Updated: Jul 2, 2021
Structural steel is the premier green construction material. Its high recycled content and recycling rate exceed those of any other construction material. Over the past three decades, the steel industry has reduced greenhouse gas and overall emissions by 36% and increased the water recycling rate of steel production to 95%. Today, the American steel industry is the least carbon-intensive of all major steel-producing countries, and its footprint will continue to decrease as the U.S. power grid becomes more and more fossil-free.
Recycled Steel Scrap
As the green building movement grows, more and more building owners, architects, engineers, and contractors are selecting structural steel framing systems to meet sustainable design and construction goals.
The LEED Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, has been crucial to this movement. And under LEED 2009 and V4 criteria, structural steel receives maximum credit for its contribution to the overall rating for a structure, due in large part to its recycled content, recycling rate, and transparency.
Structural steel produced in the United States contains 93% recycled steel scrap, on average. At the end of a building's life, 98% of all structural steel is recycled back into new steel products, with no loss of its physical properties. As such, structural steel isn't just recycled but "multi-cycled," as it can be recycled over and over and over again. It is truly a cradle-to-cradle material.