Closing the aluminium façade loop
Rethinking products and processes, WICONA is constantly exploring sustainability new opportunities with like-minded suppliers and other construction industry partners. Here we talk to Steven Helsen, Managing Director Building Systems West & Nordics at Hydro Building Systems about an inspirational new partnership with Dutch urban mining company New Horizon. Sharing the same values and mission, the two companies have taken another step towards closing the aluminium façade loop.
What was the original aim of the project? How did the partnership come about?
Sustainability is a priority at Hydro Building Systems and the Dutch arm of the business has developed a business concept that is now in the process of being trialled.
Hydro together with two leading fabricators has developed Ciskin - a fully demountable façade system.
The system has been designed to make it as easy to dismantle and change the purpose of a building as easy as possible for example by introducing dry gaskets, which eliminate the need for glue. This also makes the aluminium being reclaimed purer and simpler to recycle from the outset.
At a building’s end of life, the system can be demounted, transported and installed on another building. Alternatively, the specification can be adapted to meet an updated or changed of use requirement. For example, if a building were to be changed from a hotel to an office – the specification requirements would be different.
This system is made using Hydro CIRCAL 75R, which is produced using post consumer scrap. Hydro CIRCAL is a range of prime quality aluminium made with a minimum of 75% recycled, post-consumer scrap. It has a carbon footprint among the lowest in the world: 2.3 kg CO2 per kilo of aluminium.
One of our project partners involved then said: “What else can we do to close the loop further?” This led them to the next phase and the partnership with New Horizon.
Why did Hydro Building Systems partner with New Horizon to close the aluminium façade loop?
New Horizon is essentially a company that demolishes buildings. However, whereby traditionally a demolition company would sell parts and then the remaining waste is sent to landfill, New Horizon’s philosophy takes it one step further, focusing on closing the loop and ensuring that as much as possible from an old building is recycled and used for new buildings. Essentially, using cities of today as mines for the future.
New Horizon started out by picking off the ‘low hanging fruit’ with the largest component of a building – concrete.
Now able to provide circular concrete, the company looked also for partners for other building materials, which is how the Hydro Building Systems partnership with New Horizon was borne.
Normally, Hydro sources its post consumer scrap through scrap dealersin . However, there is no certainty about where the metal has come from.
Sourcing the aluminium scrap from New Horizon means Hydro can ‘close the loop’ even further in terms of traceability.
With facilities within Hydro (in Germany and Luxemburg) for sorting the scrap aluminium is segregated, prepared, remelted and made into new billets as Hydro CIRCAL 75R, which then goes into WICONA façade systems and onto a new building, fully closing the loop.
How do architects and specifiers benefit from the new partnership?
It enables the delivery of projects that are truly circular when it comes to aluminium.
Our recyclable and circular materials and products come with EPDs and meet international norms and regulations, like BREEAM, LEED, DNGB and similar building certifications.
WICONA’s dynamic EPDs demonstrate the carbon footprint exactly, not just for aluminium generally but the project and even down to the window system itself.
Are there any example projects that demonstrate this closed loop approach?
In June 2022, the WICONA team visited a hospital site in Breda in the Netherlands where New Horizon was contracted to demolish 15 buildings.
All the aluminium from the whole site has been transported to a Hydro recycling plant in St. Peter, Dormagen (Germany) where the aluminium has been sorted and than transported to Luxemburg to be smelted.
Bring a sustainable approach to your architectural designs to secure the future of the planet.
Looking ahead, what are the next steps for the partnership?
We’re working hard to deliver 80% recycled and 100% recyclable material that has the same quality asprime metal. Apart from providing more sustainable solutions, this will also address the building materials shortages. Getting more into projects like the Breda example will be the future.
What is your message to architects?
Bring a sustainable approach to your architectural designs to secure the future of the planet. Think green, think WICONA.