Aluminium, a key material in the circular economy and the fight against climate change
Currently, the construction and building sector considers sustainability and care for the environment as fundamental premises. Architects, designers and other professionals in the field bear these values in mind when carrying out their tasks. Nevertheless, experts in the field warn that efforts must be intensified if a Circular Economy is to be achieved by 2030. This is what “Mejor de Aluminio” tells us in its blog.
Green Building Council España (GBCe), which the “Asociación Española del Aluminio (AEA)” joined in 2016, states that building will only be sustainable if measures such as decarbonisation, comprehensive renovation and rationalisation of construction are urgently implemented. These are lines of action that the AEA supports and the aluminium industry has been working for years, in line with the “Circular Aluminium Action Plan”, presented by European Aluminium, which describes the sector’s strategy to achieve a future with fewer waste and emissions. As construction and architecture are key drivers of the aluminium industry, this is especially important.
“Aluminium is 95% recyclable without any loss of quality and offers durability and strength like no other material”.
“We will continue to contribute in every way we can to spread the word about the need to develop a construction sector that is respectful and committed to the environment and environmental values. In this sense, we are proud to be the standard bearer for a material such as aluminium, which is so durable, with very high effective recycling rates and with the capacity to be recycled an infinite number of times,” explains Gonzalo de Olabarria, the AEA’s secretary general.
The industry’s Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) indicates that aluminium is one of the most recycled materials in the world, with a recovery rate of 95%. Therefore, according to de Olabarria, it is considered a key material for sustainable construction, which should focus on the rehabilitation and use of materials from previous constructions after demolition. In addition, a relevant fact is that currently 75% of all aluminium manufactured since its inception is in use, mainly in elements such as joinery, fences, facades and staircases in the world’s real estate parks.
ADVANTAGES OF ALUMINIUM FOR SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION
Circular material today and always. In the construction sector, the recovery rate of aluminium products can exceed 95%. Moreover, aluminium is recycled without loss of its qualities, and the energy required for the recycling process is minimal, representing only 5% of the energy needed to produce the initial metal. Because this recycling process has always taken place and can continue indefinitely, thanks to the intrinsic value of scrap, aluminium is a truly circular material.
“Achieving the goals of the Circular Economy means further rehabilitating the existing building stock and rationalising new construction”.
High reflective power and thermal conductivity. Aluminium is very suitable for the lighting industry due to this unique property. Aluminium solar collectors and light reflectors can be installed to reduce energy consumption for lighting as well as the need for heating in winter. In addition, aluminium sunscreens are produced which reduce the need for air conditioning in summer. Moreover, aluminium is a good conductor of heat, making it an excellent material for heat exchangers in ventilation systems or solar thermal collectors.
Insulation. Aluminium window and door frames with thermal breaks independently offer maximum insulation performance for windows and façades in cases where it is necessary.
“Since April 2016, the AEA has been a member of the Green Building Council Spain (Consejo para la Edificación Sostenible en España).”
High strength. Aluminium’s unique property, highly demanded and valued in industries such as construction, allows it to meet the required performance specifications and minimise the dead load on structures. In addition, the low specific weight of aluminium makes it easy to transport and handle, which in turn reduces the risk of work-related injuries.
Non-toxic. Aluminium products are safe for both users and the surrounding environment, as they have no negative effects on the quality of air, soil, surface water and groundwater.
Safe in case of fire. Aluminium is fire resistant and is considered a “non-combustible” material. In the construction of industrial ceilings and exterior walls, thin aluminium panels are increasingly used, allowing heat and smoke to escape in the event of a major fire. This makes them a safe and reliable choice for construction in fire-prone areas.
Hundreds of finishes. Aluminium offers the possibility of being anodised or painted in a wide range of colours and optical effects through different surface finishes, making it a versatile choice to meet the aesthetic needs of any designer. In addition, both anodising and lacquering offer greater durability and resistance to the material.
Long service life. Aluminium is water and corrosion resistant and unaffected by harmful UV rays, ensuring optimal long-term performance.
Low maintenance. Apart from cleaning for aesthetic reasons, aluminium does not require any specific maintenance, which translates into significant cost savings and an ecological advantage over the entire life cycle of the product.
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