While you may think of wood as the main source of sustainable building material, various metals actually play an integral role in keeping the green building industry going. Here’s how metals contribute to the bigger sustainability picture:
Metals like copper, stainless steel, and aluminum are 100% recyclable which means they can be remade into the same product without sacrificing quality. Recycling metal also reduces emissions and uses less energy than mining, milling, and refining new material. Just to give you an idea of how useful recycled metal can be, here are a few stats you might find interesting:
- 90% of end-of-life stainless steel is recycled into new products and most stainless products contain about 60% recycled content.
- Of all the aluminum produced in the United States, around 75% of it is still in use today.
- Approximately 75% of all copper based products contain recycled copper.
So, from the very start, these metals reduce waste and are energy efficient no matter their form.
They Have Long Lifespans
In essence, sustainability is all about maintaining longevity, reducing waste, and making the environment better for the next generation. Metals like stainless and aluminum contribute to the longevity of a project because, in most cases, they last for decades before they need to be replaced and recycled.
They’re Durable and Versatile
Metals like stainless steel and aluminum are durable and malleable, making them some of the most versatile materials to work with. They can be used on all aspects of green building projects, from core construction and interior design to outdoor applications like solar energy panels.
One of the contributing factors to a metal’s versatility is its content. For instance, the chromium and nickel content in stainless steel protect against rust and corrosion which can happen in high temperatures or severe environmental conditions. Aluminum, on the other hand, naturally forms a layer of oxide that is impermeable and repairs itself when damaged.
This kind of efficiency in application and resistance to the elements makes these materials ideal for sustainability.
Other Sectors Rely on Them
The appeal of metal in sustainable building permeates multiple sectors, including those that enable sustainability to continue. Automotive, construction, transport, and tool industries all depend on metals to function. And it’s the innovations of these industries that help green building forge ahead.