System solutions in sheet metal and steel yield a reduced carbon footprint, lower power consumption and shorter installation time.

How can it be worthwhile to think smaller? With its theme ‘Think Less,’ the Lindab Group attempts to show how its building products and system solutions in sheet metal and steel can reduce carbon footprints, lower power consumption and shorten installation time. ‘Less is more,’ says Lindab, basing its reasoning on the environmental benefits of steel.

Using steel yields tighter duct systems, sound and well-insulated construction systems, and saves time. Let us see how the ‘Think Less’ adage applies to Lindab’s products for roof drainage, ventilation and steel buildings.

The strength of steel

Steel is one of the most recyclable materials. And about 95-98 percent of what Lindab produces is recyclable. This was not something the company thought about when it was founded 50 years ago. At the time, environmental issues were not very high on the agenda and the choice of steel as a raw material had more to do with simplifying the work of the builder.

The basic concept of simplifying construction with steel remains in the highest degree, but the environmental performance has become increasingly important for Lindab.

“Steel is a strong material which makes it possible to build light and stable structures with less material consumption. In addition, the steel is easy to work with and never has to dry. These are benefits that will save a lot of time on the site and provide sound building solutions,” says David Brodetsky, president and CEO of Lindab.

“If we add less energy use for the property’s operation, less maintenance, less job with planning and optimization, as well as less material and time spent on site, it was natural also to highlight the environmental aspects of our products and system solutions. The idea of ‘Think Less’ was thus born.”

Life cycle analysis and carbon footprint provides guidance

A number of Lindab’s main products have been analyzed according to the principles of lifecycle analysis (LCA), or from a ‘cradle to grave’ perspective.

“In practice, this means that the calculations are based on the total environmental impact of Lindab’s products from the mining of the iron ore to the finished building products that leave our factories. Environmental impacts have been calculated in GWPs (see box), which measure the extent to which a product or service contributes to climate change,” explains Johan Fridh, Environmental Manager at Lindab.

“If we look at our Rainline range of products for roof drainage, calculations show that the products made of galvanized steel have a favorable GWP value compared to other roofing materials. The same goes for Coverline where steel roofing is compared to concrete and ceramic roofing. Again, the impact of steel is considerably lower. All product groups within the business areas Ventilation and Building Components have also calculated their carbon footprint. And the Building Systems business area is currently working with these tests,” continues Fridh.

Think Less – material savings and energy efficiency

Smaller carbon footprint with smarter houses.

Today, residential housing accounts for about 40 percent of Europe’s total energy consumption. The real estate industry in general has a great potential for energy savings and reduced environmental impact.

New construction techniques, such as passive houses, do present greater demands in many areas, such as the need for a balanced and well-functioning ventilation system.

Is there a circular ventilation shaft in a building? Chances are that it is a Lindab product.

‘Think Less’ means that the circular ventilation system with rubber seals can be constructed with approximately 25 percent less steel, compared to a traditional rectangular system. Since the system is airtight it increases energy efficiency and operating economy will thus be better. Additionally, noise pollution can be kept down. Airtight canal systems take the air to where it should go providing optimum operating energy for the unit.

‘Think Less’ is also about energy efficient solutions for cooling, heating and variable flow systems including baffle systems. Lindab’s ECOhybrid systems provide heating, cooling and ventilation in a compact supply unit. The system works in combination with heat pumps, exhaust systems and a heat exchanger, an FTX system.

ECOhybrid combines the low transmission losses and low air volume requirements of baffles with the requirements of ventilation technologies in general to have accurate control.

Using a cold baffle means that the need for fresh air is what regulates the ventilation volumes which in turn leads to energy savings. At the same time, a smaller dimensioned canal system translates into less transmission losses that also increase energy savings.

Add to this ECOhybrid’s integrated motion sensor that turns off the lights and reduces air supply and temperature control when no one is in the room and one can reduce energy requirements by over 30 percent.

‘Think Less’ can also be applied in the construction of buildings.

“Light Construction technology puts energy efficiency in focus”, says Johan Andersson, at Lindab Profile. “We therefore want to increase the use of slotted steel profiles in the outer walls. Thermal conductivity in such a beam is about 80 percent lower compared to a homogeneous steel beam. This Light Construction technique is also suitable for prefabrication, industrial construction and passive house technology. Because we deliver a complete system with IT-based construction help together with labeled and customized deliveries, there will be substantial benefits, both in terms of material use, energy consumption and time,” concludes Andersson.

The article was published in August 2011