Why Recycled Steel Buildings Save Time, Money & the Environment

Published January 8, 2018 by Whirlwind Team

recycled steel building

If you build with steel, you can simultaneously save time, money and the environment. This epic hat-trick is possible due to the physical qualities of steel and innovation in coatings and manufacturing. Steel construction has grown in popularity over the years and continues its upward trend.

Always availability

Traditional construction material costs and availability fluctuate with demand, but steel remains readily available. Steel scrap and deconstructed steel structures are taken for recycling every day. New steel is created from virgin and recycled steel constantly. The supply is nearly self-sustaining.

Traditional construction with wood, concrete and masonry creates scrap and waste that cannot be recycled and a project can take twice as long as it would with a prefabricated steel building. While trees can be considered a renewable resource, consider that it takes 20 to 40 years to grow a tree to maturity.

  • To provide constant access to wood, American forests must continually be harvested, reseeded and regrown in phases.
  • If a wildfire takes out part of the forest or disaster strikes such that the need for lumber suddenly increases, there is no way to speed up growth.
  • Concrete cannot be reused.
  • Stone must be quarried and transported long distances and after demolition may not be in the desired quantity, size or shape needed for another project.

Only steel is rapidly and readily available, plus it can be completely recycled without any loss of strength.

The perks of Metal Building prefabrication

Pre-engineered steel buildings wouldn't be possible without steel. Steel is not only strong enough to transport after it has been manufactured into panels and beams, but it also provides design flexibility and versatility. When building with steel, you start with specifications developed to create a customized building that exactly matches your needs.

Certainly, there are prefabricated stock buildings you can buy "off the shelf" or as turn-key solutions, but you aren’t limited to those designs. You have your pick of architectural styles, wall and roof design elements, colors and textures.

Design & price your metal building online »

Savings during prefabrication begin with the engineer who creates your building using specialized software that helps optimize the weight of the steel in each component. More steel is placed in components that will be under high stress, and less is in low-stress members.

Costs are kept under control through the efficient use of material. The fabrication includes all welding plates for the rafters and columns and the secondary framing members. Some components are pre-assembled before the building kit leaves the manufacturer.

Material optimization, rework elimination and pre-assembly all reduce costs through the minimization of time and labor for the construction crew.

saving with recycled steel buildings

Savings at the site

Once delivered, a prefabricated building is bolted up rapidly, moving construction along 30% more quickly than traditional construction. Construction with pre-manufactured buildings is often called fast track or design-build construction.

Your project can get underway just as soon as the approvals are secured and financing locked in.

Further steel building savings are realized in the reduction of rework.

  • Every part of the building is manufactured under strict quality-controlled conditions.
  • The members are formed and predrilled to fit together perfectly on the jobsite
  • The kit arrives with the appropriately sized fasteners.
  • The potential for rework due to misplaced fastener holes, members cut to the wrong size, and other errors are eliminated.

Finally, fast-track construction with prefabricated steel buildings yields less than 2% scrap, saving on haul-off costs.

Easy energy efficiency and minimal maintenance

Builders and owners who want to achieve LEED status rely on steel to provide multiple points towards any designation. If energy efficiency is at the top of your list, you should involve an energy design professional early in the design and planning process. Enlisting expert assistance ensures everyone works together toward the same goal.

 Energy efficiency is achieved using a variety of methods.

  • Steel is perfect for cool roofing panels coated in Galvalume(R) and finished with special infrared pigmented paint have both high reflectivity and high emissivity. A cool roof can save up to 40% on cooling costs.
  • Reflectivity refers to the reflection of solar energy away from the roof to keep it from heating the structure.
  • Emissivity is the action of radiating energy away from the roof in the form of light instead of heat to reduce the heat at the surface of the roof.
  • Insulation is easily inserted between interior columns and under roof panels to keep the interior environment at a steady temperature.

Beyond energy savings, steel buildings require little maintenance. Keep the roof clean by washing it down annually and inspecting the gutter system. Other roofing systems can cost as much as 20 cents per square foot per year in repairs. Steel buildings are so durable that repairs are few and far between. Steel saves you on insurance as well since it resists fire, performs well in earthquakes, and other natural disasters.

A steel roof is usually warranted for 25 years and can last up to 35 or 40 while retaining 95% of its reflective properties over its lifecycle. Asphalt shingles, in comparison, only last 15 to 20 years and lose nearly half of their reflective properties (which is only 20% to begin with). If you decide to go solar and save even more on electricity, a steel roof is the material of choice. A new steel roof will outlast most photovoltaic cells, so you won’t have to remove your solar energy system prematurely to replace your roof.

Your recycled Metal building

We started off talking about the savings you can reap with a recycled steel building.

In reality, every steel building you see contains recycled steel, so purchasing recycled steel isn’t where you find your cost reduction. You save by choosing to build with steel. It’s simply the most cost-effective material to use. Period.

For even more savings, use steel because it provides increased energy efficiency, from the manufacturing of the steel to the performance of the completed building.

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