Steel Buildings – Can They Be Green Buildings?

If you’ve ever been inside an uninsulated steel building in the middle of summer, you know how hot it can get inside.

But can steel buildings still be a good choice for green building? Apparently, they can.

Let’s look at some features of steel buildings that could be considered eco-friendly, or green.

Steel does take a lot of energy to make. But it’s also easy to recycle, and it actually gets recycled, because it costs a lot. In fact, steel is the most recycled material on earth. Just about all steel that you buy also has high levels of recycled content.

Steel has a longer life cycle than wood or other materials, so they don’t need to be repaired or replaced as often. Some steel buildings have manufacturer structural guarantees of 50 years.

And when the day finally comes for a steel building to be torn down, all of that steel is going to get recycled yet again.

Heating and cooling loss around doors, windows, foundation and roofing can be a lot lower with steel buildings than with other types of building materials, because of how well steel buildings fit together.

Metal roofs are cool roofs, when they are painted the right color or reflective. Check out the Energy Star website and you’ll see a large number of metal roofs listed as Energy Star compliant.

And check out the LEED points that you can earn with a steel building.

The University of Connecticut’s steel building was the first athletic building in the United States to earn LEED Gold status.

In Canada, Steelcare Inc.’s 50,000 square foot steel building was the first industrial building in the country to achieve LEED Canada Gold.

Air quality can also be better inside a metal building, because steel doesn’t offgas. With the right paint, there will not be any VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

But what about that incredibly hot metal building I was talking about before? It didn’t have insulation!

Insulation is key with metal buildings, and there are many different ways to insulate them effectively. Reflective insulation in particular works well with steel buildings.

Interested in learning more? Here’s a good article about metal buildings and energy efficiency from a trade publication for building operations management .

Anyone have any experience with steel buildings that have either Energy Star or LEED certification? Please leave a comment and tell us about it.

Rooftop gardens offer hope in India


Photo courtesy of fastfoodforthought at Flickr.com.

Rooftop gardens, which are also sometimes called “Green Roofs”, have been encouraged in the developed world as a way of moderating urban temperature and rain water flood surges. In India, a new program is developing rooftop gardens with different goals in mind.

Rooftop gardens offer urban farmers a chance to turn squalor into nutrition. Equally important, they offer diversity to the household income. In a country where many women and low-caste men are often shut out from job opportunities, green roofs can do more than minimize the impact of weather.


Photo courtesy of /\ltus at Flickr.com.