Green Building - LEED
Several organizations have developed requirements or criteria for the evaluation of structures and products with respect to sustainability and green building. According to the United Nations, “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Green Building, although it has different meanings to different entities, in its simplest context means “construction in a sustainable manner.” Steel has several aspects that work well in sustainable structures:
- High recycled content (minimum 25% for ALL steel)
- Infinitely recyclable; easy to separate in the recycling stream
- Reduced jobsite waste
- Opportunity for local sourcing
- Durability during life of the structure
- Potential for reuse
- Each year, the North American steel industry recycles millions of tons of steel scrap from recycled cans, appliances, automobiles, and construction materials. This scrap is re-melted to produce new steel.
- 64% of all steel products are recycled – more than any other material in the U.S. including glass, paper, plastic and aluminum, combined.
- Steel recycling programs reduce the solid waste stream, resulting in saved landfill space, and help to conserve our natural resources.
- Steel recycling saves the energy equivalent of electrical power for about one-fifth of U.S. households (or about 18 million homes) for one year.
- Every ton of recycled steel saves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal, and 120 pounds of limestone.
- All cold-formed steel framing contains a minimum of 25% recycled steel.
- Steel Recycling Institute: “Steel Takes LEED® with Recycled Content (.pdf)” 4-page document referenced by the SSMA Technical Note listed above. This gives a detailed explanation of the electric arc furnace (EAF) and basic oxygen furnace (BOF) processes of steelmaking and how recycling is used with each.
- Steel Framing Alliance: “Steel and the Environment (.pdf)” 8-page brochure. In addition to information on LEED, this document contains information on steel’s thermal performance, as well as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), embodied energy, and the use of steel with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and International Code Council (ICC) “National Green Building Standard.”