Because our cities and neighborhoods continue to grow on a daily basis, there is an increased effort for creating green, or sustainable, buildings. But why is this important? The continuous growth of our communities has a very real and harmful impact on the environment and natural world around us, from air quality to amount of landfill waste to the consumption of energy, water, and electricity. While it may feel as though these resources are unlimited, this is not actually the case. Creating buildings that are more sustainable helps to reduce the amount of resources used, thus better protecting the natural world around us without sacrificing quality of life. One material aiding in the process for a greener world is aluminum. Today, an increasing number of buildings are using aluminum extrusions in their design and construction. Read on to explore how using aluminum contributes to sustainable building.
What are LEED Buildings?
When we talk about sustainable building, we usually hear the term LEED buildings. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design, as it is a widely used and accepted rating system for green buildings around the world. LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, and offers a framework for building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions that teams can use to create buildings that better incorporate cost-saving, healthy, and efficient measures.
Buildings of virtually any time can be rated using the LEED system, from commercial to residential buildings. Buildings are scored based on performance in five key areas that include indoor environmental quality, materials and resources, water efficiency, sustainable sites, and energy and atmosphere. Based on the number of points received across these five areas, a building will be rated as Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum.
Benefits to Using Aluminum in Green Buildings
In the effort to be green, building developers and operators are incorporating aluminum at the various stages of development for a variety of reasons. Aluminum can be used for sustainable walls, roofs, interior trims, framing systems, curtain walls, decoration, and much more.
One of the benefits to using aluminum in green buildings is its energy efficiency. Aluminum is a great option for roofs because, when properly coated, it can actually reflect close to 95% of solar energy that reaches it. The ability to reflect solar energy increases a building’s energy efficiency, which decreases the need for energy-guzzling systems to regulate temperature within the building. Compared to other metals such as iron or steel, aluminum is dramatically more energy efficient.
Another key way in which aluminum contributes to sustainable building is that is it easily recycled. Unlike many other metals, aluminum is 100% recyclable. It can be used over and over again without losing any of the properties that make it such a great material to work with, including its malleability, lightweight nature, and strength. The ability to maintain its quality despite repeated use is key, particularly when it comes to constructing sustainable buildings, as developers know that they’re investing in materials that they can use essentially forever.
Another characteristic of aluminum that makes it so green is that it is highly resistant to corrosion. Unlike other materials that rust and degrade, aluminum does not require any paints or coatings. This means that despite adverse conditions, building owners will not have to conduct non-environmentally friendly repairs and disposals of no longer usable materials. Aluminum is resistant to corrosion thanks to the naturally produced oxide coating this alloy creates.
Popular Example of Aluminum Use: The Empire State Building
One of the crowning examples of aluminum sustainability at work in a building is with the Empire State Building. Constructed between 1930 and 1932, the Empire State Building features wide use of the material throughout, most notably with the iconic spire atop, as well as for major interior structures. In 1994, the steel window frames of the building were replaced with aluminum frames after complications with deterioration and water leaks. Since the Empire State Building was completed, the use of aluminum in buildings has steadily increased over time.
Contact Us Today
At Eagle Mouldings, we are committed to providing the materials needed for buildings to maximize sustainability and efficiency. If you’re considering an aluminum extrusion for the construction or renovation of a building, contact us today to discuss your options and receive recommendations from seasoned experts to create an aluminum green building LEED certified to the appropriate standards.