The construction industry has an enormous impact on our environment. In the UK alone, more than 400 million tonnes of material are used in construction every year (Source: UK Green Building Council) . This is sourced, transported, processed and then maintained or disposed of – every year. In recent decades, commitments and targets have been drawn up to drive the delivery of a sustainable construction industry, throughout its supply chain.
These commitments focus on the consumption of natural resources, reducing the carbon footprint, and creating safe, unpolluted and energy efficient buildings.
Influencing material choice
As a specialist metal finisher, Powdertech operates in the very final stages of a construction project, though the decision to choose powder coating may have influenced material choice earlier in the supply chain.
Powder coating itself has many ‘green’ credentials which may at first seem strange – that spraying a powdered paint would be a good idea environmentally. Yet powder coating has a low environmental impact for a number of reasons:
– It is a dry powder, requiring no solvents, unlike wet spray paints.
– With no solvents the powder emits zero or negligible volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs have high vapour pressures that can be harmful to human health when released into the air.
– Powder coatings contain no halogens or heavy metals.
– Powder coating is a factory controlled application so there is no on-site impact.
– The process takes place in a sealed booth. Any powder that is over-sprayed is collected, filtered and re-used.
– No hazardous waste – latest technologies ensure that up to 95% of what is sprayed adheres to the metal. The little that is left over is safely disposed as an inert powder.
– Powder coating does not affect the recyclability of metals.
A powder coated finish is a firm favourite for the sustainable metal of choice in construction – aluminium. Aluminium is quite simply a remarkable resource and one which offers so much to the construction industry beyond its light weight and high strength. It is not only the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust but it also has astonishing recycling properties:
– Of the aluminium produced since commercial discovery in 1880, 75% is still in use today.
– With no loss of strength or integrity, just over 97% of aluminium from a building is recyclable.
– Aluminium uses only 5% of its original production energy in order to be recycled.
Source: Council for Aluminium in Building (CAB)
The atomic structure of aluminium is unaltered during the refining process and it can be recycled with no loss of its physical properties. When the old Wembley stadium was dismantled 96% of the aluminium was recovered for re-use. Powder coating on aluminium, or indeed on any metal does not affect its recyclability. The coating can be stripped off with no loss of integrity to the underlying metal.
Together, powder coating and aluminium combine to produce some amazing results for architects and designers. The colours, gloss levels and textures available in powder coatings offer an enormous choice and scope for creating stunning effects. What is more, these effects can be of environmental value themselves. The look of wood can be achieved through using Powdertech Wood Finish on aluminium, instead of cutting down more trees. Powder coatings can also be formulated to absorb or reflect solar radiation and can therefore be used to contribute to a building’s climate control.
The impact of human life on the environment is under scrutiny as never before. Efforts to improve the way we interact with our environment are steadily increasing and every small change has a positive impact. Powder coating and aluminium are contributing to that positive impact within the construction industry.
Please feel free to contact us to talk about powder coatings and we will be happy to share our knowledge and experience with you.