Demountable structural steel could up the ante on sustainability

But codes and standards would have to be reviewed or updated

November 06, 2014 |
Photo: Dwight Burdette via Wikimedia Commons

Demountable structural steel assemblies would be a greener way to make use of steel in the construction industry than recycling, says University of New South Wales (UNSW) School of Civil and Environmental Engineering professor, Brian Uy.

Recycling steel reduces waste but consumes only marginally less energy than producing steel from scratch, Uy says. Large-scale demountable buildings are a feasible proposition, UY says. Taking steel used in existing buildings to reuse on new projects would avoid the need to smelt new steel.

Implementing re-used steel could be a game changer for the construction industry by reducing the environmental and cost impacts of using steel in new buildings, Uy contends. Structural steel is well suited to demountability, as it lends itself to common bolted construction methods. UNSW is working on the development of appropriate components and connections to make demountable structural steel a reality.

Codes and standards would need to recognize, characterize, and assess the reliability of the material being supplied from the reused stock. Some countries including Malaysia are taking steps toward this model, promoting Cradle to Cradle concepts for infrastructure. In the UK, the Sustainable Construction Panel of the Institution of Structural Engineers recently submitted a white paper to promote reuse in BREEAM, the UK green building scheme.


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