Steel buildings are mainly renowned for their power and functionality. From economic (for some, the most important single factor) to functional versatility and flexibility, environmental, safety and even health factors, steel buildings provide purchasers with a comfort level that other construction methods can not match.
Steel frame buildings are lightweight, simpler to work with and require less people to construct. It is furthermore simpler to convey round a job site, so they have less damage to put on building employees who are putting simultaneously steel buildings.
Responsible architectural design should take into consideration environmental issues as well as cost. Because steel is the most recycled waste in North America, it is considered a green building material.
Steel is cost-competitive, performance-enhancing and environmentally advantageous. According to the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI), it takes about 40 to 50 mature trees to build a 2,000 sf home from wood. It takes about six scrapped cars to build the same house out of steel. More steel is recycled
annually than paper, aluminum, glass and plastic combined.
The steel framing production process uses a minimum of 25% of recycled steel (often much more), and even all-new steel contains some recycled steel. The steel industry has made tremendous improvements to reduce pollution produced from mining, processing and steel-making waste.
Steel waste has scrap value and is readily accepted by scrap yards for recycling. Timber waste has much less recycling value than steel. The timber industry also impacts wildlife, soil, water and other resources during growing, harvesting, clear-cutting, run-off and replanting plus pest control operations.
The cost and availability of timber is unpredictable because of increased land values and sustainability issues. In contrast, the cost of steel has remained stable for years and has recently decreased in price. Meanwhile, the steel industry continues to research and find more ways to use less energy during steel production.
ABILITY TO OFFER MORE FOR LESS – A steel structure will afford the highest level of safety in extreme weather situations, will outlast any wood-frame home, and be less expensive to build. Complicated designs such as cupolas, that would cost much more when fabricated in wood, take less time and materials with steel and therefore it is less costly to incorporate interesting details.
Steel homes can be designed and constructed with modular planning. Many of the parts can be pre-fabricated and then assembled on-site. With this system, completing the job takes less time, and therefore is cost-efficient for both the builder and the buyer. Modular designs offer another big plus. Every home, although primarily constructed from similar elements, can be customized inside and out and still be cost-efficient.
Because a structure built with steel beams is anchored with screws rather than nails, in the event of a remodel, a module (or section) can be disconnected and re-positioned without damage to the basic structure. It is possible to re-position or add an entire section; even raise a roof to add a second floor, at a much lower cost than tearing down and rebuilding a wood frame home.
Florida, California and Hawaii are states regularly subjected to hurricanes, earthquakes, termite infestations and mold, and were among the first to acknowledge the many benefits of steel framing. It is now obvious that steel, long recognized as the standard for commercial structures, is equally beneficial as a residential material.
SAFETY IN STRENGTH AND STABILITY
Steel has the highest strength to weight ratio of any building material; 25 times greater than wood. It does not warp, split, twist, swell or shrink in reaction to moisture content. Steel is dimensionally stable and will not “settle.” As opposed to wood, the steel manufacturing process ensures consistent strength. Steel has a higher ductility, therefore being capable of undergoing changes of form without breaking while absorbing high stress loads as in an earthquake or extreme wind velocity. Connections within a steel frame structure are less susceptible to fail or weaken over time because there is no material shrinkage or decrease in strength of aging base material.
SAFETY IN NON-COMBUSTIBLE MATERIALS
Steel framing is non-combustible. It does not burn. Structural steel members in a fire will eventually deform and reach a critical point of failure, but they will not provide additional fuel nor perpetuate fire growth. The fire rating mandated by code is consistent and does not fluctuate, as is often the case with wood.
SAFETY FROM HIGH HEAT AND COOLING BILLS WITH PROPER INSULATION
Though steel is more heat-conducive than wood, proper application of insulation materials to surround the steel reduces the rate of heat transfer and nullifies any warm-weather heat concerns. The insulation used is non-combustible and does not produce smoke nor toxic gases when subjected to elevated temperatures. These insulation materials are long-lasting, have uniform characteristics
and sufficient bond strength and durability to resist weathering and erosion. ARC uses expandable foam insulation, which also strengthens walls as it creates a solid plane, and at the same time acts as a superior sound baffle. The costs of this type of insulation from a life-cycle perspective will usually be lower because their benefits continue much longer over the life of the home.
SAFETY FROM HIGH MAINTENANCE
Safety from insect, humidity and mold Damage. In warm, wet regions such as Florida, wood structures suffer billions of dollars of damage yearly from mold, termite and other insect infestation. Steel is impervious to insects, and because it is non-porous, does not offer host cavities for mold to form, thereby eliminating the worry of structural damage.