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Meet the sustainable construction challenge: ArcelorMittal steel solution benefits

As society makes determined moves towards sustainability, construction has a very important role to play within this new agenda, not only because of its economic and social contribution, but also because of its impact on the quality of our lives, our comfort and safety. While the building industry provides 5% to 10% of worldwide employment and generates 5% to 15% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), the built environment accounts for 40% of energy consumption, 40% of CO2 emissions, 30% of the consumption of natural resources, 30% of waste generation and 20% of water consumption.

The future global challenge for the construction industry is clearly to meet the world’s growing needs while at the same time limiting the impact of its burdens by drastic improvement of its activities.

In construction, steel has developed as a material of choice and offers a wide range of solutions that can make buildings more energy efficient, less costly to operate and more comfortable.

We in ArcelorMittal strongly believe in steel’s values for green building and are committed to helping deliver the benefits that our solutions bring to our customers, buildings and the buildings’ owners.

Issues and responsibilities in respect of sustainable development

The building sector plays a key social role, providing housing for 6 billion people worldwide! As a large economic sector it accounts for about 10 to 15% of direct employment. It also has a strong impact on the environment, with
- 40% of energy consumption
- 40% of CO2 emissions
- 30% of consumption of natural resources
- 30% of waste generation
- 20% of water consumption

and on living conditions: the population – at least in the case of industrialised countries - spends 90% of its life inside buildings. Steel construction is an ideal solution to meet these concerns.

Different phases of a building's life

Sustainable construction: the advantages of steel construction at each phase of a building´s life.

Efficient steel solutions When evaluating the sustainability of a building, the life cycle approach is required, taking into account all phases of a building's life, including materials production, transportation to the construction site, the construction operation itself, operational use of the building, demolition or deconstruction and end of life.

Steel - the most recycled material in the world

Steel is 100% and indefinitely recyclable, without any quality loss. When reclaimed, it is 100% recycled. The recycling rate is the percentage of materials being taken out of service, reclaimed and reused. This rate is very high for steel, but it varies from product to product. In construction, for example, it reaches particularly high levels: 98% for beams, 65-70% for reinforcement bars.

For each tonne produced, the steel industry is storing sustainability for future generations, which will not have to produce it. Recycled steel represents 40% of the steel industry ferrous resource in the world. ArcelorMittal is the world's largest scrap recycler: 1,2 tonnes of steel are recycled each second!

The Recycling Loop

Steel recycling is a sustainable process: the recycling loop is ensured by the intrinsic economic value of steel.

Carbon footprint reduction

Recycled steel represents 40% of the steel industry ferrous resource in the world. - Recycled steel is mainly used in the electric furnace processes (31.7% of the world steel production), but also in the other steel production processes (blast oxygen furnace).

- The steel industry's good performance level is very close to its theoritical limit (50%). Because of steel products' long life cycle and former production levels, the current availability of scrap cannot cover the high demand for steel.

Raw material savings

A product's recycling rate is a key parameter of its sustainability. When assessing their performance through LCI methodology, the high recycling rate of the steel beams makes it possible to reduce their carbon footprint and more generally their environmental impact by 40%!

A huge reduction in environmental impact in the manufacturing process
Over time, the steel industry has achieved a lot of progress: waste generation, water use and air emissions are continually decreasing. By the year 2007, 80% of ArcelorMittal production sites had achieved the ISO 14001 certification, the international standard for environmental management systems.

CO2 and energy

In Europe, CO2 emissions per tonne and energy consumption per tonne have been halved over 30 years. In Canada, industry can demonstrate 30% savings in CO2 intensity within 20 years. Technical processes are now very close to their technical limit; further progress can only come from breakthrough technologies evaluated in the Ulcos project led by ArcelorMittal.

Durability and lasting value

In many applications, where steel is used internally or concealed, the material's intrinsic properties are sufficient to resist corrosion. For applications where steel longevity could be affected by corrosion, ArcelorMittal has developed a large range of products or solutions that considerably improve materials' durability and that make steel the most appropriate material for long lasting applications:

- Stainless Steel, which intrinsically offers a high level of corrosion resistance.
- Metallic coatings such as galvanised steel.
- Organic coatings

Eco-friendly products and coatings

Steel is environmentally inert: in contact with air or water, it doesn't emit or release any compounds that are toxic to the environment or to humans.

Eco-friendly coatings have been developed, offering significantly reduced impact in respect of products but also in respect of processes.

Exposed to high heat levels, organic coated products may release some volatile organic compounds, which are air pollutants. Compared to post-coated products, it has been proven that products coming directly from industrialized pre-coating lines release less VOCs and have a lower environmental impact.

High degree of prefabrication

All steel products, from simple sections to complex façade components, are manufactured off-site and are delivered to site ready to assemble.

This use of prefabricated elements provides a large range of benefits that contribute to risks reduction during the construction phase:

- Controlled quality
- Easier construction site management
- Quick erection, reduced lead times
- Enhanced safety
- Ease of deconstruction

Benefits of the `dry´ steel construction system

The use of steel construction techniques reduces environmental impacts and neighbourhood nuisance on the construction site.

Water use, waste generation, dust emission, traffic and noise are considerably lower than in traditional construction.

Construction site management is greatly facilitated. All these advantages are especially appreciable in congested urban areas.