Old film footage of steel factories and smelting plants do nothing to enhance society, to the idea that steel framed buildings are incredibly environmentally friendly. The truth is they are and we are going to discover why during the course of this article.
The truth about being green
There are lots of factors that go into determining whether something is green. Sometimes the facts or certain components that make up the decision as to whether something is green, or not, are distorted.
What are the components that determine how green something is?
- Extraction process of raw materials
- Manufacturing process to utilise the product
- Ability to recycle
- On-going maintenance
As we have said the facts given out of proportion may distort our view as to the greenness of a commodity and in the case of steel we will discover just how green it is.
What makes steel green?
We are quickly going to compare some of the reason people are realising that steel is green when we look at a comparison of the alternatives
- Steel is recyclable! When the particular structure or product has come to the end of its useful life, if it is made from steel, it will be part of the 60 million tons of steel that is recycled every year. Many of the alternative products cannot be recycled and they end up in landfill.
- Once something has been constructed from steel the level of maintenance required is incredibly low. Low maintenance in terms of steel is often compared to similar structures that are built from wood. The wood has to be treated with chemicals to prevent mould and rot.
- Steel can be cut to exact dimensions meaning that there is substantially less material wasted at the construction phase. Many alternative products cannot be cut with the same accuracy and so there is more wastage. The waste ends up in landfill.
- Steel is incredibly strong and the impact of this means that less material is used in the construction of buildings. The alternatives often need much deeper footings when the building is erected.
- Steel is strong and its strength contributes to its remarkable durability. Steel structure buildings will last longer than buildings constructed from other materials.
- Steel actually uses low amounts of energy to produce and from that perspective is very environmentally friendly.
There have been several technical advancements that have further improved the green appeal of steel for example in the car industry and construction industry. Most of these advancements have been made in the last two decades.
The Eiffel tower would use a third of the steel if it were built today. Steel has become thinner stronger and lighter.
In summing up steel technology has come forward in leaps and bounds. It has become environmentally friendly by design. Some of the alternatives have not made the same advancements. Low maintenance costs combined with incredible durability all make steel more environmental than its alternatives. Steel is easily and efficiently recycled and does not need to be placed in landfill.