The world is moving towards more green initiatives, and that doesn’t just apply to consumer products. Even in the construction industry, you can find a growing interest in green building.
Green building refers to a structure and the processes involved in creating that structure that is more environmentally conscious. Now, often, people associate green buildings with wood structures. However, steel structures may actually be greener than wooden ones.
What Is the Environmental Impact of Wood Structures?
Wood is a natural material. It’s a renewable resource, so harvesting doesn’t have the same permanent negative impact that other natural material harvesting may have. Wood is also a great insulator. It’s also a material that can be easily shaped and cut to size, which makes it easy for humans to use for construction.
However, it’s not all pros for wood.
There are three main environmental impacts of wood in construction:
Land Use – this refers to the amount of land that is needed to grow the trees. The CO2 emissions are associated with getting the trees to market.
Harvesting – this refers to the emissions that are released when trees are harvested.
Transport and Manufacturing – the emissions that are released when the trees are turned into lumber and transported to market.
All of these processes have a negative impact on the environment, and all have to take into account the amount of CO2 that needs to be sequestered.
What Is the Environmental Impact of Steel Structures?
Steel is another natural material. While it is a mineral, it is a naturally occurring one and is often referred to as a renewable resource (although there is some debate on the matter). Steel is also a good insulator, which makes it a good material for construction.
In addition to being a good insulator, steel is also a very strong material. This means that it takes less material to make a structure than a wooden one. This means less steel has to be mined, fewer trees have to be cut down to make wood, and less pollution is released into the air.
The main environmental impacts of steel are:
Material Extraction – this is the energy that is used to mine the raw material for steel.
Manufacturing – this includes the energy that was used to manufacture steel.
Emissions – these are the emissions that are released when steel is produced and transported.
Like wood, it takes a lot of energy to produce steel, but perhaps not as much as wood. However, steel is more cost-effective. Therefore, the more cost-effective material is, the better it is for the environment.
Are Steel Structures Greener Than Wood Structures?
In short, yes, they are.
Steel structures may not be as natural as wood structures, but they’re much greener. They simply use less of the natural resources that we have and create less pollution than wood structures. Green building is about going with materials that are good for the planet, and steel structures have a smaller environmental impact than wood structures.
In a world that is becoming increasingly more aware of the impact that humans are having on the environment, the idea of a less damaging way to do construction is more and more appealing. In short, steel structures are greener than wood structures.
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