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Sustainability: In-Use Benefits

Aluminum Extrusion Sustainability In-Use Benefits

While aluminum extrusions have positive sustainability benefits due to their recyclability, recycled content and geographically disbursed production network (reducing transport fuel and emissions), often their greatest environmental benefit comes in use, i.e.: from the reductions in environmental impact realized from more efficient products.

Extrusions' high strength and low weight provides benefit in all moving parts, reducing the mass that must be moved, whether in a solar tracking system or a delivery truck. Such mass reductions lead to downsizing of other components, effecting reductions in energy consumption and carbon emissions.

These benefits are particularly important in the transportation market, where the use of extrusions, and other aluminum components, is vital to achieving substantial gains in fuel efficiency (and greenhouse gas reduction). Whether for cars, trucks, or off-road equipment, vehicle builders are increasingly using extrusions to improve efficiency.

For example, in cars, each pound of aluminum used in lieu of high strength steel:

  • saves the equivalent of 3.1 gallons of crude oil over the life of the vehicle
  • saves CO2 from day one, using recycled aluminum

Lb of CO2 saved/Lb of aluminum replacing steel in cars

CO2 Savings

As in transportation, aluminum extrusions are playing a major role in making buildings more efficient. Commercial buildings account for 18% of all US energy consumption (vs. 28% for transportation). The use of improved window and façade systems, sunshades — often with integrated photovoltaic panels, light shelves and other extrusion based building components — can significantly reduce operating costs and energy usage over a building's life.

New Yorks Empire State BuildingA recent project to replace the 6400 windows in New York's Empire State Building with state-of-the-art thermal barrier windows is estimated to save over $750,000 per year in heating and cooling costs.

To learn more about aluminum extrusion applications & performance in building & construction, and to earn continuing education credits while you do so, visit AEC Daily, the largest provider of free on-line continuing education to construction professionals. The Aluminum Extrusion Council's new extrusion course is approved for credit by AIA, the US Green Building Council, NAHB, NARI and over 10 other construction-related organizations.