- Council for Aluminium in Building (CAB) -

CAB 'Aluminium Specification on the Rise'

Adrian Toon, CAB Marketing Committee Chair, looks at the issues surrounding the specification of aluminium in building projects at a time when there is overwhelming evidence of a speeding up in the growth of Aluminium fabrication. The question is, where is the demand emanating?

In the commercial new-build sector there is a great concern, according to Davis Langdon, that only about twenty percent of all specifications at design stage ever reach site. Whilst ‘Value Engineering’ can reduce initial building costs, life expectancy, maintenance, replacement parts and service - ‘a product’s life cycle’ is often overlooked in this exercise, which can often lead to heavy costs being incurred later in the building’s lifetime.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) helps in this respect as usually specified BIM objects supplied by reputable manufacturers include a full specification including replacement parts, servicing and maintenance schedules. More importantly specifiers need to be more aware of a product’s life cycle to give them confidence in the product’s long term capabilities.

As well as providing a product’s capability, manufacturers now need to inform specifiers of the products long term life expectancy and maintenance as part of their commitment to product sustainability. This should be aimed at offering specifiers ammunition and argument to keep their well researched specifications in place.

In the home improvement sector we are seeing more aluminium being used in roof construction, particularly in orangery solutions. Sliding folding doors are often manufactured in aluminium, as are a growing number of windows in replacement and refurbishment. As opposed to other material fabrication, an aluminium fabrication shop can be set up at a very reasonable cost, further reducing barriers to entry. Not surprisingly then an increasing number of fabricators are moving to offer an aluminium range.

Perhaps one of the crucial features of aluminium fabrication is choice. There are a vast number of profiles and hardware options available giving a fabricator the ability to provide an almost bespoke solution for each project. It is noticeable that there are a growing number of smaller fabricators turning to aluminium for its flexibility in design, slim sight lines, range of profiles and ease in fabrication. CAB research shows that this trend is set to continue as we begin to refurbish, rather than rebuild, more of our building stock in the future.

Specification has been a key theme for CAB throughout its 2012 programme and it is looking to continue the theme at its next Regional meeting in October with speakers to include leading consultants and architects. The specification topic was brainstormed by the CAB Marketing Committee recently to determine what the Trade Association role in this issue should be and feedback will be provided at the meeting.

In recent months CAB has organised leading edge events where specification issues were highlighted such as the metal’s natural characteristics that give it such a sustainable image. CAB has also been involved in research projects both in the UK and Internationally in the last 18 months that have highlighted issues such as aluminium’s long service life and how the impact of human ecotoxicity is a fraction of that previously stated. CAB’s widely acknowledged publication on ‘Aluminium and Sustainability’ is still one of the most popular downloads on its website – www.c-a-b.org.uk

CAB has run and will continue to support major architectural aluminium awards to highlight the material’s excellence in both new build and renovation. For further information on specifying aluminium please contact Julie Harley at the CAB office on 01453 828851 or email julie.harley@c-a-b.org.uk.

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