When it comes to using sustainable materials for “green” construction, one of the world’s most sustainable and high performing, but too often forgotten material is zinc. Everywhere you look today, the push is about “going green” and being “sustainable” and yet, this is one of the natural materials that we simply don’t consider.
When you look at the facts, in America alone, we are using almost 40 percent of our energy, almost 70% of that is electricity, to build homes. The amount of carbon dioxide our buildings is emitting is almost at 40 percent and contributes to ¼ of the nitrogen oxide that is in our air. Currently, the biggest part of this energy used is produced from fossil fuel resources that are non-renewable.
Zinc is the world’s twenty-third most abundant element when it comes to natural materials. This non-ferrous metal comes from the crust of the earth and isn’t susceptible to corrosion or rust. This is a weatherproof natural material that is also seismic proof and immune to the UV rays of the sun. This makes it one of the world’s few natural materials that can be expected to have a long lifespan and not degrade.
What many people do not realize about architectural zinc it that can develop a protective layer on its own … zinc hydroxyl-carbonate. After that layer has formed, it blocks chemicals and moisture penetrating it. If that protective layer is scratched, it regenerates its self. Zinc is self-healing and this is why roofs and walls made of zinc can last up to 100 years.
It doesn’t take much energy to manufacture Zinc and the maintenance is minimal. Zinc is 100% recyclable from its beginnings to where it is used. It is one material that you won’t find filling up landfills.
The Lesser Expensive Choices
Zinc’s popularity in American fell when other roofing materials became less expensive like asphalt shingles during the 60s and 70s. Today, architects in America are falling in love with zinc again because of the beauty and the durability it offers. The environmentally sustainable construction it offers is a bonus too.
Using zinc in commercial, government, and institution construction is starting to gain popularity. We’re seeing more of it not only in new-build but in renovations and a lot in historic restoration. There are other natural materials and man-made materials that are less expensive to purchase. Looking at the long-lifespan zinc offers, the balance of budget now and budget over the years is worth the consideration.