Aluminum Use Grows in Sustainable Design & Construction

CHICAGO — The Empire State Building, constructed in 1930 to 1932, was the first building to make major use of aluminum. Since then, the use and value of aluminum has increased drastically in green design and sustainable construction. Not only does it cost less than contemporary construction materials like steel and concrete, it reduces sustainability costs and increases a building’s efficiency.

According to the 2016 global aluminum market for building and construction sector report by RnR Market Research, with its U.S. office in Chicago, the use of aluminum is expected to grow annually by 6.31 percent from 2016 to 2020.

Its popularity can also be credited to the global desire for a greener, more sustainable and eco-friendly environment. Using aluminum in construction design can qualify building projects for LEED standards as well.

The report contributes to the rise of aluminum to integrated photovoltaic systems or BIPVs. BIPVs are aluminum-framed photovoltaic systems used in facades, windows and roofs of buildings. They’re considered a green initiative and act as an on-site energy generator.

BIPVs are designed to generate electricity through solar power. The costs of BIPVs vary depending on the size of the building as well as the number of solar cells used. While installation can be expensive, BIPVs are designed with the long-term intention of reducing a building’s energy consumption as well as the costs associated with it.

The report states that another factor contributing to the rise of aluminum is the increase in the automation of building systems. Automation means adding a centralized control system that is designed to reduce the consumption of energy, lower the operating costs and increase the lifespan of utilities.

New York-based Alcoa; Paris-based Constellium; United Arab Emirates-based Gulf Extrusions; Mumbai-based Hindalco Industries; Atlanta-based Novelis; Oslo-based Sapa; and Moscow-based RUSAL are all companies that have made global contributions to the popularity of aluminum.

 

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