Investing in sustainability
Life cycle or whole life costing is gaining traction with government and private developers as the
world increasingly focusses on tackling climate change.
Extinction Rebellion captures headlines but the sometimes-awkward questions about what
buildings and other structures really cost the environment are increasingly being asked by
developers and construction professionals. The steel sector is playing its part in coming up with
some of the answers.
As BCSA President Tim Outteridge says in his column in this issue of NSC, steel is not a cost but
an investment. And that is in both cash and environmental terms. Steel is consistently proven to be
the most cost-effective framing solution for multi-storey buildings in independent surveys, using
significantly less materials in the foundations due to its relatively low self-weight.
In the future, when other buildings might be heading for demolition due to being worn out or
being unable to be adapted to changing requirements, steel-framed buildings score sustainability
points by being easy to adapt and easy to extend. If financial or other demands make demolition
unavoidable none of the steel will be dumped in a landfill - it retains a value as scrap material is
needed in the steelmaking process and steel sections can often be reused in another building. Many
developers know this already, others might adopt a steel-framed solution for the first time after they
drill down into the costs.
In this month’s issue of NSC the projects we look at all contain evidence of the whole life
cost benefits of steel. The new Hilton Garden Inn on the edge of the environmentally sensitive
Snowdonia National Park will be a four-storey, 106 bedroom base for exploring the Park and the
rest of northern Wales, where steel was selected after a value engineering exercise revealed its
cost benefits over alternatives. The site is a former aluminium rolling and casting works, now being
Lower cost as well as a more sustainable lower building weight also swung the decision towards
a steel frame at the 12-storey Building S1, the second of a pair of buildings at London’s King’s Cross,
following closer scrutiny of what was originally a post-tensioned concrete design. Future change
of use is accommodated by allowing in the design for additional steelwork to be installed if future
tenants want an uninterrupted floorplate rather than the current numerous staircase openings and
At Eleven York Street in Manchester, an eight-storey building featuring clear spans and aiming at a
BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, a steel core has delivered programme benefits, meaning the project team
didn’t have to wait for a concrete contractor to finish its work before beginning the steel erection, as
it was all part of the same programme. The use of cellular beams maximised floor-to-ceiling heights
and having regular holes provides future flexibility for changed service requirements.
All of these show that investing in steel is also an investment in a sustainable future.
Nick Barrett - Editor
Gold sponsors: Ficep UK Ltd | National Tube Stockholders and Cleveland Steel & Tubes |
Peddinghaus Corporation | voestalpine Metsec plc | Wedge Group Galvanizing Ltd
Silver sponsors: Jack Tighe Ltd | Kaltenbach Limited | Tata Steel | Trimble Solutions (UK) Ltd
Bronze sponsors: AJN Steelstock Ltd | Barnshaw Section Benders Limited | Hempel | Joseph Ash Galvanizing |
Jotun Paints | Sherwin-Williams | Tension Control Bolts Ltd | Voortman Steel Machinery
For further information about steel construction and Steel for Life please visit
www.steelconstruction.info or www.steelforlife.org
Steel for Life is a wholly owned subsidiary of BCSA