Sustainability is an easy concept for everyone, not just businesses – who wouldn’t want to be viewed as a good citizen?
However simply saying sustainable and eco and green mean nothing. Aluminium is a widely used metal, it is in everything from cans to the latest vehicle body parts & panels. The aluminium industry however has and is continuing to make a concerted effort to change the way we look at aluminium as a building block.
Did you know?
Over two thirds of all aluminium ever products is still in use today. Aluminium is a durable metal but it is not only its durability which make it a great product but the fact that it can and is easily recyclable – hence its popularity in infrastructure and commercial & domestic uses.
The Aluminium recycling process creates high quality aluminium which loses none of the physical properties of primary aluminium and also uses just 5% of the energy it takes to create primary aluminium. This is why aluminium in generally regarded as the worlds most sustainable building material.
Recycled aluminium is what the European Aluminium Association (EAA) terms an “Energy Bank”. This is because the aluminium recycling process uses only 5% of the energy used to create primary aluminium from bauxite ore(1). The International Aluminium Institute (IAI) estimates that 55% of world aluminium production is powered by renewable hydroelectric power(2). The recycling process creates high quality aluminium which loses none of the physical properties of primary aluminium, meaning that it can be endlessly recycled for use as new products without losing physical quality. therefore with environmental policies continuing to drive demand, it is perhaps unsurprising that the use of aluminium in architecture and construction is growing in popularity.
The life cycle of aluminium products is measured in terms of decades rather than years. As a building material it is durable, requiring little long term maintenance. It is resistant to corrosion and common industrial pollutants giving aluminium products a much longer life cycle even in extreme environmental conditions. The EAA calls aluminium a ‘cradle to cradle’ material because although a particular product may have an end of life, aluminium as a material can be continually recycled and manufactured into new products.
The use of sustainable building materials is only one part of the answer to the environmental issues that affect us all. By using aluminium products you are choosing a material whose production has minimal long term impact to the environment, is sustainable in terms of hundreds of years and endlessly recyclable. Aluminium can rightly be said to be the ultimate building material and the building material of choice for the future.
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