Greenbuild 2018: Recycling Steel Can Contribute to LEED v4 Projects

November 16, 2018

America Recycles Day 2018 also happened to be the 30th anniversary of the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI), an industry association that promotes and sustains the recycling of all steel products. SRI Executive Director Mark Thimons was on hand at the 2018 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo to discuss the milestone and the benefits of recycling the major building material.

“We’re really excited about the fact that today is the 30th anniversary of the Steel Recycling Institute,” Thimons said. “Steel has always been one of the most recycled products in construction applications. Any steel product that’s used in a building, at the end of its life is 100 percent recyclable, meaning that any steel deck, steel joist, steel beams, steel door can be recycled.”

Steel is one of the most recycled building materials - it's also now an ideal contributor for LEED v4 projects.

And not only can it be recycled, Thimons continued, it can be recycled into a completely different product. A steel beam, for instance, can be recycled into such items as food cans.

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Steel has long been chosen as a building material for its strength and durability. And more than 60 million tons of steel are recycled every year in the US alone – globally, it’s 10 times that amount, Thimons said. “It’s in the range of 500 million tons of steel that’s recycled every year. It’s the most recycled material.”

Now, recycled steel is also being touted as an ideal contributor for LEED v4 projects.

  • It can be fabricated to exact specifications to minimize on-site waste
  • Steel construction projects typically emit no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on site, which contributes to better indoor air quality
  • The steel industry has created a wide range of environmental product declarations (EPDs), which can assist project teams in evaluating environmental life cycle impacts

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“The steel construction products industry has produced a full range of these EPDs,” Thimons said. “And they are for essentially every major steel product that can be used in construction, like steel beams, steel studs, steel decks, steel joists – all of those products have environmental product declarations associated with them. So that they contribute to that credit.”

Janelle Penny, BUILDINGS’ senior staff writer, contributed to this article from the 2018 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo.

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About the author
Sarah Kloepple | Associate Editor

Sarah joined the BUILDINGS team as an associate editor in August 2018. She is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, where her focus was magazine writing. She's written and edited for numerous publications in her hometown of St. Louis.