Tata Steel took part in a presentation on Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) at the Ecobuild sustainable building event in London on March 20.
Tata Steel sustainability expert John Dowling covered the steel industry view of LCA and why it is vitally important to consider the whole life of buildings from cradle to grave.
“Many construction product manufacturers only look at cradle to gate LCA,” Dowling said. “This short-sighted approach neglects what will happen to a building at the end of its useful life such as the important issues of disposal, recycling and reuse.”
A recent Building and BD magazine publication “The Whole Story“ showed that 75% of concrete is downcycled into lesser products, such as sub-base, and 58% of timber goes to landfill. These figures compare with 99% of steel being recycled into products with the same or better characteristics and being reused. It is easy to see how greatly end-of-life scenarios affect the sustainability profile of a building.
Dowling’s presentation highlighted the benefit of a cradle-to-grave approach to LCA and how this can be used to identify areas where effort should be placed.
Dowling explained: “Analysis of a warehouse, recently carried out as part of Tata Steel’s Target Zero project, showed that the biggest impact on the carbon footprint of the building is the floor slab and foundations. These findings are important, as much effort in reducing the carbon footprint would otherwise be concentrated on the superstructure and envelope. By carrying out a cradle-to-grave analysis we can identify and concentrate on hot spots to increase sustainable construction.
“For manufacturers, environmental impacts and how to measure them are a major strategic issue and as designers come under increasing pressure to minimise environmental impacts they will look for manufacturers to provide consistent and robust Life Cycle Assessments. Good cradle-to-grave Life Cycle Assessment will provide an opportunity to differentiate products and improve their commercial value. This is as it should be and good environmental practice gets its rewards.”
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About Tata Steel in Europe
The European operations of Tata Steel (formerly known as Corus) comprise Europe's second largest steel producer. With main steelmaking operations in the UK and the Netherlands, they supply steel and related services to the construction, automotive, packaging, lifting & excavating, energy & power, and other demanding markets worldwide.
Tata Steel is one of the world’s top ten steel producers. The combined group has an aggregate crude steel capacity of more than 28 million tonnes and approximately 80,000 employees across four continents.