Green Building

Green Building - LEED

Several organizations have developed requirements or criteria for the evaluation of structures and products with respect to sustainability and green building.  According to the United Nations, “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  Green Building, although it has different meanings to different entities, in its simplest context means “construction in a sustainable manner.”  Steel has several aspects that work well in sustainable structures:

  • High recycled content (minimum 25% for ALL steel)
  • Infinitely recyclable; easy to separate in the recycling stream
  • Reduced jobsite waste
  • Opportunity for local sourcing
  • Durability during life of the structure
  • Potential for reuse

One of the more popular set of criteria for evaluating the sustainability of buildings is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).   Developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), the LEED program was originally launched in 1998 and has experienced several updates over the years.  Most buildings currently registered in the LEED for New Construction (NC) process are being evaluated under LEED version 4. 

SSMA has developed Technical Note 6, “LEED® v4 Credits for Cold-Formed Steel Framing Manufacturers (.pdf)” for use on projects evaluated under LEED v4.  Although the wording and examples in the Technical Note do not specifically apply to other versions of LEED or other rating systems, the principals, recycling rates, and other data are still accurate and applicable, and may be quoted/used for requirements beyond LEED v4. For additional information on the specific steel framing materials being supplied on your project, contact the specific SSMA member company that is manufacturing the steel framing and accessories for your job.

Some additional facts about steel recycling, from the Steel Framing Alliance (SFA):

  • Each year, the North American steel industry recycles millions of tons of steel scrap from recycled cans, appliances, automobiles, and construction materials. This scrap is re-melted to produce new steel.
  • 64% of all steel products are recycled – more than any other material in the U.S. including glass, paper, plastic and aluminum, combined.
  • Steel recycling programs reduce the solid waste stream, resulting in saved landfill space, and help to conserve our natural resources.
  • Steel recycling saves the energy equivalent of electrical power for about one-fifth of U.S. households (or about 18 million homes) for one year.
  • Every ton of recycled steel saves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal, and 120 pounds of limestone.
  • All cold-formed steel framing contains a minimum of 25% recycled steel.

Additional Resources

Steel Recycling Institute: “Steel Takes LEED® with Recycled Content (.pdf)” 4-page document referenced by the SSMA Technical Note listed above. This gives a detailed explanation of the electric arc furnace (EAF) and basic oxygen furnace (BOF) processes of steelmaking and how recycling is used with each.

Steel Framing Alliance: “Steel and the Environment (.pdf)” 8-page brochure.  In addition to information on LEED, this document contains information on steel’s thermal performance, as well as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), embodied energy, and the use of steel with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and International Code Council (ICC) “National Green Building Standard.”

AISI Sustainability: