Steel is a very sustainable material, it can be recycled endlessly with no detrimental effect on the properties. If you no longer want your building, it is taken down and the components can either be reused as they are, or they can be broken down and returned to the manufacturing process to be used as new components. In the Uk, around 96% of all steel construction components are reused and around 50% of new steel production comes from recycled steel pieces. In fact, composite steel floors are given an A+ environmental rating in the Building Research Establishment’s (BRE) Green Guide to Specification.
Steel structures do not need the same robust foundations than their concrete counterparts – because they are significantly lighter – this reduces the impact of the building process on the environment. And if steel foundations are used, once a building is no longer needed, they can be removed from the ground and either reused or put back into the steel making process. This means there is no waste left on site, and nothing needs to be disposed of, meaning nothing goes to landfill.
Steelwork constructors must abide by the Sustainability Charter. They must show their commitment to the Charter by abiding by the sustainable practices set out in it, as well as committing to an annual review carried out by an independent assessor. With so many businesses wanting to reduce their carbon footprint, the sector has developed a process that will standardise the assessment of the carbon emissions. This has meant that an average carbon footprint across the industry is now available.
Additionally, many parts of the supply chain to the steel industry work to ISO 14001 and BES 6001 – an accreditation in environmental management and the BRE’s framework standard respectively. This shows the responsible sourcing of their construction products across the industry.