Industry News




 

01/19/2007

The Scoop on Structural Steel

Need-to-know information on structural steel helps debunk industry myths

 

What’s New in Seismic Design

Steel has long been the gold standard for seismic design. The Washington, D.C.-based Federal Emergency Management Agency’s $12 million investment in the SAC Steel Project yielded an array of high-performance steel moment frame solutions. The American Institute of Steel Construction has incorporated this work into the 2005 Seismic Provisions and 2005 Prequalified Moment Connections Standard. In addition, the Seismic Provisions included two new solutions for designers in high-seismic areas:

1. Steel Plate Shear Walls. A superior solution for shear wall systems, this steel design offers substantial advantages in terms of cost, performance, and ease of design.

2. Buckling Restrained Braced Frames. While braces are usually stronger in tension and weaker in compression, this economical new system is much more robust and designed to eliminate buckling in compression.

For more information, visit (www.aisc.org).

A little more than half of all buildings built in the United States last year utilized a structural-steel frame. But, despite an almost 2:1 advantage over the next most-common framing material, building owners still have a lot of questions.

1. Is the price of steel skyrocketing?
No. Fortunately, the major price increases are now behind us, though minor fluctuations up and down are expected to continue. However, severe price inflation during the past 3 years affected almost every major building material - from concrete to plywood to gypsum products. Additionally, remember that you’re not buying steel beams; rather, you’re buying steel fabricated and erected. Typically, the raw material is only about one-third or less of the total steel package. As a result, the price of steel to a building developer still climbed substantially in the past 3 years - by a more reasonable 13 to 15 percent rather than the 40 percent widely reported.

2. Is there a steel shortage?
No. While inflationary prices are often the result of supply issues, this was not the case with structural steel. Instead, the run-up in prices was primarily the result of higher raw material costs plus rapidly climbing energy charges. While lead times from mills for wide-flange shapes are around 12 to 14 weeks (and, for structural tube [HSS], about 4 to 6 weeks), steel warehouses (also known as steel service centers) around the country have nearly 1 million tons of structural steel in stock and can deliver most sizes within days of receiving an order. Today, nearly 70 percent of the steel used in building projects is purchased from these warehouses. The exception is typically the “mega-project,” but these large-scale projects are always years in the planning.

3. Is steel a “green” material?
Yes. By weight, steel is the most recycled material in the world. In fact, if you purchase a wide-flange beam or column in the United States today, you’re getting a product produced from about 95-percent scrap material. In addition, because of the high value of steel scrap, old steel almost never ends up in a landfill; instead, it’s recycled into new steel products. If you’re considering LEED certification, a steel-framed building almost always receives a credit for recycled content. With most fabricators located within 500 miles of a jobsite, steel-framed buildings are typically eligible to receive an additional LEED credit.

4. Is steel a blast-resistant material?
Yes. Since 9/11, owners have been increasingly concerned about building safety. While a properly designed building using either steel or concrete is safe, structural steel’s inherent ductility and strength make it the preferred blast-resistant structural material. In fact, a recent full-scale test modeled the response of a steel column to the same blast that caused the collapse of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. It demonstrated that a comparable steel column subjected to the blast would not fail and would retain enough structural integrity to support the building after the blast. Steel’s phenomenal ductility makes it inherently blast resistant; it’s also the strongest building material.

Scott Melnick is vice president of communications at the American Institute of Steel Construction Inc. (www.aisc.org), Chicago.

 

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Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
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04/23/2014

A key part to curbing emissions is working with local and city officials, tenants, and other groups to help make entire communities more sustainable. BOMA International shares the following strategies for greening your facility and community.

04/21/2014

Lighting fixes target the bottom line.

04/16/2014

The U.S. Army plans to start development of a solar array that will provide about 25% of the annual installation electricity requirement of Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

04/15/2014

The EPA's annual greenhouse gas emissions report is now available.

04/14/2014

Are you what some would call a “climate-change denier”? If so, you'll want to read this.

04/10/2014
Los Angeles has remained the top city for ENERGY STAR certified building since 2008, while Washington, D.C. continues to hold onto second place for the fifth consecutive year, according to a new list released by the EPA.
04/09/2014
Green construction has grown massively over a short period of time.
04/07/2014
Field demonstrations of newly proven energy-efficient technologies are yielding valuable results for the U.S. Navy, helping it meet energy goals.
04/03/2014
Building owners in Chicago now have more options when it comes to getting their building energy data verified.
04/01/2014
According to a new report from Eaton, such outages are up 15% in 2013 over 2012 and over half of those surveyed believe that downtime could have been prevented.
03/31/2014
The newly revised ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 105-2014, Standard Methods of Determining, Expressing, and Comparing Building Energy Performance and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, aims to provide a consistent method of measuring, expressing, and comparing the energy performance of buildings.
03/27/2014
Facility managers face an every expanding array of sustainability choices and challenges, but for the next generation of FMs, green practices could be second nature as sustainability literacy enters the K-12 school system.
03/25/2014
While the economic recession explains the decline in sales in 2008 and 2009, it is much less clear why sales have continued to fall.
03/24/2014
University of Washington (UW) scientists have built the thinnest known LED that can be used as a source of light energy in electronics.
03/21/2014
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2378 into law, effectively enacting the state’s first building code.
03/19/2014
In an attempt to improve building energy performance, the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has released a web-based tool called the Technology Performance Exchange, or TPEx.
03/18/2014
Could green building practices pose unanticipated life-safety hazards?
03/13/2014
Worried about workplace violence in your facility? Researchers have discovered that “mindfully observing” high-risk employees can avert danger and workplace violence.
03/11/2014
Through the DOE’s Building Energy Codes Program, every dollar the DOE has spent on building energy codes over the past two decades has resulted in $400 in energy cost savings.
03/07/2014
It is possible to harvest energy from Earth's thermal infrared emission into outer space, according to new research from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
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