What Makes Steel a Green Building Material?

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April 14, 2015

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 environmentally friendly building product?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

green buildingThe battle cry of the environmentalists is “reduce, reuse, recycle.” This credo should apply to all aspects of modern living, including new eco-friendly building 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, eco-friendly 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 that steel, eco-friendly buildings made with environmentally friendly building products 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’s list of environmentally friendly building products with an automatic minimum default for its high recycled content.
  • Steel is the only material that can be recycled endlessly without losing any of its strength, great for eco-friendly building construction.
  • Steel is recycled far more than any other substance on Earth. In fact, more steel is recycled each year than all other materials combined.
  • North American steel manufacturers have been recycling steel for over 150 years.
  • Recycling steel is actually cheaper to produce than virgin steel.
  • Steel separates from other waste materials easily and economically. Its magmatic properties allow electromagnets to pull it from mixed waste efficiently.
  • A ton of steel is recycled into new steel in less than a single man-hour.
  • Every ton of recycled steel produced saves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal, and 120 pounds of limestone— and 10,900,000 Btu’s of energy— over creating virgin steel.
  • According to the Steel Recycling Institute, steel recycling saves enough energy to power 18,000,000 homes for twelve months.
  • Producing recycled steel over virgin steel reduces water use by 40%, air pollution by 86%, and mining waste by 97%.
  • At the end of a steel building’s lifecycle, the framing is sold to a scrap metal dealer to be recycled again into new steel for cars, trucks, refrigerators, ships, bridges, railroad cars, or even more eco-friendly buildings.

RHINO Steel Buildings: Recycled Red-Iron for a Green Building

RHINO’s commercial-grade steel buildings boast up to 90.7% recycled steel content. Our clients use RHINO for all sorts of commercial, agricultural, residential, storage, industrial, and aviation applications.

Call RHINO now, toll-free, at 888.320.7466. Let our experienced steel building specialists answer your questions and tell you about our environmentally friendly building products. We will be happy to give you a free quote on your eco-friendly building construction project.

- by Bruce Brown,
CEO of RHINO
Steel Building Systems, Inc

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