Green and sustainable building construction continues to rise as one of the top emergin industries in the United States today. A report released sometime during the first quarter of 2012 stated that in the past decade, the average annual rate of growth of this environment-friendly sector was almost 29%. In the same report, it was estimated that in the next five years, its projected annual growth might just be up to almost 23% – looks like they meant “sustainability” in every sense of the word.
Climate change has been a hot-topic in certain circles in the US. There have been debates across the country as to what appropriate actions should be taken, if they are agreed to be taken, to start with. Nonetheless, America seems to be moving towards a united effort to control the harmful effects of greenhouse gases, reduce carbon footprint, and find alternative sources of energy.
But other than helping beat climate change, the main thing that really pushed the numbers is the ability of green building to defy the rising energy costs and commodity prices, brought about by the Great Recession.
Now, green building is actually a method that applies to all kinds of structures, regardless of material, and steel is not an exception. In fact, steel buildings are probably the greenest of green buildings. And this is not just because you can add wind turbines or solar panels – it’s much more than that.
Steel buildings are, easily said, sustainable just because they are. Steel, as the main material for construction, guarantees flexibility, cost and time efficiency, stability, and, most importantly, recyclability – all of which are inherent to the material itself.
Speaking of recyclability, research shows that about 80 to 99% of structural steel are recycled and reused after demolition. All over the world, if combined, recycled steel actually amounts to half a million tons yearly. Imagine all that recycled steel being reshaped, restored, and reused. No other material makes this possible.
The main thing that keeps steel buildings or green buildings profitable is the reduced time it takes to complete the construction. The rise in energy costs is obvious, as you may well know, and fuel prices tend to fluctuate between days. Since steel buildings are easy to assemble, less time is also spent using fuel and power typical for conventional construction methods. Pieces of steel buildings are pre-fabricated and fit like a puzzle – no adjustments, no hassle, less time, better results.
Are you a “green-minded” homeowner? Do you make conscious efforts to buy “green” products for your home? Well, if you love Mother Nature and would want to contribute in the global movement to save the planet, then start to think “green”. And this includes practicing green building techniques.
Traditional construction techniques harm not only the environment, but also pose danger to our health. Choosing alternative structures that consume less energy throughout the whole building process is a good move, as far as conserving our planet for future generations is concerned. The good news is, changing our bad habits will also save us a lot of money.
At any stage of a house’s lifecycle, from its design to construction and up to its demolition and subsequent reconstruction, there are eco-friendly alternatives to choose from that offer a lot of benefits for you and the environment.
Eco-friendly or sustainable buildings help save the planet by using less energy. Their construction and the manufacture of their components also have reduced carbon emissions. A good example of this is a building made of steel.
Steel buildings are gaining prominence as sustainable construction solutions for a lot of reasons. First of all, these structures make use of recycled materials. Steel can be recycled indefinitely and the recycled content of steel used in the construction of today’s steel buildings can go as high as 80%. Besides, modern steel milling technologies use lesser energy than their counterparts in the past.
Comparatively, construction of steel buildings takes 50% less time than traditional construction since they just need to be assembled at the site. This means less energy and fuel are consumed for transporting laborers and materials and powering the tools and equipment needed during construction.
Nowadays, there are more products and construction materials that are less polluting and less toxic. In the first place, if you choose to build with steel, you will never need to use toxic chemicals for maintenance since steel buildings are resistant to mold, mildew and insect infestation.
Saving money is possible when homeowners choose green buildings. In addition to the affordability of steel buildings, the government is also offering grants and incentives to homeowners who choose to build green.
Saving the planet and saving money are not just possibilities but realities when homeowners choose sustainable construction methods like prefabricated steel buildings.
There are a lot of factors why the promotion of green construction is making headway into the mindset of consumers and this has contributed significantly to the popularity of steel buildings for new construction. Steel buildings are considered “green” since they are environment-friendly and resource-efficient throughout their lifecycle.
Steel buildings are made from the most recycled material in the planet –steel. Aside from that, their construction results to minimal waste materials and these are in turn sent to the mills for recycling. Their fast, simple and efficient construction also requires less energy since most of the work has been done at the factory.
Awareness in sustainable construction has gone global. The government is going full force to encourage developers to adopt green building. One of its strategies is to offer financial and structural incentives to developers who practice green building techniques. It must be emphasized that these efforts are at low or no cost to the concerned municipality.
The rewards of developers include increased density bonuses and expedited permitting processes.
When there is proof or certification that the developer is applying green building practices, many municipalities grant percentage increases in Floor Area Ratio (total square feet of the building divider by the total square feet of the lot where the building is located).
Review and or/permitting processes vary widely in length and in some municipalities, it can take up to 18 months. If there is a commitment on the part of developer to follow specific green building standards, then the review and or/permitting processes are accelerated. This would mean a significant cost savings on the part of developer with little or no financial investment for the municipality.
Direct incentives such as tax credits or assistance are granted to developers who promote green buildings. This will not in any way reduce revenues for the municipality since the proposed developments will more often than not increase the property value in the area.
Tax credits are granted to both homeowners and developers for their green building construction. Some municipalities reduce or waive their fees for permitting processes.
Lastly, grants are given to developers and homeowners who employ green building practices. This is the only incentive that requires financial investments on the part of the municipality. But funding of these programs can be taken from revenue generating strategies, such as those discussed above.
Today, the collective efforts of various sectors of society are all geared towards energy conservation as part of the global movement to lessen carbon emission. Construction, in general, is one of the biggest consumers of energy. However, the choice of design, materials and suppliers would greatly lessen the impact on the amount of energy used during construction.
Construction projects use up large amounts of energy for the following reasons:
- Energy is consumed when mining and dredging aggregates and stone
- Energy is required in the manufacture of basic construction materials like nails, cement, bricks and blocks
- Energy is needed in the production of construction accessories like insulation materials, windows, doors, coatings, gutters, downspouts, etc.
- Fuel and energy is used in transporting construction products and materials
- Fuel and energy is required in the operation of tools, machinery and on-site vehicles
Steps can be undertaken in order to reduce the energy used for any construction project such as:
- Choose methods that result to minimized waste materials
- Source construction materials locally
- Choose sustainable materials
- Invest in energy-efficient tools and equipment
- Observe energy conservation whenever possible
A definite alternative to traditional construction that bolsters energy conservation and the subsequent reduction of carbon emissions is to build with steel.
Construction of steel buildings is considered to be sustainable or “green” construction due to the following reasons:
- Steel is a highly recyclable material
- Fast construction methods
- Minimum waste materials
The US Green Building Council’s LEED® rating system has given high marks for steel as a sustainable construction material due to its exceptional levels of recycled content. Light flat-rolled steel products have about 30% recycled content while structurally shaped steel has about 80% recycled content.
State-of-the-art steel manufacturing technology makes use of processes that consume less power and fuel inputs without losing their efficiency.
The prefabricated nature of steel buildings allows for fast and efficient construction with minimal processes and machinery since most of the work has been done at the factory. As a result, less energy and fuel are needed to finish the job.
In addition, waste materials resulting from the construction of steel buildings averages only 10% of what is produced from the construction of wood-based structures. And that small percentage is again recycled to produce new steel.
Gold has always been associated with the best or something of great value. That is why when describing something that is a model of excellence or the supreme example of something, which others are judged or measured; it is referred to as the gold standard.
In construction, there is such a thing as Green Building, which is defined in the EPA website as a sustainable or high performance building that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout its life cycle. The ultimate or the “holy grail” in green building design is the zero energy or net zero design, which refers to a structure that produces as much energy as it uses.
The green building design is becoming to be the gold standard in construction. And construction of green buildings is gaining momentum with increased consumer demand, mostly fueled by government incentives and policies and increased environmental awareness.
For example, the California Energy Commission (CEC) is requiring residential buildings in the state to be net zero energy by 2020 and commercial buildings by 2030. Other countries and regions have also established regulations requiring zero energy building construction, which will take effect over the coming years.
Green buildings incorporate sustainable materials in their construction. One excellent example of a sustainable material is steel, which is the most sustainable building material in the planet. That is why choosing steel buildings, is a step towards green construction.
- The steel industry has started to reduce its energy usage needed to produce a ton of steel by a third, since early 1990’s.
- Recycled water is used in steel making.
- The steel used in today’s construction contains recycled content.
- Old steel can be recycled indefinitely without losing its properties.
- Steel buildings are durable and strong. Steel will not rot. It is resistant to termites and mold, too. Steel will not warp, break, split or creep. That is why steel buildings are known to last longer than conventional structures.
- To be able to carry the same loads, steel framing require less material than that made of concrete or masonry.