Benefits of building with zinc and example

Benefits of building with zinc and example

Zinc is an abundant, lightweight and shiny metal which has long been used in construction for roofs and vertical cladding. It is perhaps most extensively used in Paris, where the majority of roofs have been zinc since Napoleonic times. It’s currently becoming more popular for civic and corporate buildings that need to last a long time, as well as increasingly for homes as its sustainability benefits gain prominence.

Benefits of building with zinc

Lloyd Close eco-house with zinc roof

  • Very durable
    Zinc roofs can last more than 100 years because it doesn’t rust, instead it ‘heals’ itself with a protective patina that comes back after scratching. It’s formally known as zinc hydroxyl-carbonate. By comparison, clay or concrete tiles are expected to last 60 years. Because of the protective patina, zinc is not sensitive to rust or UV and is very low maintenance. This counteracts the high initial cost.
  • Non-toxic
    Zinc is a fungistat that prevents build-up of mould or moss and its water runoff is not toxic to plants, unlike copper which is fungicidal but also harmful to plants. Illustrating its lack of toxicity, zinc is actually a micro-nutrient, present in the bodies of people and animals and required in small quantities for optimum health.
  • Sustainable
    While not renewable, this finite metal is extremely abundant compared with other resources. In fact it’s the 24th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. Estimated zinc ore reserves are 34 million tonnes, enough for 700 years at  present rates, not taking recycling into account. And it is almost entirely recyclable, so with smart circular economy processes we should be able to make it last indefinitely. Even mining and processing zinc ore is much less energy-intensive than other metals because it is lightweight and has a low melting point. As VMZINC, a leading zinc supplier, tells ArchDaily:

    “A big sustainability advantage for zinc over other metals is that it takes much less energy to refine zinc than aluminum, copper, or stainless steel. For instance, the energy required to produce zinc from ore is a quarter of that needed to make aluminum and half of that needed for copper and steel.”

  • Very flexible
    Zinc can be cut, curved and folded to produce interesting shapes – one of the properties which has made it so popular with architects. It’s very malleable, lightweight and soft, yet also strong. Suitable for all roof pitches between 5% – 90%.
  • Aesthetics
    Undoubtedly a key reason for zinc’s popularity is its natural beauty. The material is a smooth and shiny silvery colour. As it weathers, it develops an attractive dappled patina (which also protects it, see above). Alternatively you can buy it pre-weathered or coloured, allowing even more creative designs with two or more shades.

Examples of building with zinc

 Oakdene passivhas with zinc roof

Projects using zinc designed by Koru Architects

For the reasons above, we often utilise zinc for roofing of our projects. Here’s three examples.

Lloyd Close
This award-winning zero-carbon detached house and studio is our director’s home and also houses the Koru Architects company office.

Winner of the RIBA Downland Prize 2011 and the Green Apple Award for Architecture 2016. Natural materials which are low in embodied energy have been used throughout, including hemp insulation, oak cladding, zinc roofing and lime render. The living room roof also features a green sedum roof.

Oakdene Passivhaus
This detached rural home built to passivhaus standards sits on an agricultural smallholding in the Sussex countryside. The house is constructed from natural materials low in embodied energy including local Sussex sandstone, Sweet Chestnut timber cladding, zinc roofing and sheep’s wool insulation.

36 Comments

  1. Reply

    This is really good. Thanks for the update

  2. Reply

    nice post

  3. Reply

    Wow interesting. That’s good to hear

  4. Reply

    Nice write up

  5. Reply

    Thanks for the information

  6. Reply

    Nice information

  7. Reply

    Very informative

  8. Reply

    Very informative

  9. Reply

    Lovely information

  10. Reply

    This is good, nice post

  11. Reply

    Awesome thanks for sharing

  12. Reply

    Good

  13. Reply

    Great

  14. Reply

    Very informative

  15. Profile photo ofSommycruz

    Reply

    Looks sharp

  16. Reply

    Zinc has been proven to be more durable and fancible. It’s benefits are so much more. Kudos

  17. Reply

    This is really beneficial indeed

  18. Reply

    Good article

  19. Reply

    Good article

  20. Reply

    It is excellent when it comes to durability

  21. Reply

    Nice post

  22. Reply

    Good

  23. Reply

    Nice info

  24. Reply

    nice

  25. Reply

    Nice info

  26. Reply

    Zinc is really good for housing

  27. Reply

    Nice

  28. Reply

    Very informative

  29. Reply

    Nice info

  30. Reply

    If someone did not use zinc on their building, what else can they use? Thatched roof???

  31. Reply

    Informative

  32. Reply

    A very nice post
    This article is really amazing

  33. Reply

    Nice info

  34. Reply

    Great info

  35. Reply

    Nice
    Thanks for sharing

  36. Reply

    Nice

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