More than half of the steel produced worldwide goes into steel buildings and infrastructure. Nevertheless, about 1.6 billion people live in inadequate housing around the world today and an estimated 100 million are homeless. What’s more, just over 1 billion people will move to towns and cities between now and 2030. Our need for housing is greater than ever and continues to grow. At the same time we live in a world where we must find new ways of doing more with less. We can solve these contradictory challenges with steel. Sustainable living needs steel. It’s strong, it’s versatile, it’s durable, it’s infinitely recyclable and it’s affordable.
What makes steel the best material to meet the 21st century’s housing needs in a sustainable way? Here are the top ten reasons to choose steel.
1. Steel is never wasted
Steel is the most recycled material in the world - anything made of steel in your home can be recycled and made into new products. Steel has recovery rates of over 85% in the construction sector. This means that almost all the steel used in a house will not remain on a scrap heap for centuries, but will instead be recovered and recycled into a bolt in a plane, a car door, or a panel in a wind turbine. Because steel is reusable, building components or entire homes can be designed for reuse rather than demolition.
2. Steel lasts for generations
Steel lives much longer than humans. This longevity, made possible by steel’s durability, means your house will remain for a lifetime without having to use up tremendous amounts of time, money and resources fixing or re-building. Your home today will still be standing strong in one hundred years’ time and might even be a home for your great-grandchildren.
3. Steel is light, yet strong
Steel today is lighter than ever but just as strong. Modern house framing is 50% lighter than the steel that was used 30 years ago thanks to its high strength and intelligent design. This results in less CO2 emissions and costs during transportation, construction, and assembly. This light-weight steel allows thinner and larger window frames which let in more natural light to brighten up your home.
4. Steel saves energy
Steel is a great insulator. Much less energy is lost with steel, meaning lower energy bills and a lower environmental footprint. For example, steel panels provide excellent air-tightness, which minimises energy use during the use-phase of the building, thereby contributes to savings up to 30% in energy costs.
5. Steel is climate proof
Steel is designed to be efficient in any climate. Heat radiates quickly from steel roofing, creating a cooler home environment in hot areas. In cold climates, double steel panel walls can be well insulated to better contain the heat and dark roofs and walls can be used to absorb solar energy.
6. Steel is quick and easy
Steel building components are mostly cut to precise specifications in the factory or prefabricated off-site. These steel structures are easily transported and assembled on site, making life easier for the builders and reducing construction time by up to 40% - saving energy and money for everyone involved.
7. Steel means fewer worries
Steel products require minimal maintenance over time, which results in less resource use compared to alternative materials that require more frequent replacement. This means less time spent fixing and more time relaxing.
8. Steel protects us and our homes
Steel offers the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any building material. Because of its strength and durability, steel structures can be designed to withstand natural disasters including hurricanes and earthquakes. Steel is also impervious to attacks from termites or fungi. It is also highly fire resistant. Steel locks and doors help to keep everything we treasure safe.
9. Steel is creativity, applied
Steel is easily formed and joined, enabling designers and architects to be even more creative. Steel-framed buildings are easily adaptable and highly flexible - whatever the need in the home, steel can be the answer. This makes steel a great facilitator in the conversion of obsolete buildings, such as warehouses or train stations, into modern living or working spaces, extending their useful life.
10. Steel is beautiful
Steel has no limits when it comes to design. Its clean lines and variety of surfaces make it a favourite choice for designers. It can be used throughout the house to create the perfect finish on your art nouveau headboard, stylish steel staircase or ultra-modern kitchen oven. Steel is also a great collaborator: it is easily combined with many other materials to create beautiful homes.