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Re-use of Structural Steel

Posted: 2020-09-11, in category: construction

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There is a bit of a revolution going on at the moment within the steel industry relating to the way we treat the material. Typically, once steel has reached the end of it’s usefulness, it is dismantled, sold for scrap and melted down. This common process can be expensive and isn’t particularly environmentally friendly. Rather than recycling, specialists in the construction sector are being urged to re-use steel where possible. This not only reduces greenhouse gases, but saves money too.

The Steel Construction Institute (SCI) has produced a 46 page guide on the procedures and processes for reclaiming steel used in existing buildings. The guidance also covers surplus steel, that arises when a project is cancelled etc. Certain steel is not recommended such as that produced before 1970, or steel that has suffered damage through fire or high impact. Applications where the steel has been subject to fatigue, as that used in the construction of bridges for instance, is also not suitable. SCI protocol demands that steel considered for re-use be rigorously inspected and tested along with data collection.

Pressure on the construction industry to be more efficient where resources are concerned, has been steadily growing. There are also calls for the industry to lower its greenhouse gas emissions, issues which the re-use of steel would address. In addition the changes would give rise to new business opportunities for the UK, and reduce the need for steel imports. Research conducted by consultants Giraffe Innovation revealed that just by using surplus steel from cancelled projects, greenhouse gases can be reduced by up to 96%.

Director of Pluton Engineering and a member of the Institution of Structural Engineers’ sustainability panel Tom Hay said: “The construction sector has been crying out for proper guidance on how to safely and effectively reuse structural steel. These protocols from the SCI should help the industry to be more sustainable and embrace the circular economy in a way it has been unable to do so due to a lack of clarity in the existing regulations. Hopefully the SCI’s approach will be adopted at a national and European level.”

This is good news for structural steel engineers such as Salford Engineering, who fully support this type of innovation and forward thinking.

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