Solution for sustainable construction and renovation
In this whitepaper, we review the carbon impact of aluminium in construction, and explore via different real case studies how low-carbon aluminium can help reducing embodied carbon in new buildings, retrofit, and act as a competitive advantage for manufacturers.
Aluminium is an essential construction material with unique properties, including light weight, ease of extrusion to any shape, and excellent durability. These properties, combined with global growth in construction and renovation, contribute to the growing demand for aluminium.
Primary aluminium, or aluminium produced made by smelting bauxite or nepheline ore, is an electricity-intensive raw material. Its production accounts for 4-5 % of the global electricity demand.
Low-carbon aluminium is an essential solution for more sustainable construction and renovation. In this paper, the concept of low-carbon aluminium refers to primary aluminium made with 100 % renewable energy.
Aluminium is a highly circular and fully recyclable material, which has significant potential to reduce product emissions. However, today recycling can only satisfy less than 30 % of global demand: according to the International Aluminium Institute, 75 % of aluminium ever produced is still in use. Additionally, growing demand for aluminium exceeds usable scrap, and more progress is required in sorting post-consumer and fabricated scrap.
New buildings use aluminium in facades, cladding, windows, panels, and partition walls. An education sector case study in chapter 2.3. demonstrates that aluminium can account for 42 % of total embodied carbon in wood-framed buildings. In such cases, low-carbon aluminium can reduce embodied carbon by up to one fifth. In commercial buildings with traditional structures and aluminium parts, low-carbon aluminium can reduce carbon by around 7 %.
Low-carbon aluminium can reduce embodied carbon of wood-framed buildings by one fifth. In traditional buildings, reduction potential is 7%.
The benchmark calculations in this paper are obtained using One Click LCA software and Carbon Heroes Benchmark Program, which is a global building embodied carbon benchmarking initiative collecting embodied carbon data from more than one thousand real projects. The included case studies were provided by stok and One Click LCA Ltd. The views presented herein, as well as any omissions and errors, are those of One Click LCA Ltd. The creation of this white paper was supported by EN+ Group.
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About One Click LCA Ltd
One Click LCA supports over 60 systems identified in The Embodied Carbon Review. One Click LCA also conducts selective leading-edge research in built environment sustainability, in particular for embodied carbon, and life cycle assessment.
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