Sustainable development in the economic, social and environmental sectors is influenced to a considerable extent by the building sector. This sector is the focus of political attention, particularly in the area of ecology, due to its large share of energy and material flows, so that life cycle assessment has become an integral part of the sustainability assessment of buildings. The building envelope, which is predominantly constructed with lightweight metal building elements, especially in industrial and commercial buildings, can make an important contribution to the sustainability of a building if the construction is designed in accordance with the cycle and the energy quality is high.

For quantifiable assessment of the ecology, Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are available for profiled sheets and sandwich elements with information on environmental impacts over the entire life cycle. The methods of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Life Cycle Costing (LCC) can be used as important building blocks of the sustainability assessment to compare aspects of material and resource efficiency of different construction methods. The deconstruction and recycling potential as well as the reusability of the materials of lightweight metal construction have a positive influence on the overall balance.

The energy efficiency of the building envelope also plays a dominant role in the sustainability assessment of buildings, as it has a significant influence on the results of the life cycle assessment. Sandwich elements, for example, are absolutely airtight in the area of the metal face sheets, can achieve very high thermal insulation due to the low thermal conductivity of the thermal insulation material and thus contribute to the construction of energy-efficient and sustainable buildings.

In the future, it will be necessary to optimise the ecological, economic and social qualities of lightweight metal construction, taking into account the entire life cycle. This current task for lightweight construction with metal is summarised here under the term “sustainability”.

The Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) of PPA-Europe are curently being updated. A new edition will be released by the end of this year. The four EPDs are dealing with:

  • double skin steel faced sandwich panels with a core made of mineral wool,
  • double skin steel faced sandwich panels with a core made of polyurethane,
  • profiled sheets made of steel for roof, wall, deck and ceiling constructions,
  • profiled sheets made of aluminium for roof, wall and ceiling constructions.

These are average EPDs based on input data submitted by different manufacturers which are members of PPA-Europe. In each EPD, there is a list of participating companies.