Steel offers sustainability credentials through the whole life-cycle of a building, and is an excellent choice of framing material to deliver high-scoring BREEAM projects. This CPD module, sponsored by Steel for Life, outlines the main points to consider. Click here to take the module. =
A recent survey identified that over 66% of multi-storey, non-domestic buildings are framed in structural steel, making it the preferred framing solution for many of the UK’s structures. An increasing number of these buildings achieve high sustainability ratings and targets.
This CPD article will examine a number of steel’s sustainability credentials – both established and emerging – including its:
- off-site manufacturing process
- flexibility and adaptability
- performance in regard to embodied carbon
- ability to be re-used, recycled and multi-cycled
- alignment with circular economy principles
All steel components are manufactured off-site in the controlled environment of a fabrication factory, and then assembled on site. The off-site manufacturing process is faster and leaner than traditional site-based construction.
Off-site steel fabrication also has benefits for the workforce as it requires skilled, settled workers, so offers long-term employment for a specialist workforce, benefiting local communities. Compared with working on-site, the steelwork fabrication factory is also a safer environment for staff; and productivity and quality are not subject to the elements as site-based construction is.
In the factory, sophisticated design and production systems deliver precision-engineered components in a controlled, highly regulated and safe environment. Any waste material produced during fabrication can be recycled and used again in the steelmaking process.
Fabricated steelwork is delivered to site as and when required, reducing the need for on-site storage, substantially reducing site waste and disruption to other trades and neighbours. The off-site process means products have few defects, which leads to less “snagging” on site, resulting in savings in time and money.
The government-commissioned Farmer Review into construction industry efficiency, published in October 2016, identified off-site manufacturing as central to modernising the industry.
Its benefits include improved innovation, research and development, sustainability and speed of delivery. Trade body Buildoffsite has identified time savings of 50% to 60% for projects with high repeatability, such as hotels and prisons, and 25% to 30% for more complex schemes such as offices or retail.