“Cold, hard steel” is a term familiar to many. The phrase brings to mind different images to various people including skeletal girders, workers hammering or riveting the metal and the sounds produced on a worksite. Perhaps some equate steel with massive, impersonal and unattractive metal structures. Probably not many people equate the man made metal with being one of our most sustainable resources. In terms of versatility and environmental benefits, steel remains one of the most desired construction materials on the planet.
While trees in forests require decades if not hundreds of years before reaching maturity, steel manufacturers produce tons of the metal daily. Constructing steel buildings spares the destruction and diminish of natural resources. Steel also easily melts down enabling the addition of ingredients, remolding and reusing. Being completely recyclable means less space required in landfills.
The steel waste created from building various structures averages around one-tenth compared to using wood as a building material. All of the remaining steel waste is 100 percent recyclable. There are no limits to the number of times this renewal process may occur. Industries recycle more steel daily than any other recyclable material including glass, paper and plastic. Steel maintains its original properties including extreme strength.
Every ton of steel produced uses ⅓ less energy than what manufacturers consumed even two decades ago. Almost all of the water used during steel manufacturing undergoes cleaning and recycling. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, technological advancements developing in the CO2 Breakthrough Program continually strive toward reducing carbon emissions during the steel making process. One of the projects now underway includes replacing carbon with hydrogen as fuel in blast furnaces.
Speed of Construction
Pre engineered steel buildingslighter in weight than concrete or wood making the product more easily handled. Steel structures also require less space than comparable models comprised of concrete, masonry or wood. Manufacturers more commonly construct steel buildings using prefabricated panel sandwiches containing an insulating layer of foam.
Construction workers quickly combine these panels using the tongue-and-groove designs built-in to the panels. Invisible clips, fasteners and other joint sealing devices also provide ease the method of construction without requiring power tools. All of these elements are also recyclable products. The ease of combining panels also offers the opportunity of extending or decreasing building size if necessary. Regardless of the design and style of a building, manufacturers have the capability of creating steel according to specifications.
Besides the insulation contained within steel walls, contractors easily add energy saving windows and doors along with solar energy powered units. When used for roofing or exterior walls, steel reflects the sun thereby reducing absorbed heat. Manufacturers also design cool coatings that enhance the reflection process.
The durability of steel buildings saves money, as they require less maintenance and repairs. Steel does not creep, split or warp like concrete or wood. Drywall mounted on steel framing endures less structural damage over time. The flexibility and strength of the building material also means structures made with steel last longer compared with other conventional building materials. Steel additionally remains resistant to mold, rot and insect infestation.