For more than thirty years, ARCPANEL’s insulated panel systems have been used throughout the Australian market for innovative, sustainable roofing solutions. With the recent acquisition of Ritek Roof Systems and Composite Roofing (CRS), ARCPANEL’s environmentally friendly offering is stronger than ever. In the lead up to the company’s sponsorship of the 2018 Sustainability Awards, we caught up with Peter Kelly, ARCPANEL Director & General Manager, to hear about the company’s latest sustainability efforts.
Q: ARCPANEL has been involved in the Australian roofing industry for many years. In the time that you’ve been in business, how have you seen the industry develop with respect to sustainability?
A: I think there have certainly been many innovative products like ours that have been developed throughout the construction industry. Some of these products are based on using advanced composite materials and are focused on introducing better ways to manufacture building materials, having less impact on our natural resources and environment. More importantly, these new materials can provide improved structural benefits to cater for those extreme weather events, which then lead to more sustainable outcomes for the whole industry and of course, those that occupy or use the buildings.
Q: Right. In line with these changes to the industry, have you noticed changing consumer preferences in terms of greater demand for sustainability or eco-friendly products?
A: Yes, definitely. The way our products are designed is so that they are highly customisable, which allows them to adjust to meet changing demands and deliver what our customers need. So the industry is definitely moving and shifting – and ARCPANEL moves with it.
In addition to that, over the last ten years there’s been a more focus on climate change. I guess there has been swings and roundabouts in terms of our understanding and the effects [of climate change], but I think more and more people are now aware that the environment is changing and that improvements are needed to the way we build buildings. This leads to increased demand, which has perhaps driven the industry to innovate to where we are today.
Q: ARCPANEL incorporates passive design features into your products and supports the installation of solar and renewable energy solutions. Can you please provide more detail about your overall sustainability strategy?
A: We believe that all the products we manufacture do add to the overall sustainability performance in that they are all high performance and incorporate passive features to minimise energy, materials and land use. For example, they allow larger spans and cantilevers when used for roofing, which can change the outdoor living area or reduce construction costs by performing so much better than conventional construction materials. Our material choices focus on health, so our manufactured products contain no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) or formaldehydes, and they can reduce allergies, reactions, and other health risks.
When our products are used by designers with a sustainability focus, they use the passive features of the products, which can allow for greater shading and greater living air space in a building. For example, our industry leading roof cantilever capability can extend the roof past the structure (unsupported), to improve the shading of the summer sun but still allow the winter sun to come in. They also provide greater catchment areas for rainfall and rainwater harvesting. In terms of what we really focus on, it’s combining all these key features into one high quality finished product. And because our products are pre-fabricated and manufactured in controlled environment, they are basically manufactured to suit the project, delivered to site, and installed with absolute minimum waste.
Q: How does this sustainability vision tie in with major market concerns, particularly in terms of code compliance? For example, fire performance is a major concern in today’s construction industry: are all ARCPANEL products CodeMark certified for fire performance?
A: We understand that the recent building code changes are designed to meet the very important requirement of protecting human life. Because of the recent – and unfortunate – disasters that have taken place, there’s been a real focus on fire performance and whether a product is conforming or non-conforming to the building code. Next to longevity and sustainability, in all aspects of our business we ensure that we cover all the aspects for our product conformance. One of the key ways in which we’ve addressed that is to use the CodeMark scheme to effectively verify that our products do in fact meet the requirements of the building code.
An important aspect of the BCA is that you must provide evidence that a product meets the minimum building code requirements, there is evidence of suitability to ensure the product is fit for purpose. So we include this in our product manuals, and provide evidence of the testing that supports our products. We comply with the annual detailed audit process that the CodeMark scheme requires, and all the products that ARCPANEL manufactures are going through the same CodeMark certification scheme.
Q: I see. In a similar vein to that, do you have any documentation regarding sustainability certification?
A: Yes, we’ve used EcoSpecifier. Our products are listed on the EcoSpecifier eco-products knowledgebase and we are continuing to use the EcoSpecifier scheme for the future.
Q: Is ARCPANEL taking any other measures to achieve sustainability outcomes?
A: There are a few key points – in our manufacturing facilities, all our rainwater is harvested and stored in underground tanks and used for plumbing and immigration, and almost all of our waste produced during the manufacturing process is recycled: the steel, the foam. Parts of our packaging are either recycled products themselves or are recyclable. For example, the plastic film that’s used in our packaging is a recycled product and in itself can be recycled, and the timber that we use for our crating is all Chain of Custody certified.
We also choose our suppliers very carefully to ensure that they engage with our sustainability policy. Everything that we engage with is carefully selected. ARCPANEL is now signed up to join the ecoBiz program, and we’re looking for ways that we can further reduce our energy consumption, waste production, and improve our overall sustainability footprint. There are also a few avenues that we’re engaged with in terms of external groups and so forth. On the Sunshine Coast, where our manufacturing facility is, a group of organisations has teamed up to form Cleantech Industries Sunshine Coast (CISC) a membership based eco business hub connecting eco-friendly businesses, which I am the new President of. CISC is engaged with local Government and community, promoting the benefits of innovative, sustainable choices for clean energy, waste management, water management and built environment.