We do however, need to balance this with the growing concerns at the effects of climate change and a consequent increasing use of engineered materials, the need for a new approach to maximise the value of raw materials by keeping buildings, infrastructure, resources and materials in use for as long as possible is clear.
The galvanizing industry has welcomed this increasing focus on design for durability, deconstruction, disassembly and flexibility as well as on re-use, recovery or remanufacturing of materials. Galvanized steel structures and components are ideal circular materials for low carbon infrastructure.
Recognition that the concept of a circular economy is fundamental to optimising sustainability of materials and hot dip galvanized steel perfectly illustrates this:
- Hot dip galvanizing of steel products after fabrication delivers the highest levels of corrosion protection – the steel structure or component will often achieve its design life with no maintenance.
- The galvanized coating can follow the steel structure through multiple cycles of re-reuse.
- Galvanized coatings are bonded to the steel – allowing the steel product to be re-used along with the original coating without need for recoating (just think of those scaffolding poles that are repeatedly assembled and disassembled around our buildings).
- Galvanized steel components that have reached the end of their design life, or are uninstalled for any other reason, can be re-galvanized and returned to the original use.
- If the re-use cycles come to an end, both steel and zinc are recycled together in the well-established steel recycling processes – with the zinc being returned, without loss of properties, to zinc production plants and eventually back into the galvanizing process.
If a material system was specially designed for the circular economy, hot dip galvanizing would be a great example. But, it is here today and has been following these principles for decades.
Galvanizing and Sustainable Construction:
A Specifier’s Guide
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