Steel is Green
The objective of “Green” certification programmes is to achieve sustainability per the myriad definitions that have been proposed. Steel is one of the most recycled materials in use today. Recycling is one path to sustainable infrastructure. However, the recycled content of steel is so ubiquitous that there is even talk of reducing the opportunity for project credits for common steel product use in a project. The various Green certifications that can be attained tend to have a progressive focus – what is valued as innovative today is common tomorrow. Progressive innovation is the key to achieving sustainability but social conscience is a driving motivator in making the decision to pursue it.
Changing occupancy is a simple and basic way to repurpose a building (e.g. turning a manufacturing facility into a warehouse). There are no added materials to achieve a new end function.
Renovate / Retrofit
Adding or removing materials in an existing building. Structurally, this may require reinforcements or it may be an energy beneficial upgrade. Adding thermally efficient wall or roof systems is one of the most common energy retrofit upgrades and can also provide new aesthetic appeal to a dated building façade.
New application of materials removed from an existing structure. This is growing in popularity but there are technical, schedule and economic issues about availability of previously used materials to suit project schedules
Disassemble an entire building and requalify it for assembly at a new location. There is a small, but active, broker industry working alongside the demolition companies. This works best with structures that are completely bolted assembly.
Certification programmes offer the opportunity to measure the success of a project compared to previous work. They also provide a measureable goal for the project partners to work toward. However, the certifications are only awarded after the project is completed and there is a cost to be involved. On the other hand, good planning and design is always the obligation of the professional and may achieve the same ends. You may not enjoy the prestige of a plaque in the entrance foyer but you will still reap the economic and social benefits of making the effort.
Innovative concepts for redistributing embodied energy and value can be achieved. Determining the most beneficial effort for your investment may require separating the snake oil from the mix or even knowing which existing technologies offer the best incremental return on investment (ROI). Paul Ransom Engineering works with qualified professionals to develop quantifiable, economically beneficial results.
For specific information, investigate these programmes:
- LEED® Canada – Building Rating Systems
- GREEN UP – Canada’s Building Performance Program
- Smart Growth – Policies and Principles for Sustainable Communities
- Living Building Challenge – Beyond LEED