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4 Advantages of Specifying Steel Construction for LEED Projects

According to the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) and the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), there are numerous advantages of specifying steel construction for a LEED project.

In fact, the LEED system rewards the building industry for higher recycled steel content in their building materials. Steel is a natural fit for green building initiatives and can make the greatest contribution to the Materials and Resources LEED category that encourages using sustainable building materials and reducing waste.

As the worldwide demand for steel increases, the available scrap will be stretched among more and more steel products, meaning that more steel from virgin materials will enter the production stream to meet the demand. However, because of steel’s high recovery rate, more scrap will also be available for future recycling, thus minimizing the long-term amount of virgin material required.Steel is dimensionally stable and, when properly designed, can provide an exceptionally tight building envelope for less air loss and better HVAC performance over time.Steel is made to exact specifications, so on-site waste is minimized.Material from demolition or construction can be easily recycled, with the magnetic properties of steel greatly facilitating its separation from other materials.

Do you have experience with a LEED-registered project? Tell us about  your experience with steel's LEED benefits in the comments section below.

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Is LEED Certification Worth It?

The USGBC’s LEED rating system is the world’s most popular green building performance metric. LEED certification is the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability, and is the best way to demonstrate that a building project is truly “green.” Green (also known as green construction or sustainable) buildings refer to a structure and using process that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition.

Cost/benefit of a green building project:

According to the NRDC, Green building skeptics sometimes argue that it's difficult or even impossible to build green without paying a big cost premium. LEED Certification involves a massive amount of document production, review and verification. These certification costs could be better used toward materials capable of making the building even more sustainable.

Often when a LEED rating is pursued, the cost of initial design and construction rises. One reason for the higher cost is project designers may not fully understand sustainable construction principles. LEED is a design tool and not a performance measurement tool. Some of the finer points of LEED could possibly lead to misunderstandings between the design team, construction team, and client, which could result in construction delays.

LEED has been developed and continuously modified by workers in the green building industry; especially in the ten largest metro areas in the U.S. Unfortunately, LEED certified buildings have been slower to penetrate small and mid-major markets. Also, some criticism suggests that the LEED rating system is not sensitive and does not vary enough with regard to local environmental conditions. 

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