Sustainability of Steel Under 6 Key Points

Sustainability and green energy are becoming more and more vital as time goes on, and steel is a critical material that plays a significant role in both of these areas. When compared to other construction materials, steel has a number of advantages, including increased durability, recyclability, and energy efficiency, as well as a smaller environmental impact in terms of production, maintenance, and energy use.

Higher Durability

Steel is a durable material with excellent corrosion and fire resistance, making it more reliable than other construction materials like wood or concrete in a variety of environments. Structural steel framing does not shrink or deform under load over time and applied coatings can protect it and increase its longevity, even in corrosive environments [1].

Infinite Re-usability

Steel is a highly recyclable material, with 97% of steel by-products being re-used and an overall recycling rate of 81% across all industries with some construction segments even having recycling rates as high as 98% [2]. This makes steel one of the most sustainable materials available because it can be reused indefinitely without losing its strength or quality.

One of the major benefits of steel’s recyclability is that it requires significantly less energy to produce new steel from recycled materials compared to producing steel from raw materials. According to the It takes around 70% less energy to produce steel from recycled materials compared to producing it from raw materials [3] which helps to reduce the carbon footprint of steel production, making it a more sustainable option.

Thermally Efficient

Steel has a high thermal mass, meaning it is able to absorb and store heat energy well compared to other materials [4]. This property can be utilized in building designs to help regulate indoor temperatures and reduce the energy needed for heating and cooling.

Denser Constructions

Steel is an attractive material because it requires a small physical footprint for production, transportation, and use, as well as for the end product. Steel has a high strength-to-weight ratio, which means it can support heavy loads with a minimal amount of material and reduces the physical footprint of building materials, which is important in urban areas or other locations where space is limited.

Low Maintenance

Maintenance is an important factor to consider when selecting materials for construction projects because it can significantly affect the overall lifecycle cost of a building or structure. Steel requires less maintenance and repair than alternative materials, reducing downtime and makes it an attractive option for a wide range of operations [5].

Reduced Energy Consumption

The energy cost of manufacturing refers to the amount of energy needed to produce a material or product. Lowering the energy cost of manufacturing can have many benefits, including cost savings and a smaller environmental impact. Steel has a high recycling rate, which means that producing new steel from recycled materials requires less energy than producing it from raw materials. This leads to a relatively low energy cost for steel compared to other options, making it a desirable choice for many applications.

Role in the Production of Green Energy

Steel is an essential material in the production of green energy and plays a critical role in the construction of wind turbines, solar panels, and other renewable energy systems. These systems help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and lower our carbon emissions, making them an important part of the fight against climate change.

For example, wind turbines are made up of various steel components such as the tower, the blades, and the nacelle (which contains the generator).

Similarly, solar panels, which are used to capture and convert sunlight into electricity, often have steel frames because it is a strong and durable material that can withstand the weight of the panels and the forces of wind and rain.

References

1• Hecke, B. V. (2021, November 16). Stainless Steel: A lifetime of savings. Knowledge for a brighter future. Retrieved from https://nickelinstitute.org/en/blog/2021/november/stainless-steel-a-lifetime-of-savings/

2• Steel is the world’s most recycled material. CSSBI. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://cssbi.ca/mid-rise-construction/sustainable-steel

3• Thermal Mass. (2014, January). Retrieved from https://www.steelconstruction.info/images/0/0f/Steel_construction_-_Thermal_mass.pdf

4• Why is recycling sustainable? Evreka ‘ Why is Recycling Sustainable? (2022, August 23). Retrieved from https://evreka.co/blog/why-is-recycling-sustainable/

5• Why steel / Comparison to other materials. AISC. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.aisc.org/why-steel/resources/comparison-to-other-materials/#27756

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