Products that create sustainable infrastructure

Posted on 08.06.15 by




The future demands vast investments in infrastructure – from roads, bridges and railways, to hospitals, clean energy generation, and water infrastructure. As a result, global commentators are increasingly looking at new and innovative approaches to building design and construction to ensure the resources used have the optimal impact over their lifespan.

By Alan Knight, general manager, corporate responsibility, ArcelorMittal

1426664677_dfd9401a41_zSteel has an important role to play here. That’s why, in this post, the third in our fortnightly series on sustainability, and within the framework of our recently-launched sustainability report, we set out what is needed to create products that create sustainable infrastructure.

Steel is strong enough to build skyscrapers, versatile enough to meet any construction challenge, and endlessly recyclable at the end of its useful life. Our innovations can ensure that modern infrastructure produces fewer carbon emissions and is more energy-efficient – from bridges, to railways, to the turbines used in the renewable energy sector.

Let’s take a step back and look at buildings in a bit more detail, and in particular at how steel can help make them more sustainable.

The buildings sector is extremely complex, and with numerous professions involved in the choice of material, it’s important we maintain an ongoing dialogue with our customers. That’s why our researchers work in close collaboration with designers and construction companies to ensure we meet their current needs and anticipate future trends.

ArcelorMittal is also a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development working group on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, and has productive long-term partnerships with prominent research institutions and universities around the world.

So, what exactly is the advantage steel has over other building materials?

The first benefit of using steel materialises even before construction starts. Using high-strength lightweight steel, such as our Histar® range, cuts the amount of materials needed and so less carbon is emitted in production and transportation. In fact, using lighter structures enable savings in greenhouse gases, with a 30 per cent reduction in carbon emissions during construction.

USembassyLdnBut the advantages offered by our products don’t end here. In fact, around 90 per cent of the carbon emissions associated with a traditional building occur after a building has been constructed, through the energy used to heat and light it. We offer products that also help make buildings more energy-efficient, reducing the cost of running them.

Examples include steel insulation panels filled with mineral wool that can be used as cladding in roofs and walls. They can also prevent thermal leakage and improve acoustic insulation, while providing structural strength. We have also developed roofing products with built-in solar panels, such as Phoster. With Phoster, for the first time, steel will not only serve as the outer layer of buildings, it will also produce energy.

We have also designed our own ISO-compliant software, LicaBuilt®, which allows designers to assess the lifecycle impacts of buildings and construction products such as facades in terms of their water consumption and waste generation, carbon emissions and energy efficiency.

CR Blog outcome 3As a result of these kinds of developments, the emissions of a new low-carbon building are considerably reduced.

Our researchers and engineers are also continuously working to replace hazardous compounds from our products. Six of the products in our ‘Nature’ range of pre-painted steels were awarded the European Coil Coating Association’s new ‘premium’ quality and sustainability label in 2014, in recognition of our efforts to reduce the use of hazardous compounds in our coatings. In South Africa, we launched Chromadek®, a colour-coated roofing product that eliminates chromium VI by dispensing with the need for either pre-treatment or primer.

These are just some of the solutions ArcelorMittal is currently providing to the building sector, but as you read this, many more are already in the pipeline to help us continue to create sustainable infrastructure in the future. This is one of the ways in which ArcelorMittal truly is transforming tomorrow – for many generations to come.

To learn more about how we are creating products for sustainable infrastructure:

> Read about the road ahead in ArcelorMittal’s 2014 sustainability report
> Learn about our sustainability outcome on sustainable infrastructure
> Catch-up on previous posts in this series:

Steel: the sustainability challenge, Safe, healthy, quality lives for our people and neighbours, and Pioneering products for sustainable lifestyles

Image credits: Chi King, Flickr; US Embassy London, Flickr.