Sustainability and Light Steel Frame

We want to empower construction professionals to take a longer term view and develop light steel buildings that are not only safe for occupants and will stand the test of time but also intrinsically more sustainable for generations to come.

When you think of light steel construction, sustainability may not be the first thing that springs to mind. For many steel equates to safety, speed and strength, however the sustainability gains cannot be overlooked. 

Environmental discussions used to centre around lifecycle analysis. More recently debates have been concentrating on shorter-term embodied carbon calculations – just part of the equation. 

We strongly believe in a sustainable circular economy – recycling, reuse and design for deconstruction are crucial factors in the net zero debate. The circular economy drives vast benefits for us, our planet and is way too important to be ignored.

Our mission here at the LSFA is to counter misconceptions by focusing on the facts.

Light Steel Frame – Sustainability Fact File

Did you know?

Manufactured from the most abundant material on earth, steel can be recycled or reused endlessly without detriment to its properties. This unique characteristic gives steel a high value at all stages of its lifecycle. 

The recovery infrastructure for steel recycling is highly developed. Current recovery rates from demolition sites in the UK are 99% for structural steelwork and 96% for all steel construction products – figures that far exceed those for any other construction material.

According to SCI, in the UK we are largely self-sufficient in steel. Demonstrating the circular economy benefits of light steel technology, we can virtually produce all the steel we need through recycling our latent stock to satisfy market demand. 

Offering the best strength-to-weight ratio improves efficiencies – you get a lot of structure for relatively little weight cutting carbon in construction. Lighter structures not only reduce material consumption but also concrete in the ground. Foundation loads are reduced by over 70% when compared to concrete and block-work approaches.

The lighter weight also reduces transport requirements. A full light steel panelised structure for a typical four-bedroom house can be delivered in one load. Reducing disruption from onsite traffic and cutting carbon emissions.

Using design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) protocols integrated with Building Information Modelling (BIM), light steel buildings are virtually designed and digitally tested to create highly airtight structures.

Airtight structures retain heat and cut in-use energy requirements and carbon emissions. Saving money for occupants and reducing environmental impact for the lifetime of the building.

According to the Green Building Council, UK construction is one of the largest consumers of materials and produces more waste than any other sector. Digitally savvy, the light steel industry is more technically advanced than other material sectors. This approach optimises material use and eliminates onsite waste as factory offcuts are recycled or reused.   

Design life predictions for light steel systems in a ‘warm frame’ environment are in excess of 250 years. Adding longevity to the sustainability equation, light steel is immensely strong and designed to stand the test of time.

Designing for deconstruction is on the increase and an important factor in the circular economy. Delivering long-term material savings, DfD is a key piece of the sustainability jigsaw – cutting carbon and waste in construction.

Advanced light steel systems are a fundamental part of the circular economy and reducing environmental impact. Through virtually eliminating waste and delivering highly energy efficient buildings, light steel systems support net zero carbon targets.


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