When you think about sustainable building products, aluminium isn’t the first material that comes to mind – but aluminium systems specialist, Alspec, is looking to change that.
In this Q+A session, Alspec’s National Specification Manager, Ross Baynham, reveals how the company is setting its sights on creating more sustainable solutions for windows and doors, as well as its ambitious ‘marginal gains’ approach to becoming a leader in sustainable business practices.
Tell me a little bit about your experience your current role at Alspec?
I moved to Australia 14 years ago and my first role was in insulation, which goes hand in hand with sustainability – and I haven’t looked back! Most of my experience has been based around energy efficient building facades, which is what led me to Alspec. My current role is National Specification Manager and I’m working on helping to build on Alspec’s range of sustainable products. Insulation is one of the first things people think of, when they consider sustainable building products, but there’s a whole range of untapped opportunities for improving energy efficiency in glazing, windows and doors, which is a big focus for us at the moment.
What changes have you seen in the industry, in recent years?
There’s been a step-change from bare minimum, compliance-based sustainability, to customers and suppliers seeing the benefit of sustainability for sustainability’s sake. It’s well beyond just ticking boxes; instead, there’s an acceptance that sustainability reduces costs and makes healthier, more comfortable buildings that are better for the planet. We’ve seen a lot of more voluntary standards being adhered to, such as WELL and Green Star, which are now associated with high quality, state of the art building and design practices. While the changes to NCC 2019 have helped, the new attitude is very much the “greener” , the better. I’ve presented to thousands of people about sustainable building solutions , but it’s only recently that these messages are being taken seriously.
What practices is Alspec putting into place to become a more sustainable business?
Sustainability is now part of the daily working life at Alspec – it’s evident across the whole business. We’re a big organisation and every department is different but are all considering sustainability in their own way. For example, our warehouses around the country have installed LED motion sensor lights, which have created a 70% electricity saving, as well as implementing power factor correction , which has cut our machinery energy consumption by 12%. In our manufacturing department, we’ve introduced a new process that enables us to cure products at lower temperatures, reducing gas consumption by 22%, as well as recycling 95% of powder used in our powder coating process. We have over 50 delivery trucks across the country in which we are replacing our steel trays with aluminium trays – that alone has removed about 2 tonnes of weight from each truck, cutting fuel consumption by 4%.
Cumulatively, changes like these, across our entire organisation, can have a major impact. We’re constantly assessing what we can do next to reduce waste, lower energy usage and become a more sustainable business.
How do you identify the next area for improvement?
We have leaders across every department, as well as a ‘Continuous Improvement Co-Ordinator’ – that’s a full-time role within Alspec. Together, they’re constantly looking to the future and have a sustainability pipeline of actions, some immediate, some more long-term. For example, one of our longer-term goals is to turn all of our buildings to solar power. It’s a process of constant brainstorming and communication between departments.
Why is Alspec sponsoring this year’s Sustainability Awards?
We don’t just want to be part of the movement to create more sustainable buildings or create more energy efficient buildings – we want to be leaders. We want to be the leaders in all of the fields in which we play, to ensure we can drive change within buildings and within design. We want to get the best outcomes for ourselves, but also for the building and design industries in general. Our approach for achieving that is by supporting our customers, our fabricators, our staff and the community at large. When I say ‘the community at large’, I mean the people who will actually end up living or working in the building for the next 50 years, when a project is finished. The more efficient a building is, the more sustainable it is and the better for everyone in the long-term. We want to leave a legacy in every building with which we’re involved.
For more information visit Alspec here.