Architecture and Design is proud to announce Capral Aluminium as the official sponsor of the ‘Multiple Dwelling’ category at the 2019 Sustainability Awards. 

In the lead up to the Sustainability Awards, we spoke to [ Brendon Orth ], the Sustainability Manager at Capral Aluminium, to discuss the company’s multifaceted commitment to sustainability and their plans for the future.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Including your background, position and role at Capral Aluminium?

I am a married man with a family of 3 adult children who enjoys travelling the country and the globe. To fund my adventures I have worked for Capral for 29 years, starting out in Customer Service and working my way through to my current role of National Manager Commercial Systems and Specification. My responsibilities include the development of our Architectural Glazing Systems to meet market requirements including the forever changing Australian standards. I also have a team of specification managers that interact daily with architects, building designers, engineers and builders assisting them to find and select products appropriate from our ranges that meet the project needs and requirements.

What is Capral’s position in the larger industry?

Commencing operations in 1936 Capral have grown to become Australia’s largest manufacturer and supplier of aluminium extrusions. These extrusions are sold into a variety of markets including Building & Construction, Automotive, Marine, Security and General Industrial. We have a national footprint with extrusion facilities in 5 states and distribution warehouses in all states and regions employing a safe workforce of over 1000 employees. We are fortunate enough to have Australia’s largest Research and Development team based in Victoria with a NATA certified testing laboratory. This enables us to be on the forefront of product innovation in the window industry utilising Thermal Break technology and advanced hardware to improve system designs. A close working relationship Schüco allows us to extend our range with German engineered products making Capral the market leader in the industry.

As the largest manufacturer and distributor of aluminium profiles in Australia, Capral’s position on sustainability sets the standard in the industry. Can you tell us the key strategies and goals that inform the company’s approach to sustainability?

Sustainability is something that runs right through our business as we consider our profits, the planet and our people. As an operation it is about controlling our costs, and reviewing areas like energy sourcing and usage, scrap reduction and recycling, chemicals used on site, and packaging options. Our logistics team strategy in relation to sustainability is to extrude local needs on the local press. Our people are an important part of business and we provide many training opportunities to improve their skills and retain them in employment.

Manufacturing processes are key to a company’s environmental footprint, can you tell us about Capral’s position on local manufacturing and how having a national manufacturing footprint works from a sustainability perspective?

The benefits of a national footprint enable us to do a number of things that contribute positively to the environment. A simple example is that manufacturing miles are reduced on an item when we are able to extrude and finish at our local manufacturing operation as opposed to extruded interstate (or overseas) and shipping to our local distribution warehouse. Holding the right range of products locally enables fabricators to receive 1 delivery from Capral on a shorter lead time which allows for better resource planning and utilisation.

Can you expand on the lifecycle of aluminium and Capral products?

Aluminium starts its life off as Bauxite that is mined and sent to a refinery for processing into Alumina powder. The alumina powder is processed by a smelter where it is heated to 950 degrees Celsius to liquefy it so that it can be cast it into logs or billets. This stage of the process consumes the most amount of energy in the life cycle. Billets are rolled into flat sheet or plate, and logs get extruded into aluminium extrusion shapes. The extrusions produced by Capral are used in a large variety of applications and markets. A window fabricator would use extrusions to make windows and put them into a building where they would sit until the building is refurbished or demolished. The old window extrusions go to a scrap yard where they are remelted back into logs or billets and the cycle starts again.

Aluminium has one of the highest recycling rates of any metal and is an environmentally sustainable material. Recycling of aluminium only requires 5% of the initial energy consumed to create it. This inherent property differentiates from other framing materials reinforcing its sustainable credentials.

Can you tell us how Capral Aluminium products offset energy consumption during their use phase?

High performance aluminium windows are able to meet or exceed energy efficiency standards. Aluminium windows and doors achieve improvements in heat gain and heat loss through windows by up to 60%, reducing the amount of energy consumed in the home or building. In the case of an average gas heated home in Melbourne, the use of aluminium double glazed windows delivers CO2 equivalent savings of almost three times that required to produce the aluminium frames, just within the first year. Over the life of the building, energy savings outweigh the initial energy input by well over 100 times. For homes with electrical heating, or cooling for homes in hot climates, savings run into multiples of close to 300 times.

With sustainability continuing to dominate public consciousness, what do you think the future of manufacturing looks like? What can companies do to lead conversations on sustainability? 

Companies need to consider sustainability in all facets of their business. From reducing waste, to reduced transport costs, and energy saving globes in warehouses. Sustainability needs to be embedded in the culture of a company. You can’t just post a statement on your website. Every department in the organisation can do something to contribute to a better sustainable future for this country. Executives should look at it as a similar level/responsibility to safety in the workplace.   

Capral Aluminium is sponsoring the ‘Multiple Dwelling’ category. What are you excited to see from shortlisters in this category?

The shortlisted projects are amazing. I’m very impressed how every facet of the building has been considered to make it sustainable, not only for the environment but for the families who occupy the space.

What do the Sustainability Awards mean to you? Why did Capral Aluminium decide to get involved?

Capral has worked very closely with A&D over the years and we couldn’t let this opportunity go by. We like to get involved with these initiatives that promote and encourage a new way of thinking and design that will benefit future generations. It sits very close to our ethos.  As someone who oversees product design at Capral, our mentality is always tuned to how our window and door systems can conform to the standards, provide comfort  and add costs savings to the inhabitants of the building.  Its for these reasons were on board.