Rhino Steel Buildings Blog

Recycling Construction and Demolition Debris- Part 1

Introduction to Construction and Demolition Waste in the U.S.

Disposing of construction and demolition (C&D) rubble creates an enormous problem in the U.S. Finding room for all that waste is a monumental task.

How Much C&D Debris is Produced?

In an earlier post, we discussed the 251 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated annually in the U.S. However, that appalling figure does not include construction and demolition waste.

C and D Waste 02Approximations vary wildly on the total amount of construction and demolition waste. Many states do not supply C&D data. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not confirm the data supplied by the states that do offer waste statistics.

However, conservative estimates put American construction and demolition waste approaching 460 million tons annually— almost double the amount of MSW. That is up from 160 million tons of C&D waste in 2003.

However much C&D waste is actually created, the majority of it winds up dumped into landfills.

What Is Included in C&D Waste?

Construction and demolition waste includes bulky materials like:

• Asphalt • Brick • Carpeting and flooring • Concrete • Corrugated cardboard • Electrical materials • Glass • Gypsum from drywall • Insulation • Lumber, plywood and paneling • Paving material • Plastics • Plumbing pipe and fixtures • Rocks • Shingles • Soil • Metals including steel, aluminum and copper • Tree stumps and site rubble • Vinyl siding

Reuse and Recycling C&D Debris

“Deconstruction” dismantles a structure piece by piece, rather than smashing the structure down with a wrecking ball or heavy equipment.

Many materials— like steel and other metals, untreated lumber, asphalt, concrete, roofing, and wallboard— can be saved and recycled at other facilities.

Steel is particularly easy to recycle. Its magnetic qualities separating steel from other C&D debris easy and economical.

Make your next building a green building framed with environmentally friendly, … Read more »

Memorial Day: Recreation and Remembrance

Honoring Those Americans Who Gave All for Our Freedom

It is the eve of the Memorial Day Weekend, marking the start of the summer season. People are busy with plans for family picnics, camp-outs, boating, three-day vacations, shopping holiday sales, or just chilling out.

But Memorial Day should mean so much more.

Memorial DayMemorial Day was intended as a day to honor those who died in the service of their country.

The Origins of Memorial Day

Many communities across the U.S. had individual days designated for cleaning up cemeteries and remembering the fallen. However, widespread recognition did not begin until 1865, when the federal government started establishing national cemeteries for fallen Union soldiers.

More than 600,000 soldiers died during the Civil War. Both sides honored their dead in local ceremonies.

General John A. Logan, commander-in-chief of the Union’s veteran organization the Grand Army of the Republic, called for a nationwide observance. On May 5, 1868, Logan issued a proclamation declaring May 30 as “Decoration Day.” On that day, the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers were decorated with flowers and ribbons at Arlington National Cemetery. Five thousand people participated in the effort to adorn the 20,000 graves.

In 1967, Congress officially changed the name of Decoration Day to Memorial Day.

In 1971, Congress passed the National Holiday Act, which moved the dates of four holidays— Columbus Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day— to form three-day weekends. Now Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May.

Shifting Memorial Day succeeded in turning what was once a day of remembrance and appreciation into an excuse for a three-day weekend blowout.

Traditions of Memorial Day

Thousands still volunteer to place flowers and flags on the graves of soldiers and sailors every Memorial Day.

American flags fly at half-mast … Read more »

Is Steel a Sustainable Building Material?

Steel Buildings Help Preserve Our Resources for Future Generations

To meet the criteria for green building, a product needs to be “sustainable.” But what does sustainable mean?

Sustainable SteelSustainable building materials minimize environmental impacts while maximizing efficient use. Sustainability meets present needs without sacrificing future needs.

Most natural resources are finite. If we squander those resources today, we compromise the lives and options of future generations.

Sustainable Characteristics of Steel

Steel’s two main ingredients are iron and recycled steel.

Iron is one of the Earth’s most plentiful elements. However, the real secret of steel’s sustainability is its amazing recycling abilities:

  • Steel is 100% recyclable.
  • Modern steel processing allows for an extremely high recycled content.
  • Steel loses none of its qualities or strength— no matter how many times it is recycled.
  • There is potentially no limit to how many times steel can be recycled.
  • Once steel is produced, it becomes a permanent resource for new steel.
  • About 98% of all steel is collected for recycling.
  • Creating new steel from recycled steel drastically cuts energy usage.
  • Magnetic separation makes steel simple and economical to recycle.

A product must have at least 25% recycled content to be considered a “green” material. All structural steel today contains a high recycled content. RHINO steel building framing contains as much as 90.7% recycled content. The LEED system (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) awards structural steel its maximum numerical rating.

Steel: Minimizing Environmental Impacts

The steel industry has made amazing strides in minimizing the environmental impacts of steel production.

  • Today’s steel is 40% stronger than steel produced just 25 years ago.
  • Producing steel today uses 67% less energy than it did 35 years ago.
  • Greenhouse emissions for steel production are 45% less than 40 years ago.
  • Today, 95% of all water used in steel production is recycled. Now … Read more »

Confessions of a Reluctant Tree Hugger

How a Steel Building Man Became a Tree Lover

After spending my entire career in the steel building business, I never expected to become a “tree hugger.” After all, wood framing is the natural nemesis of metal buildings. Yet the truth can no longer be ignored. I have become a closet tree lover.

Trees Are Air-Scrubbing Wonders

Tree huggerTrees are living, growing, breathing things. That is the whole point. As long as they remain alive and growing, they continue to benefit us all. Once chopped down and hauled away to the mill, they become structural fuel for fire, termites, mold— and ultimately landfill fodder.

Left alone to grow and mature, trees actually clean our atmosphere. Trees breathe in carbon dioxide from our polluted air and breathe out life-sustaining oxygen into our atmosphere. The more trees we have on the planet, the better our air quality becomes.

According to the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, a single tree absorbs 40 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. Experts estimate U.S. forests remove over 1.5 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide in a single year. That alone is reason enough to love trees— and hate their destruction.

According to the World Wildlife organization, 58,000 square miles of forest are destroyed each year. That is about 36 football field-sized forests EVERY MINUTE!

Deforestation taking away our single greatest asset in combating air pollution. It is also screwing with animal and insect populations and bio-diversity in irreparable ways.

Wood Framing vs. Steel Framing

Don’t get me wrong. I still believe pre-engineered steel buildings are far superior to wood-framed structures. There is a great difference between loving trees and loving wood building.

The evidence remains clear:

Recycling Saves Energy

Double the Benefits: Stretch Resources and Conserve Energy

Recycling reuses materials wisely. It is resource efficient. By recycling, we get more use from a material, avoiding dumping the material in a landfill— and conserve precious energy while we are doing it.

Save Energy by RecyclingHow Does Recycling Save Energy?

Every raw material requires energy to be turned into a product. Producing consumer goods from virgin raw materials uses a lot of energy resources. Processing goods from recycled materials requires far less energy.

Recycled materials have been processed at least once. Turning recycled materials into new products is not only cleaner than using raw materials, it also demands far less energy.

Let us look at specific examples of energy savings possible with recycled materials.


  • The U.S. produces nearly 3.5 billion tons of aluminum each year.
  • America recycles 100,000 aluminum cans per minute.
  • Only 45% of aluminum cans are currently being recovered for recycling. If ALL the aluminum cans used annually were recycled, we would save enough energy to light Washington D.C. for 3.7 years!
  • The aluminum cans produce in the U.S. in just one year, if laid end-to-end, could circle the globe— 169 times!
  • It takes 95% less energy to produce an aluminum soda can from recycled cans than from raw material.
  • Every ton of aluminum recycled saves 237.6 million Btu’s of energy, 40 barrels of oil, 270 cubic feet of landfill space— and prevents 10 tons of carbon emissions.


  • Today, 75% of all old newspapers are recycled in the U.S. — about 12.4 million tons per year.
  • Recycled newsprint makes up 30% of newspapers.
  • Recycled newspapers are also used to create other products, including cereal boxes, egg cartons, grocery bags, insulation, tissue paper, and other packaging and products.
  • Newsprint can be recycled four times before the fiber breaks down too … Read more »

Trash Talk: America’s Municipal Solid Waste

3 Easy Ways to Improve Our Planet— and Your Pocketbook

Americans generate a shocking amount of trash— municipal solid waste (MSW) — 4.4 pounds per person every day!

American LandfillAccording to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we create 251 million tons of MSW every year— most of which ends up in landfills.

What Is Included in Municipal Solid Waste Estimates?

Basically, MSW is our everyday garbage. It consists mostly of:

• Batteries • Bottles • Broken appliances • Cast-off furniture • Discarded food scraps • Disposable diapers and wipes • Fast food containers • Grass clippings • Newspapers, magazines, and junk mail • Paint • Paper goods like papers towels, disposable diapers, paper plates, etc. • Product packaging and containers

MSW figures do NOT contain industrial waste, construction and demolition (C&D) debris, wrecked cars, or hazardous materials.

Greed Breeds Garbage

Over the decades, Americans have gradually morphed into super-consumers. From 1975 to 2000, U.S. consumption of goods increased a monstrous 57%! According to EPA figures, the U.S. devours about 33% of the world’s total material consumption— yet Americans represent only 5% of the global population.

We buy more and more products, which all produce more and more garbage. The more we buy and discard, the greater the impact on our environment:

  • Tropical forests are vanishing at a rate of one-acre-per-second.
  • Since 1970, worldwide greenhouse gas emissions have skyrocketed 70%.
  • Many experts believe increased greenhouse gas levels are attributing to global warming.
  • Habitat destruction continues to cause the extinction of entire species.
  • The accumulative effects of noxious, toxic chemicals are now found throughout the food chain.
Trimming the Trash

While all these wasteful facts are appalling, there is good news in the battle for a better environment.

Thirty years ago, the environmental movement consisted of a handful of green activists, labeled “tree huggers.” Today, eco-friendly practices have spread to mainstream America. More and more people are taking responsibility for their … Read more »

Indoor Air Quality and Productivity

Healthy Workers Are Productive Workers

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes as many as 30% of new or renovated structures have serious indoor air quality issues. That is an alarming statistic, since Americans spend 90% of their lives indoors.

Indoor air quality can actually be many times worse than outdoor air on a smoggy day.

Productivity and IAQLiterally thousands of pollutants found indoors are known to impact health. Indoor pollution may negatively affect vision, hearing, growth, intelligence, learning, respiration, and heart function. Some pollutants are also carcinogenic.

The High Cost of Poor IAQ

Compromised indoor air quality (IAQ) costs American businesses an estimated $300 billion a year in lost productivity and profits.

Poor IAQ racks up $30 billion every year in health care costs alone. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) places a $15 billion annual price tag on sick leave paid to workers suffering from bad indoor air quality.

Studies have found improved IAQ boosts employee productivity by 6%-10%!

Lost revenues and productivity are just part of the picture. Contaminated indoor air quality may bring lawsuits, compensation claims, and damage claims against a business, further eroding the bottom line.

Be Proactive: Enhance IAQ in Business

The best defense against IAQ losses is offense. Consider these actions:

  • Have a plan in place for evaluating and fixing any IAQ complaints.
  • If leasing, be sure your lease contains clear-cut IAQ guidelines. Notify building management immediately when an IAQ issue arises.
  • Choose “green label” products with low volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions for all building, remodeling, or renovating.
  • Use exhaust fans to disperse contaminants at the source.
  • Keep the temperature and humidity levels comfortable.
  • Keep all surfaces and HVAC systems clean. Change HVAC filters regularly. Use high-performance filters.
  • Keep chemicals to a minimum. Use healthier, non-toxic cleaning products. Choose non-chemical solutions for pest … Read more »

How Indoor Air Quality Affects Your Health

Reducing Pollutants in Homes and Businesses Improves Well-being

Green building products should impact the environment around us— and indoor air quality— as little as possible. The goal must be to reduce pollutants outdoors and indoors.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers indoor air quality (IAQ) even more critical to overall health than pollution in the atmosphere. An EPA study found harmful indoor pollutants could be up to 100 times greater than those outdoors.

Indoor Air QualityWhy Indoor Air Quality Matters

Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). You spend 21.6 hours every day inside school, work, home, restaurants, shopping locations, businesses, churches, indoor recreational and sports facilities, and other structures.

Those figures do not include the time you spend inside your car. A Harvard study estimates adult Americans drive 1.7 hours each day driving.

So on average, adult Americans are enclosed in buildings or cars 23.3 hours out of 24.

Sick Building Syndrome

Health problems caused by poor indoor air quality are often mistaken for symptoms of colds, flu, allergies, or stress. Other symptoms of compromised IAQ could include:

• Acute headaches • Depression • Dizziness • Dry coughs • Fatigue • Fever and chills • Lung, throat, nose, or eye irritations • Muscle pain • Nausea • Rashes and dermatitis

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an illness might the result of poor indoor air quality if the symptoms disappear when you leave the building— especially over the weekend of on vacation. If the symptoms reappear when you return to the building, suspect an IAQ problem.

People with allergies, asthma, chemical sensitivities, emphysema or other respiratory problems are the most vulnerable to indoor air pollutants. Children and the elderly often suffer first.

The EPA uses the term “sick building syndrome” … Read more »

How to Construct Energy-Efficient Buildings- Part 2

Energy-Saving Choices for Pre-engineered Steel Buildings

In part one of this series, we discovered energy-efficient buildings must start with a tight building envelope. To further reduce energy consumption— and reduce energy costs—choose energy-saving building products that diminish air infiltration.

Sealing the Envelope with Energy-Saving Products

A square, tightly formed building envelope begins with the frame, like a rigid-frame pre-engineered steel building. However, high-performance energy-efficient buildings also require sufficient insulation, insulated windows and doors, proper ventilation, and eco-friendly exteriors to help seal the building envelope.

Energy Efficent BuildingsINSULATION. The insulation package is the most important factor in energy-efficient buildings. Without sufficient insulation, huge amounts of energy— and money— are simply wasted.

Even structures without heating and air conditioning— like barns or storage buildings— are more comfortable when insulated.

Rigid-frame steel buildings create deep wall cavities. This allows the use of much thicker, more energy-efficient insulation without any compression.

RHINO’s optional Pro-Value Insulation Packages contain economical fiberglass insulation up to nine-and-a-half inches thick (R-30) for walls and twelve inches thick (R-38) for the roof.

In addition, the Pro-Value Insulation Package includes a second layer of insulation, which acts as a thermal break— and an extra-strong fabric vapor barrier. Our buyers report the Pro-Value system cuts their energy bill by fifty percent.

ROOFING. All RHINO buildings use purlin bearing roof (PBR) panels. PBR panels provide more overlap between panels for a stronger, tighter seal.

Choosing a white metal roof over a darker color makes a significant difference in energy consumption in hot southern climates.

Even greater benefits come with cool-coated steel roofing. Cool-coated roofs reflect forty to fifty percent of the … Read more »

How to Construct Energy-Efficient Buildings- Part 1

Tight, Energy-Conserving Building Envelopes Start with Steel

In existing buildings, employing energy reducing strategies save resources— but it is even better to construct energy-efficient buildings in the first place.

Pre-engineered steel buildings create tight, rigid, leak-resistant building envelopes.

The Envelope, Please…

Steel Building EnvelopeThe building “envelope” is the part of the structure separating indoors from outdoors. The envelope includes the roof, outside walls, and foundation.

The goal is to build a close-fitting envelope, free of air leaks and drafts. It should reduce the effect of the outside climate on inside temperatures. The building envelope also needs to effectively shed water and dry quickly, to avoid rot and mold.

To avoid needlessly wasting energy, the building envelope must not only be built close fitting, but also remain tight throughout the building’s lifetime.

Sealing the Envelope: Wood vs. Steel

Wood-framed buildings rarely go up completely straight or square.

Wood-framed structures start with imperfect lumber. An organic material, wood changes shape as the moisture content in the air varies.

Each axis of a wood stud— width, depth, and length— expands and contracts at different rates as moisture change. Consequently, lumber bends and twists. Wood builders must reject 15%-20% of the lumber delivered, due to warping, splitting, bowing, or other flaws.

After construction, wood framing members continue to move as humidity fluctuates. Builders call this process “creep.” Nails and staples start to work out. Long spans across the roof or over garage doors sag. Windows and doors fail to close properly. As the building envelope loosens, drafts develop, stealing building energy.

In a pre-engineered steel building, the primary and secondary framing— column beams, rafter beams, girts, and purlins— creates the skeleton of the building envelope.

Manufactured to exacting specifications in quality-controlled factories, steel framing components are straight and rigid— and … Read more »

50 Ways to Cut Energy Costs in Buildings

Simple Strategies to Reduce Energy Consumption and Operating Costs

We all need to cut energy costs. Reducing energy consumption saves us money— and it is the right thing to do for our country and the world.

Slashing energy consumption in buildings is a great way to start conservation efforts. Buildings are a huge energy drain. Buildings suck up 40% of all energy used in America— and account for over 73% of all electricity consumed in the U.S.

Cut Energy CostsDoes that shock you? It should. Even more appalling, experts estimate 30%-50% of the energy devoured by commercial buildings is wasted energy.

Conserve Energy and Cut Costs

Simple changes can reduce or eliminate wasted energy at home— and at work.

Start at the top. A white or light colored roof makes an incredible difference in energy usage. With an outside temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a white roof is 80 degrees cooler than a black roof. Light colored roofing actually last longer, too. Adding a reflective coating further cools the roof surface in hotter climates. Consider replacing roofing with highly reflective cool-coated metal roofing.

Reduce air leaks. Replace windows with high-performance windows. Seal tightly around all windows and doors.

Power down. Unplug seldom-used appliances. Use power strips for computers and peripherals and turn off the strips when not in use. Unplug battery chargers for phones, tablets, PDA’s, cameras, and other electronics when not in use. Set your computer to sleep mode, so that an inactive screen goes dark instead of wasting power with a screen saver. Invest in energy-saving electronics, office equipment, heating and air conditioning systems, and appliances when they need replacing. … Read more »

Steel Buildings in WEST VIRGINIA

Metal Buildings Bridge the Gap for Construction in the Mountain State

Pre-engineered steel buildings in West Virginia find an audience who already appreciates steel construction. The greatest project ever developed in West Virginia would have been impossible without steel.

metal-buildings-W VANew River Gorge Bridge: The Pride of West Virginia

A triumph of engineering and steel construction, the New River Gorge Bridge spans the chasm over the river. When it opened in 1977, it was the highest vehicle bridge in the world.

The stats on the awesome steel arch bridge are impressive:

  • Over 16,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily.
  • The bridge runs 3,030 feet in length.
  • The longest span is 1,700 feet.
  • The roadway hangs 876 feet above the gorge floor.
  • The bridge framing required over 88 million pounds of steel.
  • The bridge cuts travel from one side of the gorge to the other from 45 minutes to 45 seconds.
  • Guided bridge-walks allowed on the steel catwalk underneath the roadway.

West Virginia QuarterWest Virginians are so proud of the New River Gorge Bridge, they chose it to grace their commemorative state quarter in 2005.

The Benefits of Pre-engineered Metal Buildings in West Virginia

Only steel provides the strength to span gorges. That same strength allows pre-engineered steel buildings to span farther, too.

No other building material can compete with the clear span capabilities of steel. Steel’s strength allows for open, unobstructed building interiors.

Churches, warehouses, aircraft hangars, pavilions, equestrian arenas, big-box stores, gymnasiums, recreational facilities, and other structures enjoy the open spaces afforded by steel.

However, clear span interiors are just one of the many benefits enjoyed by owners of steel buildings in West Virginia.

RHINO’s prefabricated steel buildings are:

  • 100% recyclable.
  • Affordable to buy.
  • Affordable to operate.
  • An environmentally friendly, green building material.
  • Dimensionally stable.
  • Easily expanded.
  • Energy-efficient (with optional … Read more »

What Makes Steel a Green Building Material?

The Environmentally Friendly Characteristics of Today’s Steel

In earlier blogs, we covered what green building is, why green building is important, and how green building saves money.

But what characteristics make steel an eco-friendly building choice?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reduce Reuse RecycleThe battle cry of the environmentalists is “reduce, reuse, recycle.” This credo should apply to all aspects of modern living, including new construction.

REDUCE:  Pre-engineered steel buildings drastically reduce the amount of material required to frame a strong, durable structure. Steel has the strongest strength-to-weight ratio of any construction material. Consequently, it takes far fewer pieces to build a steel frame. Steel buildings also outlast other structures by decades, further reducing the environmental impact.

REUSE:  Generally, “reuse” in environmental terms means using an item repeatedly, rather than discarding it. For example, we can choose reusable shopping bags over disposable paper or plastic bags.

The ways a steel building can be reused are numerous. The versatility of steel buildings makes them easily adaptable to fit many uses over the years. Steel framing can even be disassembled, shipped, and reassembled at a new location— provided the building codes do not change.

RECYCLE:  Recycling is where steel really preforms:

  • According to the U.S. Green Building Council: “Steel as a primary structural building material, with its inherently recyclable nature and its efficiency of assembly, is the logical and responsible choice for Green Building.”
  • The Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program certifies green building projects by a point system. Steel is the only building material in the LEED program with an automatic minimum default … Read more »

Build Green, Save Green

10 Ways Green Building with Steel Saves Money

Many people fear choosing green building will cost too much. Not so.

Build Green Save GreenMany green building materials do marginally increase the initial cost of the building. However, some building systems cost no more than conventional construction. Many eco-friendly choices pay for themselves several times over the lifetime of the structure.

Take prefabricated steel buildings, for example.

The Advantages of Recycled Steel

Building with steel is building green. More steel is recycled than any other material.

Steel has two major advantages over other recycled materials:

1. Steel never loses any strength— no matter how many times it is recycled. No other material can make that claim.

2. Steel’s magnetic qualities make it easy to handle and separate from other materials. Huge electromagnets make locating and moving steel quick and inexpensive. Other recycled materials must be separated from waste materials by hand.

10 Ways to Save by Building with Steel

Prefabricated steel buildings are affordable to build now— and affordable to operate. Look at some of the savings enjoyed by those who build green with steel:

1. ENERGY EFFICIENT OPTIONS: A well-insulated steel building saves thousands of dollars on utility bills over its lifetime. RHINO’s optional Pro-Value Insulation Package, for example, reduces heating and cooling bills by about 50%. Choosing light-colored metal roofing saves more. Selecting optional reflective, cool-coated metal roofing in warm climates slashes utilities another 15%. Installing energy and water saving appliances, natural lighting like skylights, passive solar design, double-pane windows, and insulated doors cuts energy use even further. Landscaping that shades— but requires little irrigation— also helps cut operating costs.

2. … Read more »

10 Tips for Pouring Metal Building Foundations

Constructing a Steel Building on a Firm Foundation

As with any structure, metal building foundations require a firm foundation.

A first-rate concrete slab, pier, or perimeter wall promises solid support for the life of the structure. A cut-rate foundation poured with poor-quality concrete promises nothing but problems.

Don’t Cut Corners on Concrete Foundations

Foundation TipsMany do-it-yourselfers consider themselves capable of pouring their own metal building foundations. They poured the cement for their fence posts, didn’t they? And one summer they helped Uncle Bob pour the floor for his 6’ x 8’ tool shed. So what is the big deal?

The big deal is QUALITY.

Steel buildings are designed, engineered, and manufactured to exact tolerances.

There is no room for error in a metal building.

The foundations for these structures need to be precise in size. The foundation walls must be straight. The slab must be squared. The connections have to align perfectly, so all the framing connects and squares correctly. Corners should be crisp. The tops of the foundations should be level and straight.

For professional results, let a qualified professional concrete contractor do the job.

The local concrete company will have a list of concrete contractors available.

What You Need to Know About Metal Building Foundations

Here are a few tips to consider when pouring slabs, piers, or perimeter walls for steel buildings:

  • Cement and concrete are not the same thing. Cement holds concrete together. Cement, sand, gravel, and water mixed together create concrete.
  • Concrete is purchased by the cubic yard. A concrete engineer determines the amount of concrete needed, based on your metal building plans, the projected weight of vehicles or heavy equipment used in the structure, local soil conditions and Read more »