We hear a lot these days about going green inside the home. But what about the greenhouse gases produced from the construction and maintenance of the buildings we reside in? For the green-conscious, zinc’s properties can ease this aspect of eco-guilt.
Zinc : a natural and essential element.
Zinc is an abundant mineral in nature, being found in water, air, soil and rocks. It is a natural component in the Earth’s crust, and therefore an integral part of our environment. It has an average natural concentration of 70mg/kg.
Zinc is essential to the survival of any living organism, including humans. Among other things, zinc is crucial for cell regeneration, growth activation, the development of vital organs and for the immune system.
Zinc: an abundant element.
Zinc is the 24th most abundant element in the Earth´s crust and the world´s reserves are estimated at 2000 million tonnes. Nowadays 75% of zinc used in the combined total employed in building applications, the metallurgical industry and for medicinal purposes comes from mines. In order to increase the efficiency of zinc extraction (and therefore preserve the reserves), the mining industry is investing in new techniques and technologies. The remainder comes from recycling or from the refinement of the secondary zinc.
elZinc: a long-lasting building material.
Zinc is a ‘living’ material, it protects itself by naturally developing a patina during the early stages of its life that guards against corrosion, and gives it self-healing properties making it extremely durable. Its life span can exceed 100 years (depending on the surrounding atmosphere), indeed in wall cladding applications some experts estimate an expected life span of some 200 years. In order to guarantee the longevity of this versatile metal, correct execution of the zinc cladding is a must.
elZinc: recyclable material
Zinc is 100% recyclable and can be reused a practically unlimited number of times, without the loss of any of its chemical or mechanical properties, or any loss in quality.
Note: All of the zinc by-products that are generated during the elZinc production processes are recycled and reused, either in its own production processes or externally such as in the use of zinc oxide as a catalyst in the vulcanization of rubber.
elZinc: sustainable material.
The production process is less energy intensive than other metals used in construction. Indeed, it is significantly less than in aluminium or copper production :
|Aluminium 255 MJ/kg||482 MJ/m2 (0.7 mm thick aluminium)|
|Copper 70 MJ/kg||375 MJ/m2 (0.6 mm thick copper)|
|Zinc 51 MJ/kg||238 MJ/m2 (0.65 mm thick zinc)|
Source: ‘Sustainable Construction: Green Building Design and Delivery’.
When used as the building envelope, it contributes to preserving natural resources through efficient use of energy, reducing greenhouse gases and minimizing the use of existing zinc ore reserves.