The environmental impact of structural steel is important when we think about the fact that the building sector is aiming to operate at ‘net-zero carbon’ by 2050. Buildings are currently responsible for 39% of global energy related carbon emissions. Materials and construction count for 11% of this. In this blog post we’ll look at the reasons steel is being used in this journey to reach this goal.
It’s energy efficient
When steel is used for buildings it makes them good insulators of heat and cold, depending on the desired temperature at different times. This means that less energy is used when it comes to heating and cooling a building.
Steel can be prefabricated off-site making the process much more sustainable. The precision and accuracy that comes from this means less waste is produced, and whatever is can be reused.
Steel is recyclable
Steel is the most recycled material in the world. It can be melted down and reused infinite times without degrading or being compromised in any way.
Because steel is constantly recycled and reused, the demand for raw materials is much lower, which decreases the environmental impact.
Steel is a great choice for temporary buildings, seeing as when the building is demolished, all the steel can be easily dismantled and used again. Whatever remains can be used as scrap for producing new steel.
When it comes to steel production water is a very important element. A lot of water is used in the process and does often become contaminated. However, there is a process to filter the water, making 98% of it reusable. ‘Slag’ is also a biproduct of steel production, and this is nearly entirely repurposed for use in cement.
Using structural steel for buildings means strength. This strength can support more insulation, saving on energy costs. Steel can also increase the quality of air inside a building, eradicating potential pollutants. It doesn’t release any harmful gasses. Steel is also unaffected by termites, meaning no harsh chemicals are used to treat it.
In the past few decades, the steel industry has made notable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by becoming more energy efficient. Energy consumption per tonne of steel produced has dropped by 61% in the last 50 years.
Steel will withstand the test of time
Steel has the strength to withstand harsh conditions. Termites are not a risk to steel. It will not crack, rot, or split, and with the proper treatment, will not rust. This means that it will not have to be replaced with anything causing more work, plus whatever has been used before can be used again.
Steel production still has some way to go until we can say that there are no serious environmental impacts, but it is constantly improving. Additionally, the use of steel is essential when it comes to the building industry reaching the goal of operating at net-zero carbon by 2050.