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Sustainability will boost future market shares

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There is good news for steel construction in the latest Market Shares survey results, which shows steel with a commanding lead in key sectors like multi-storey buildings and sheds, which are performing such a key role in the transformation of growth sectors like online retail and the data centres that all computer-based systems depend on (see News).

In a growing market for structural frames, steel achieved a record share in the multi-storey offices sector; more broadly the survey confirms that steel remains the preferred choice of the UK construction market across all the building types analysed. There are many good reasons for that, ranging from cost-effectiveness, speed of construction, flexibility and adaptability to a very strong sustainability case.

Last month we looked ahead to what promised to be a busy year for the steel construction sector in 2023, alerting readers to further sustainability initiatives to be announced soon as the push towards achieving the government’s net zero carbon target gathers pace.

Details about the first of these new initiatives will be available from next month with the release of a new guide to what procurement professionals along the supply chain need to know about the sustainability benefits of steel. Regular readers of NSC will of course appreciate that there are many benefits, and that it pays to take care that proper sustainability assessments are being made when comparing alternative materials.

We also promised to report on positive responses to the imperative of combatting climate change by reducing carbon, and we can see examples of promises being turned into action in this issue of NSC. For example, the new distribution centre at Ellesmere Port (p16) is targeting the highest level of sustainability certification achievable and will be certified as net zero carbon in operation for the base build works.

The building has been pre-let to car manufacturer Peugeot as its UK parts distribution centre, exactly the kind of company that will increasingly demand the highest achievable sustainability performance from all of its suppliers.

Also in this issue, we see ‘low carbon’ steel being used on one of London’s largest mixed-use regeneration schemes, at the Canada Water Dock Shed (p14). ArcelorMittal’s XCarb steel is being used there, which is manufactured using the electric arc furnace method, reducing embodied carbon emissions by some 1,400 tonnes on a scheme that has considered sustainability from the design stage.

In news this month you can read that the Steel for Life interactive Blue Book upgrade for S460 has just gone live and can be accessed from or directly at:

The Blue Book upgrade represents, among other things, another significant contribution to the sustainability case for steel, showing how specifying a higher grade of steel can mean a design that uses less steel, so lowering carbon. This chimes with the BCSA Roadmap to net zero strategy which places an emphasis on design efficiency as a key way to reduce carbon. High strength steel is also mentioned in the recent NSSS Annex J Sustainability specification, and will be touched on in the above mentioned sustainable procurement guide.

As the pressure to combat climate change grows, we can expect the strong sustainability messages of steel construction to receive an increasingly warm welcome from developers and potential end users of buildings. Expect to see this reflected in future Market Shares surveys over the coming years.

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