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February 2008 – Steel sustainability the highlight of the show

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All sectors of the construction industry will be presenting their sustainability cases at the Futurebuild event in London this month. Some of the highlights of the show will be provided by the steel construction sector (see News), with Corus providing a novel feature of a steel recycling counter, which will be switched on at the start of the three day show and will display in tonnes the amount of steel that will be recycled globally during that time. At over 15 tonnes every second, it will come as a surprisingly big number to some.

The counter is an imaginative way of getting some of the key sustainable steel construction messages across – among them that steel is the world’s most recycled material, that it is derived from the planet’s most abundant element, and there is no such thing as used steel without a present and future use and value.

Many people still don’t have as full a grasp of the sustainability case for steel as they should, not yet appreciating for example that, unlike other materials, steel can be continually recycled without any degradation in its quality. Other materials can be crushed up and used as an inferior product to the one that it started out as, but not often. All steel has recycled content and it has been recycled for as long as it has been produced, long before the current sustainability impetus from the challenge of global warming.

So steel has always had a strong sustainability case, and the challenge now is to strengthen that case. Major investments have and are being made in improving steel construction all along the supply chain, from the extraction of iron ore and other raw materials through manufacture and fabrication to on-site erection.

All steel construction involves off-site construction, which is another key sustainability gain that will be highlighted at the show. A vision for sustainable steel framed housing will be shown on a Steel Ideal stand, incorporating a full scale ManuBuild prototype. Visitors will also see a gallery containing winning designs and entries from two Living Steel International Design competitions.

Other major sustainability related promotions will be taking place over the course of 2008 and we will keep readers informed about them through the year. For now however, the place to head for an update on some key steel sustainability efforts is Futurebuild at Earls Court from 26-28 February.

Nick Barrett

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