International aluminium trade organization The Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) released its updated Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for Aluminum Extrusions and the corresponding Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) this week. The organization also released a sensitivity analysis that shows stakeholders how they may reduce the carbon footprint of the products they specify.
The EPDs, which are certified by UL Environmental, detail the environmental impact of aluminium extrusions produced in the United States and Canada. To produce the study, AEC gathered data from almost three dozen plants in both countries and the nearly 100 extrusion presses in operation at those locations.
The AEC noted that the study was much bigger than the one covering 2016, as it covered 1.75 billion pounds of production, or roughly 38 percent of North America’s output in 2020. The reports cover the studied aluminium extrusions from “cradle to grave,” with one report detailing thermally-improved extrusions and the other describing extrusions that have not been thermally treated.
Although the studies cover different types of extrusions, they both quantify data for mill finish, allowing aluminium extruders to study the environmental effects of finishing and thermal improvements.
Finally, the LCA, or EPD Background Report, provides an expanded conclusion for both studies and discusses aspects including inputs at each process step, secondary data sources employed, key assumptions and allocations, assessment of alternative scenarios regarding key inputs, data quality, and completeness assessment.
Guy Charpentier, Chair of the AEC Industry Promotion Steering Committee, said in a press release that the reports are a valuable tool for decisionmakers in the extruded aluminium value chain.
“One of the highlights of this work is the accompanying sensitivity analysis, which details what designers and specifiers should be aware of as they utilize aluminum extrusions. The EPDs show that the predominant determination of extrusion’s Global Warming Potential, or GWP [expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e),] is the feedstock, i.e., the aluminum billet that is the raw material for the extrusion process.”
“The sensitivity analysis shows how – by adjusting certain ‘levers’ in the sourcing of the raw material – specifiers, designers and architects can reduce the embodied carbon of their products,” Charpentier continued. “They should contact their aluminum extruder early in the process to ensure their environmental impact goals can be met.”
To download and read the reports, visit the AEC’s website here.