Challenging assumptions about material specification
Specification decisions are made with the best of intentions. For a variety of reasons, however, they can be influenced by myths and assumptions about materials that mean the long-term impact of the decision is actually worse than the specifier intended in the first place.
It is essential to use building life cycle analysis (LCA), informed by Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for individual materials and products, to get an understanding of whole life performance. This ensures resource efficiency and the lowest carbon emissions in the long-term - not just in the early stages of a building’s life.
Learning about issues within the supply chain can help to inform the specification decisions that will have the best long-term impact, rather than deliver future unintended consequences that will make a project less sustainable at precisely the time when sustainable construction will be relied upon the most.
Tackling misconceptions about steel specification
Aside from the issue of low upfront carbon materials contributing to increased carbon emissions, there are some specific misconceptions about specifying steel that can lead to their own unintended consequences.
A significant one is the availability of scrap steel. While virtually all steel is recycled, it takes time for steel components to reach the end of their life and re-enter the manufacturing process. The current volumes of scrap steel in the market mean that specifying recycled steel could result in it being sourced from elsewhere in the world, adding emissions related to processing and transportation, and reducing the availability of reporting information.
And because the percentage of scrap steel that is recycled is so high, specifying recycled steel for your project will not encourage more recycling. Rates of recycling are already as high as they can be - the issue is the volume of scrap steel available.
For this reason, new steel must continue to be produced, so that there is enough volume to be recycled in future. A mix of primary and secondary steelmaking will ensure robust supply chains within the local market, supporting the economy. That is why Tata Steel is investigating every avenue for reducing emissions from steel manufacturing, while continuing to recycle scrap steel.
Importance of working with a manufacturer
Nobody knows the steelmaking process better than Tata Steel. Our commitment to transparent reporting and supply chain certification and certification as an EPD operator means we can provide bespoke EPDs to help you to assess the whole life impact of steel components in your specifications.
We provide designers and specifiers with a comprehensive range of digital tools that ensure the right product is specified for the right application, delivering the optimum structural performance and energy efficiency, all backed up by comprehensive specifications and guarantees.
By working with Tata Steel to help deliver your project, you can specify steel components with confidence, knowing that you are acting today to protect tomorrow and minimising the risk of future unintended consequences.