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Metropolis Magazine & Hunter Douglas Architectural on the Use of Aluminum Today

Twitter users followed along as Metropolis Magazine and Hunter Douglas Architectural held a live interview on the historic significance of aluminum and how the highly sustainable, durable building material is being used today. If you missed the live Twitterview, you can catch up on the conversation which appears below. To learn more about how aluminum is helping to reduce Hunter Douglas' carbon footprint, click here.

Metropolis Magazine:

Welcome followers to our twitterview event: #AluminumToday ! Today’s topic is aluminum and its use in architecture and design.

We realized that some architects and designers might not know everything that’s possible with aluminum today. But, as the building industry continues to explore sustainability, aluminum emerges as a material with much to offer.

Joining us are experts from Hunter Douglas Architectural, one of the leading aluminum architectural product manufacturers. Joining now to introduce themselves, are David Bailey and Ron Rice with Hunter Douglas Architectural.

Hunter Douglas Architectural:

Hi, I’m David Bailey, Director of Engineering & Materials for HD Architectural. I’ve been in the aluminum building products industry for 30 years.

I’m Ron Rice, General Manager at HD Architectural. I started working in the commercial ceilings business in 1985.

Metropolis Magazine: 

David, drawing on your experience, can you summarize the key benefits of using aluminum?

Hunter Douglas Architectural:

Aluminum is a 100% recyclable & sustainable material. So, it’s an ideal choice for green buildings. Also, aluminum’s strength-to-weight ratio and ease of formability give architects and designers lots of creative freedom.

 

Ron here: An indication of aluminum’s longevity: almost 75% of all #aluminum ever produced, is still in use. Our ceiling products are made from up to 92% recycled aluminum.

 

Metropolis Magazine:

Ron, what else should we know about the sustainability of aluminum?

Hunter Douglas Architectural:

It’s worth mentioning that since 1995, the aluminum industry's carbon footprint has declined by roughly 40%.

 
 

The fact that recycling aluminum requires up to 95% less energy than producing primary metal speaks to sustainability. As roofing, coated aluminum reflects up to 95% of sunlight, upping energy efficiency & lowering costs.

Metropolis Magazine:

David, at the manufacturing level, what kind of investments has HD Architectural made in sustainability practices?

Hunter Douglas Architectural:

Great question Metropolis Magazine. At Hunter Douglas Architectural we’ve been recycling aluminum since 1946 and we’re continually improving our process.

 

Also, at our Rotterdam plant, we invested in wide casting equipment & new smelting ovens that use 50% less energy. As a result, compared to 1970 we’ve realized an 85% reduction in energy use & carbon dioxide emissions per square/meter of blind.

Metropolis Magazine:

Speaking of sustainability: How does Hunter Douglas Architectural source their aluminum?

Hunter Douglas Architectural:

HD Architectural is vertically integrated so we source some of our aluminum from our recycling smelter in Rotterdam. We work with select recyclers in Europe who supply high-quality metal for reuse from construction materials to engine blocks.

Metropolis Magazine:

End-of-life initiatives are a hot topic these days. Does HD Architectural have any end-of-life product initiatives?

Hunter Douglas Architectural:

Ron here. Smart question. North American aluminum ceiling companies don't have end-of-life initiatives and here's why. Aluminum recycling is such a mature industry with facilities in every city; when aluminum leaves job sites, we know it gets recycled. We don't have to handle end-of-life: that doesn't exist for aluminum. As we said, 75% of the material ever produced is still in use.

Metropolis Magazine:

And how are HD Architectural‘s aluminum products unique relative to similar products from other companies?

Hunter Douglas Architectural:

A key difference is at HD Architectural we process and mill our aluminum - most companies purchase already milled metal. With our hands on the aluminum right from the start we can ensure its integrity and produce a consistently superior product.

Metropolis Magazine:

Ron, I think architects and designers want to know: why should they consider an HD Architectural #aluminum ceiling for their next project?

Hunter Douglas Architectural:

We’re not the only company making aluminum ceiling products, but HD Architectural has a reputation for innovation and quality. Our aluminum product line covers a broad spectrum of looks for almost any ceiling application.

Our BIM experts & project engineers create designs that give each space personality with an array of ceiling shapes and finishes.

 

Plus all our aluminum ceiling products are EPD certified —a definite advantage for architects seeking LEED certification.

Metropolis Magazine:

Give us the big picture -- can you explain how design is approached at HD Architectural?

Hunter Douglas Architectural:

Our approach is collaborative. We find working with architects, designers and contractors especially inspirational. We create customizable product systems that can be engineered to fit many designs.

 

Metropolis Magazine:

We’ve talked aluminum ceilings. Now, what innovations in HD window coverings should architects, designers and contractors know about?

Hunter Douglas Architectural: 

Well, window coverings is where it all started.

 

Our continuous caster produced high-quality aluminum coil in the '40s, then we began slitting it into louvers for Venetian blinds. Today, our specialized 6011 alloy results in resilient spring-tempered slats are still leaders in this product category.

Metropolis Magazine:

As we wrap up, give us your predictions: What do you see for the future of aluminum at HD Architectural?

Hunter Douglas Architectural:

Ron here. A study from WorldGBC indicates that green building is expected to double from 2016 to 2018.

 

We like to say that aluminum’s sustainability advantages begin, end and begin again with recyclability.

 

As far as specific Hunter Douglas Architectural products, computerized design, manufacturing & BIM are key drivers of innovation. We see more and more demand for panels with a twist, a slice or a special finish, even wood veneers!

 

Technology is developing rapidly, making it easier than ever to produce any number of exciting, cutting-edge designs.

Metropolis Magazine:

Clearly, aluminum has much to offer for design-driven projects that also want sustainability.

Hunter Douglas Architectural:

We think so too – thanks for expanding the conversation on aluminum with us.

 

Metropolis Magazine:

To learn more about this material at HD Architectural, read our profile here.

 

And please follow up and stay in touch with any of the contributors you saw mentioned here. Signing off! #AluminumToday

   

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