Choosing an alternative to wood
The project design included a car park solar shading system from Contrasol Ltd. A favoured material for harmony with rural surroundings is wood, for obvious reasons, but sustainability issues and the advantages of using recyclable metal mean that using Powdertech’s high-performance Wood Finish powder coating (PWF™) was the preferred alternative. Contrasol’s rectangular section extruded aluminium profiles form feature solar shading ‘fins’ running vertically alongside the exterior of the multi-storey car park, with galvanised steel plates behind the fins at each floor level in order to screen car headlights. Using Powdertech’s PWF 020 Wood Finish on the metal screening, the large building could be brought into harmony with its environment, being less visible in the landscape. Unlike wood, PWF will not deteriorate or warp. It is also a benefit for the installer to be working with a homogenous material with good dimensional stability. The colour and gloss retention for Wood Finish is excellent, and it will remain to look good for over 25 years with minimal maintenance required. This was an extensive solar shading system and would have required a large quantity of wood. Instead, Powdertech coated 9000m of 200 x 50mm extruded aluminium profiles, 530 pre-galvanised steel plates, 1m x 1.5 m, 7700 fixing brackets and 5780 end caps.
The use wood or save wood debate
“Whether or not the use of wood in construction can be considered eco-friendly and sustainable is a much-debated issue,” says Richard Besant, Director of Powdertech Corby. “On the one hand, proponents of using wood in construction point out that, of course, it is sustainable as it can be constantly regenerated. There is the growth cycle time-lag to be considered though, and the challenge of ensuring that supplies are from truly responsibly managed sources. Added to this, wood is not recyclable, whereas aluminium is, almost infinitely, and the powder coating does not alter this. Forests are vitally important to our ecosystem, soaking up and storing CO2, preventing it from going into the atmosphere, regulating water cycles, and minimising the impact of storms and floods by controlling soil erosion. By using metal with a high-performance architectural powder coating, the customer has a recyclable system with excellent abrasion and corrosion resistance. Aluminium/PWF designs combine the strength and versatility of metal with the visual appeal of wood, and they can be slimmer and more aesthetically appealing. And as a further benefit, there is virtually no maintenance required – just an occasional wash down with water. PWF has far better weather resistance than wood, with no fading or discolouration. At Powdertech, we feel that where using metal/PWF is clearly a benefit to design and construction it is certainly worth saving a few trees.”