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So, you’ve decided that steel is the strongest and most economical choice for your next building. But did you know that steel is also the most environmentally friendly building option?
That’s right, steel is 100% recyclable. In fact, it is the most widely recycled material available with more than 650 tons recycled annually. That’s more than every other building material combined. In 2008, more than two-thirds of US steel was made from recycled scrap. Steel can be recycled and endless number of times without losing its properties, so new steel can be made from purely recycled steel. Compare that to wood, which while recyclable, is limited in its post-recycle uses. In 2011, more than 60% of that recycled steel was made using electric arc furnaces, which use less energy than basic oxygen furnaces. That’s part of the reason why, since 1990, the steel industry has been able to reduce its energy usage by more than 30%. Many steel making plants have reduced to zero carbon emissions, and all water used in the process of making steel is recycled.
Steel buildings offer unrivaled sustainability that is affordable in every part of the process. Prefabricated buildings require less energy to make because the process is streamlined. This extends to the building site, where less machinery is required and less energy is used in the erection of the building. Sustainability is tied to durability. Wood will often rot and twist, and can be destroyed by pests, moisture and fire. This requires constant renovation and repair. But the long-term durability of steel buildings and their metal roofing requires much less renovation and repair, so less energy is used over the life of the building. Pests aren’t an issue because steel isn’t organic. Steel buildings don’t burn like wood. Steel doesn’t absorb moisture and doesn’t rust. With less issues, you’ll use less energy to keep your building standing. For every old wooden building filled with dry rot, termite damage, sagging roofing and mold, there is a steel building standing as strong as the first day it was built.
Steel structures are energy efficient inside, too. In most buildings, more than 50% of total energy consumption is used for temperature control. In steel buildings, the absorption of solar heat through metal roofing and granular wall paint saves more than 40% of those costs.
So, if you want to help protect the environment while you build an economically efficient structure, look no further than steel.