“Sustainability” has been a major construction industry buzzword over the past several years. As North American contractors, engineers and architects have collectively taken a posture of environmental consciousness, steel has become the go-to building material for sustainability.
So, what makes structural steel a sustainable construction material? Here is a brief breakdown of this material’s eco-friendly attributes:
1. Recyclability. According to the AISC, most of the U.S.’s domestically-produced structural steel is now composed of over 90 percent recycled material. Moreover, an estimated 98 percent of all structural steel is recycled back into high-quality, usable steel at the end of a building’s life cycle.
2. Longevity. Speaking of life cycles, structural steel stands head and shoulders over alternative building materials when considering longevity. Because steel is stronger and more ductile than concrete, for example, steel framing requires significantly less (if any) upkeep—which results in longer-lasting buildings.
3. Adaptability. Structural steel members can easily adapt to changes in load conditions, and steel can be modified or expanded much more seamlessly than other building materials. Additionally, steel beams, columns, and other components can be fabricated into new components without needing complete rolling or melting.
4. Lower carbon footprint. Throughout its life cycle, steel maintains a minimal carbon footprint. Today’s steel manufacturing process is discovering new ways to reduce emissions; in fact, overall structural steel mill carbon emissions are down 36 percent since 1990. Plus, U.S. steel production’s estimated water recycling rate is now around 95 percent.
Structural steel also requires shorter timeframes and less manpower to fabricate, transport, and erect than alternative materials. This results in a significantly lower carbon emission rate throughout the steel construction process.
5. Fabrication and construction efficiency. Structural steel construction’s relatively low carbon emission rate is due in part to the material’s efficient fabrication and construction processes. Since steel is typically fabricated in a centralized location, each project requires less employee travel time.
Moreover, today’s steel fabrication processes implement advanced technology that ensures extreme precision—resulting in waste reduction and improved energy efficiency.
With all of the reasons to love steel, sustainability is at the top of our list. Not only does steel provide a strong, adaptable means to structure the built world, but it continues to evolve into a greener construction solution each year thanks to industry research and innovation.
Looking for ways to make your next steel project more sustainable? Reach out to Anatomic Iron Steel Detailing for more about construction efficiencies today!
Cliff Young – VP 510-984-4425
Dave Pye – VP Sales & Estimating 604-628-4899
We look forward to adding value to your next project.