Monumental was into sustainable building and construction far before it was cool. As a U.S.-based, family-owned business, it always made sense to us to create window and door products with quality that lasts. In the decades since we’ve come to be known for our innovation and dedication to our craft. All Monumental Doors and Windows are crafted with thermally broken aluminum, and as proud manufacturers, we want to tell you why.
Aluminum: The Sustainable Metal
Aluminum stands out as one of the most sustainable metal options in construction and manufacturing for several reasons. These include its impressive life cycle, recyclability, energy efficiency, and environmental impact. These characteristics all make aluminum a standout choice. It is a sustainable material that can meet the demands of modern buildings while still minimizing their ecological footprint.
Abundant Raw Material
Aluminum is the third most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, making up about 8% of the planet’s solid surface. Bauxite, an ore rich in aluminum, is the primary source of aluminum production. The widespread availability of bauxite ensures a long-term and sustainable supply of raw materials for aluminum manufacturing.
Energy Efficiency in Production
The primary production of aluminum involves the extraction of aluminum oxide from bauxite through a process called the Bayer process. This is followed by the Hall-Héroult process, which electrolyzes aluminum oxide into aluminum and oxygen.
While this process requires a substantial amount of energy, advancements in technology and the use of renewable energy sources have significantly improved the energy efficiency of aluminum production. Modern smelters are increasingly powered by renewable energy, such as hydroelectric or solar power, reducing the environmental impact of aluminum production.
One of the key sustainability features of aluminum is its ability to be recycled repeatedly without compromising its quality. Recycling aluminum requires only a fraction of the energy needed for primary production, saving up to 95% of the energy compared to the extraction of aluminum from bauxite. This high recyclability rate makes aluminum a closed-loop material, contributing to the circular economy and reducing the demand for primary raw materials.
Aluminum is known for its low density and high strength-to-weight ratio. Its lightweight properties make it an ideal choice for various applications in construction and manufacturing.
The use of aluminum in transportation, such as automotive and aerospace industries, reduces fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. In buildings, lightweight aluminum components ease construction and transportation, leading to lower overall environmental impact.
Durability and Corrosion Resistance
Aluminum exhibits excellent durability and corrosion resistance, contributing to the longevity of structures and products. The longevity of aluminum products reduces the need for frequent replacements and repairs, minimizing resource consumption and waste generation over time. This durability makes aluminum an attractive option for sustainable building materials, where longevity is a crucial factor in assessing environmental impact. It was an easy choice for Monumental.
Low Carbon Footprint
The production of aluminum, especially when using renewable energy sources, results in a relatively low carbon footprint. As industries worldwide strive to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, the low-carbon nature of aluminum contributes to meeting sustainability goals and addressing climate change concerns.
The aluminum industry embraces closed-loop recycling systems, where end-of-life aluminum products are collected, processed, and recycled back into new products. This closed-loop approach ensures that the majority of aluminum remains within the production cycle, reducing the need for continuous extraction of raw materials and minimizing environmental impact.
Aluminum’s sustainability stems from its:
- Energy-efficient production
- High recyclability
- Lightweight properties
- Low carbon footprint
As industries continue to prioritize environmental responsibility, the use of aluminum in construction and manufacturing will likely continue to grow. It serves as a model for sustainable material choices in the pursuit of a more ecologically conscious future: one Monumental firmly believes in.
What is Thermally Broken Aluminum?
Thermally broken aluminum is an advanced architectural and construction solution designed to enhance the energy efficiency of buildings. In traditional aluminum structures, heat can easily transfer between the interior and exterior surfaces, leading to potential energy inefficiencies.
Thermally broken aluminum addresses this challenge by incorporating a non-metallic, insulating material—commonly a polyamide strip—within the aluminum framework. This strategically placed thermal barrier interrupts the direct flow of heat, minimizing thermal conductivity and significantly improving the overall insulation performance of the material.
The introduction of thermal breaks not only enhances the energy efficiency of aluminum structures but also helps prevent issues such as condensation, making it an increasingly popular choice for sustainable and high-performance building designs. This innovation allows architects and builders to strike a balance between strength, versatility, and environmental responsibility in construction projects.
An innovative development in aluminum construction is the incorporation of thermal breaks in aluminum profiles. Thermally broken aluminum refers to a design that minimizes the transfer of heat or cold between the interior and exterior surfaces of the metal.
This is achieved by inserting a non-metallic, insulating material (often a polyamide strip) within the aluminum frame. This thermal barrier enhances the energy efficiency of buildings by reducing heat conduction and increasing insulation performance.
Improved Energy Performance
Thermal breaks address a longstanding concern associated with aluminum structures—thermal conductivity. Uninterrupted aluminum frames can allow the transfer of heat, potentially leading to energy inefficiencies. However, by introducing thermal breaks, the overall thermal performance of aluminum structures is significantly enhanced.
This is particularly crucial in regions with extreme temperature variations, where maintaining a comfortable indoor environment necessitates effective insulation. Many of Monumental’s products are used in buildings and homes in regions such as Palm Desert. Extreme fluctuations in temperature make thermally broken aluminum an ideal building material.
Compliance with Energy Codes
As energy efficiency standards become more stringent globally, the use of thermally broken aluminum has become a preferred choice for architects and builders aiming to meet or exceed regulatory requirements. Thermal breaks enable aluminum to compete with traditional materials like wood and PVC in terms of energy performance, making it a versatile and sustainable option across diverse climates and building types. It also simply lasts longer.
Thermal breaks not only reduce heat transfer but also help prevent condensation on the interior surface of aluminum profiles. Condensation can lead to issues such as mold growth and degradation of building materials. By mitigating condensation risks, thermally broken aluminum contributes to the overall health and durability of structures, aligning with sustainable construction practices.
Versatility in Design
Thermally broken aluminum systems offer designers flexibility in creating aesthetically pleasing and energy-efficient structures. The combination of sustainability, strength, and design versatility makes thermally broken aluminum an attractive choice for a wide range of applications, from residential and commercial buildings to industrial facilities. All of Monumental’s products are customizable for the client.
Incorporating thermal breaks into aluminum profiles represents a commitment to both sustainability and energy efficiency in construction. As the industry continues to evolve, the integration of thermally broken aluminum showcases a dedication to meeting and surpassing modern environmental and regulatory standards, ensuring that aluminum remains a frontrunner in the realm of sustainable building materials.
Aluminum vs. Wood and Other Choices
Aluminum is our preferred material for framing windows and doors for several reasons, making it a better option than wood and other popular choices.
One key advantage is its exceptional strength-to-weight ratio. Aluminum is lightweight yet incredibly sturdy, allowing for slim and elegant profiles in window and door frames without compromising structural integrity. This characteristic facilitates larger and more expansive window designs, offering unobstructed views and increased natural light in architectural spaces.
Aluminum is highly resistant to corrosion and rust, making it an ideal choice for exterior applications where exposure to the elements is a concern. This durability ensures that aluminum frames maintain their appearance and functionality over time, requiring minimal maintenance compared to wood, which can warp, rot, or be susceptible to insect damage.
Another significant advantage of aluminum is its malleability and flexibility in manufacturing. It can be easily extruded into complex shapes and profiles, enabling our architects and designers to create innovative and aesthetically pleasing window and door designs. This versatility also allows for a range of finishing options, including anodizing and powder coating, providing a durable and attractive finish that enhances the overall aesthetic of the building. We offer many custom colors and finishes at Monumental.
Aluminum is also known for its sustainability. It is a highly recyclable material, and the recycling process requires only a fraction of the energy needed to produce new aluminum. This makes aluminum frames an environmentally friendly choice, aligning with the growing demand for sustainable building practices.
In summary, the lightweight strength, corrosion resistance, design flexibility, low maintenance requirements, and sustainability make aluminum a superior option for framing windows and doors when compared to wood and other materials. These characteristics contribute to the popularity of aluminum in modern architectural applications. It also makes it a no-brainer for us.