Sustainable Development, Sustainability – terms that are often heard but often not fully appreciated.
The philosophy is quite simple and is concerned with ensuring a better quality of life for everyone – now and, importantly, for generations to come.
The concept is common sense based on substantial criteria and principles. It sets out to meet four objectives:
• Social progress which recognises the needs of everyone
• Maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment
• Efficient protection of the environment
• Prudent use of natural resources
Enlightened governments of the world have espoused the concept of sustainable development and important initiatives to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to help halt global warming for instance, are well known and documented.
Progress in the development and use of products to enhance our standard of living has brought with it new and potentially damaging pressures on our environment and vulnerable ecological systems. It is at this level that industry globally has a crucial role to play in sustainable development, taking steps to minimise its impact on the environment. Responsible industries are those that will survive and prosper in the future. Those which can fundamentally claim to be sustainable have a distinct advantage.
Sustainable use of Natural Resources
Zinc is the primary raw material in hot dip galvanizing, a process which is simple, clean and cost effective. It is efficient in its use of pre-treatment chemicals and in its use of energy, with all residues of zinc from the dipping process being fully recycled. Furthermore, modern process improvements ensure that even the relatively harmless particulate emissions from the galvanizing process are contained within the plant and filtered.
Whilst zinc ore itself is plentiful, a natural resource mined in Europe, Africa, Australia, Asia Pacific and the Americas, it can be recycled indefinitely without any loss of its chemical or physical properties. At present 30% of zinc used throughout the world is from recycled sources and this figure is rising with increased environmental awareness and improvements in recycling technology.
Galvanized products can be easily recycled as the presence of the zinc coating on steel does not affect its recyclability. Galvanized steel is recycled with other steel scrap in the steel production process; it volatilises early in the process and is collected for reprocessing.
Longevity of Galvanized Structures
A clear measure of an industry’s sustainability must be the longevity of its products. Galvanized steel products offer unsurpassed protection against corrosion. They are maintenance free and eliminate the need for solvent containing paints which release VOCs (volatile organic compounds) during application. Zero solvent = zero VOC, a definite benefit in terms of human health.
Maroondah Dam Victoria
All steel used in a recent upgrade of the dam was hot dip galvanized, including railings and auxiliary steelwork for the spillway to ensure long maintenance-free life, without introducing organic coating materials into the precincts of this important source of drinking water.
Essendon Aquatic Centre Victoria
Apart from providing corrosion protection in a swimming pool environment, the natural colour of the hot dip galvanized coating was used as the architectural finish. An added benefit of using hot dip galvanizing was that no on-site repair of the coating was required after erection.
Haileybury Swimming Pool Victoria
This leading independent school installed a swimming pool complex to FINA standards which included facilities for digital times recording. The pool is designed to 51 metres in length to accommodate the optimum level of use by including a floating cross bulkhead of fibreglass, capable of multipurpose use for differing training lengths and pool divisions for swimming, diving or polo. All steel work was self finish after-fabrication galvanized to meet the severe service where regular maintenance could not be accepted.
Power Transmission Towers Victoria
SECV 220kV transmission towers, part of the Newport to Fishermens Bend major transmission loop system, were erected in 1988. These fully galvanized 90-metre high towers are situated in an industrial mild marine environment only five kilometres west of Melbourne’s CBD. No maintenance has been required to date and based on previous experience, none will be required for many years.