The green building movement is spreading swiftly as more members of the construction industry come to realize the benefits of sustainable design and construction practices.  Not only does “building green” support the longevity of the earth’s environment, but it also increases the quality of the built environment as well.


The sustainability of structural steel is multi-faceted.  It has long been lauded for its strength, durability, and functionality, but it is also the United States’ most widely recycled material.  Structural steel produced in the United States contains 93.3% recycled steel scrap, and at the end of a building’s life, 98% of all structural steel is reclaimed and recycled into new steel products.  What’s more, steel is unique in that it can be “multi-cycled” (i.e. recycled multiple times) without loss of its physical properties, making it the only true cradle-to-cradle framing material.


Under the LEED Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, structural steel receives maximum credit for its contribution to a structure's overall rating.  In addition to steel’s high recycled content and reclamation rate, it has many other benefits that can be instrumental in attaining LEED credentials. Convenient integration of mechanical systems leads to lower floor-to-floor heights, less building volume, and lower energy consumption; it has a low carbon footprint; and it is made to exact specifications so on-site waste is minimized.


Stearns' involvement  provides many opportunities to build sustainably: 

  • Our design involvement allows for minimizing the materials used and looking for configurations that will improve the sustainability of the structure. 

  • Open-web joists and metal deck systems are strong but lightweight - providing durability without excess material. 

  • Cellular and castellated beams are also light relative to their strength, facilitate the movement of light and air through the structure (thus often necessitating less use of electrical lighting and HVAC), and allow mechanical systems to pass through the holes in the beams (leading to lower floor-to-floor heights, less building volume, lower energy consumption, and optimizing the efficiency of the structure as a whole).  

  • Our procurement and logistics experts coordinate fabrication facilities with the job site location to minimize travel distance.

  • Optimize loads to minimize the fuel needed for transportation.

  • Seek out the most efficient modes of transportation to minimize environmental impact. 



The Sustainable Aspects of Structural Steel

Steel Takes LEED with Recycled Content