, 10, 16, 17) within the same panel. Such a combination would be particularly useful in panels used in capturing concentrated solar energy; such as those used in solar thermal power plants and high flux concentrating photovoltaics.(not shown)
FIG. 19 illustrates an additional embodiment of the invention in the form of a lighting control system 161. System 161 is represented by a block diagram for control. Operation of daylighting in the commercial building is most efficiently implemented through the use of a modern computerized control system. (Text has been used in the figure to represent a standard block diagram)
 A daylighting plant consisting of daylighting panels 141, stepper motors 129 and motor drivers (not shown) modulates the ambient exterior light, disturbance d, consisting of sunlight 76 and shadow 151. Exterior sensors such as 150A, 150B, and 150C monitor the exterior light level and the speed, direction and frequency of cloud motion at the site. Data from the exterior sensors is fed to a multiple input, multiple output MIMO lighting control and to a comparator module.
 An interior sensor system consists of an array of interior light sensors 147 and signal conditioning and processing elements, (not shown). The total light from the daylighting plant and an electrical lighting plant is averaged by the interior sensor system. The electrical lighting plant consists of luminaires such as 160A, and 160B, lamp power supplies, wiring, and fusing/disconnects, (not shown).
 The projected output of the electrical lighting plant is estimated by an electrical lighting performance model. The performance model will take the output of the MIMO lighting control to the electrical lighting plant and introduce delays due to actuation times and decline in luminaire performance due to bulb efficiency drops to arrive at the present projected output of the electrical lighting plant.
 The projected output of the electrical lighting plant is subtracted from the total interior light detected by the interior sensor system to arrive at a feedback signal for daylighting contribution to the interior lighting. Both the projected output and the feedback signal are subtracted from a setpoint lighting reference r to provide a control error signal to the comparator.
 The comparator module receives an error signal, data from exterior sensors, and data from a solar model. The solar model provides time based information relating to theoretical sunlight intensity, historic cloudiness, and projections for short term exterior light insolation based on up to date weather information. The comparator module provides two outputs to the MIMO lighting control, one representing the daylighting error and another representing an electrical lighting error. A preferred form for the comparator module is a fuzzy logic software system.
 The MIMO lighting control has inputs from the exterior sensors, and the comparator. It has outputs to the electrical lighting plant, the daylighting plant, and the performance model. A preferred form for the MIMO lighting control is an adaptive control system that attempts to minimize electrical lighting plant control action and maximize energy savings through use of a cost function.
 The daylighting control system provides a convenient means to maintain a desired lighting level in a commercial or light industrial building. It allows for a smooth daylighting environment and excellent cost savings when used with high efficiency electrical lighting such as metal halide.
FIG. 20 illustrates a preferred embodiment of the invention in the form of a demand side management, DSM system 180. FIG. 20 is a process and instrument drawing, P&ID, showing the integration of the daylighting, solar and insulating panels as part of the DSM system for conservation of costs and resources in a building 178. The DSM system can be used in both a heating mode of operation and a cooling mode of operation.
 The DSM system has two process loops. An energy exchange loop 181 circulates air through a collector array 59N and a heat transfer jacket 172J on a thermal storage tank 172 by means of a collector blower 171. An hvac loop 182 uses a pump 175 to circulate water through a water source heat pump 176 which provides space heating and cooling for the building.
 The collector blower is preferably a variable speed unit controlled by a speed controller SC171. The speed controller functions to maintain a desired temperature in a process air flow 82N returning from collector array 59N to the suction side of the collector blower. A thermocouple TE82 immersed in process air flow 82N supplies a temperature input to speed controller SC171.
 Thermal storage tank 172 is filled with water 100A which is in contact with heat transfer jacket 172J. Process air flow 82N from the discharge of blower 171 is conditioned by water 100A and becomes supply air flow 81N which is fed to the collector array through a roof deck supply system 173S. In the heating mode of the system, supply air flow 81N is heated by solar insolation 76A.
 Thermal storage tank 172 can be a conventional rolled steel tank with a welded or mechanically attached heat transfer jacket 172J. Alternatively, it can be produced by assembly of modular heat exchange panels (not shown) according to the present invention and/or U.S. Pat. No. 5,134,827.
 A preferred method for building the modular panels would utilize flange 32T, bulbs 33T, slots 33S and holes 38T shown in FIG. 2 and disussed in Operation FIGS. 14 through 18. The modular panels would be fabricated and connected similarly to FIGS. 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, and 10-13 with the exception that the capillary films, insulating films, and connection to the building frame would be omitted. Interior air flow would occur between exterior skin 60 and facing 63, supplied through thermal slots 33S.
 In the cooling mode of the system, supply air flow 81N is cooled by radiation losses to the night sky/convection losses to the ambient air 179. Process air flow 82N returns from the collector array by means of a roof deck return system 173R. Both the roof deck supply system and the roof deck return system contain the mechanical components of air distribution assembly 145 as well as vertical plenums 144 and other duct work necessary to connect the components shown in FIG. 20.
 Water 100A from thermal storage tank 172 or an alternate water source 100B is selected by positioning of a suction three way valve 174 as the feed stream to pump 175. Control of a discharge three way valve 177 is slaved to the positioning of valve 174. When water 100A is the feed to pump 175, valve 177 is positioned to a return water flow 100C. When water flow 100B is the feed to pump 175, valve 177 is positioned to an alternate return water flow 100D
 A rough schematic of water source heat pump 176 has been provided to show the operation of hvac loop 182. It does not include reversing valves and many other detailed components and controls specific to any particular manufacturer of heat pumps of this nature. Heat pump 176 takes a building return air flow 178R, heats or cools it using an air handling coil 176A, and a heat pump blower 176B to produce a building supply air flow 178S.
 A discharge flow 100E of pump 175 passes through one side of a liquid heat exchanger 176H while a refrigerant flow 176R from a compressor 176C passes through the other side of exchanger 176H, and coil 176A. Although the figure shows the water flow through the tube side of exchanger 176H, it is not desired to limit the invention to a particular exchanger piping arrangement. In the heating mode of hvac loop 182, the water is the heat source for heat pump 176. In the cooling mode of the hvac loop, the water is the heat sink for the heat pump.
 The temperature of the building is measured by temperature element TE142 and controlled using temperature indicating controller TIC142. The preferred form of temperature indicating controller TIC142 from a operational cost standpoint is a computer control system. Alternatively, the temperature indicating controller can be a simple thermostat controller.
 The temperature indicating controller can optionally output a data stream (dash dot line) to speed controller SC171. Other optional inputs to the speed controller are a signal from a tank temperature element TE172, an exterior temperature element TE179 and a light sensor AE147 measuring an interior light level 76B. Operation of energy exchange loop 181 can thus be optimized for maximum efficiency of operation and coordination with the demand generated by the hvac loop and lighting control system 161.
 The choice of alternate water source 100B would be made by the design group for the building from a variety of options that include but are not limited to; a ground water source, a closed loop ground circulation system, a natural gas, fuel oil or propane heated water tank, a cooling tower or other evaporative cooler loop, an electrically heated water tank, a process heat recovery loop, a surface water source, a wind driven fluid friction heat source, a water loop heated by a fire, a water loop cooled by a wind system as the prime mover, or a ventilation heat recovery loop.
 DSM system 180 also affords the opportunity to utilize the capability of insulating panels 58 and solar panels 59 to cut building cooling costs through the use of radiation losses to the night sky/convection losses to the ambient air 179. Prior art systems often accomplish this objective through the use of costly and corrosive adsorbent chemicals. Most areas with abundant solar resources require cooling capabilities. Off peak time electrical usage and the capability to add modules to the basic P&ID of FIG. 20 for ice storage are additional advantages of the DSM system.
 My invention provides for a low cost installation and low operating costs by using a single building mechanical system for space heating and cooling that utilizes both renewable and conventional energy sources. Demand side management energy savings from improved insulation, daylighting, space heating, and cooling on the order of 187 petrajoules, (177 trillion Btu), in year 12 and 326 petrajoules, (309 trillion Btu), in year 20 are possible with the system, with similar reduced pollutant releases
 The heat produced by the solar panels and stored in tank 172 could alternately be used in conjunction with commercially available solid state thermal electric generators (not shown) to provide electrical power at the site. This could provide night power for lighting, refrigeration equipment, charging of electric vehicles, and other applications. Another potential use of the heat would be to produce power through the vaporization of a low boiling point working fluid and expansion through a turbine, (not shown) The stack draft generated by the solar panels and air distribution assembly can be the source of a variety of ventilation applications.
 Beyond operating cost savings, the system offers attractive incentives to both the commercial building owner and the building contractor in the form of higher profitability. It affords the users of the building a more pleasant working and shopping environment through the use of daylighting systems.
 The fire safety features of the invention allow for an improved building that resists flashover for a longer period of time by releasing heat from the building. While not mentioned in the specifications, the heat exchange capability of the roof deck and the energy storage system shown in FIG. 20 could be used to resist a nearby forest fire or building fire from spreading to the protected building. The capability to show the location of a fire inside the building and facilitate fire fighting efforts is an important pair of tools in reducing building damage and loss of life in metal building fires.
 By providing a secure structural connection to the building frame and a continuous mechanical joint between panels, the invention distributes the localized stresses that are often seen in conventional metal building roofs. This should reduce the impact of disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes on the building and occupants. The continuous joint and distribution of stress in the assembly should also produce improvements in leak tightness of the building.
 In looking at other potential applications for both the angle I beams and the rigid connector system of the invention, there are a variety of energy savings options in transportation and advantages in disaster preparedness that can be gained. Constraints on the length of the patent and number of drawings have precluded description of numerous advantages from use of the invention in developing countries.
 Thus the scope of the invention should be determined by the claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given.