Advanced Case Studies in Sustainable Design

Terri Meyer Boake B.E.S. B.Arch. M.Arch.

Associate Professor School of Architecture University of Waterloo


National Works Yard, Vancouver, LEED Gold

Steel in Green Building


Understanding the Sustainable Potential of Steel:

The steel industry is very aware of the need to reduce CO2 emissions and avoid the depletion of our natural resources. Involved in recycling and reuse initiatives since the turn of the century, the steel industry has reduced its energy consumption on several steel processes and its CO2 emission by more than 20% since 1990.

Great efforts are being made to create and understand the sustainable potential of steel. The selections below will give you more industry and institute specific information about the general "greenness" of steel.

Since HSS steel tubes are manufactured using plate steel, this information is relevant to the choice to employ HSS in your architectural project.

Measuring the sustainability of the steel used in a project can be based on three premises:

• how much of the steel is derived from recycled content?
• a lighter structure using HSS means less steel used
• a steel building can be designed for deconstruction and reuse
• steel is often available "locally", therefore reducing transportation effects

Steel can be reused from project to project. For more information on reusing steel, please visit: www.reuse-steel.org


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Images added Spring 2006

Stratus Winery

Les Andrew Architect
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

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First LEED Canada Silver


City of Vancouver National Works Yard

Omicron Architecture Engineering Construction Services Ltd.

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Elisa Jansen, Rose Linseman, Jessica Liefl, Caroline Howes

Permanent Bigtop for the Cirque de Soleil

Montreal, Quebec

going for LEED Gold

web article 1

Rebecca Lai, Sarah Khalid, Ping Pai, Elaine Lui

Mountain Equipment Coop

MTF Architectes
Montreal, Quebec

web article 1
www.mec.ca-montreal store

Leona Dobbie, Taylor Ohlsson, Justin Perdue, Michael Schmidt

Information Technology Building, University of Ottawa

IKOY Architects
Ottawa, Ontario

article in Canadian Architect

Carlos Medina, Joel DiGiacomo, John Williamson, Marianna Decola

APEGBC Headquarters
Burnaby, BC

Busby + Associates, Keen Engineering

web article 1
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Evguenia Chevchenko, John Armstrong, Jen Green, Rob Micacchi

The Angus Technopole
Montreal, Quebec

Ædifica Architecture + Engineering + Design

Canadian Green Building Challenge Submission 2000
gbc 2K link

article in Canadian Architect January 2001
images in Canadian Architect January 2001


Elaine Catane, Miriam Ho, Charles Li, Kyle Slote

Caisse du Depots et Placement:

Eric Gauthier Architect, Montreal, Quebec

article in Canadian Architect January 2004


Semiahmoo Library and RCMP District Headquarters, Surrey, B.C.

Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership

web article 1

LEED Silver

John Lee, Michael Lin, Christina Man, Gillian Tyrrell

Lillis Business School, University of Oregon

Eugene, Oregon
LEED Silver

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Calculating the Recycled Content of Steel:

Since one of the main benefits of steel is its inherent recyclability, it is important to understand the differences in recycled content arising from the varied methods of producing steel.

The integrated mill produces steel with the BOF (Basic Oxygen Furnace) while the mini-mill's process is based on the EAF (Electric Arc Furnace). The BOF uses 25% recycled steel (up to 35%) and the EAF is fed 90% recycled steel (up to 100%). Adding the post-consumer and half the post-industrial recycled contents will generally provide a 15-20% LEED™ value for a BOF and 75-90% for an EAF. Most North American structural steel, with the exception of some plates and coils, are produced using the EAF. Note that both BOF and EAF processes are needed for a global sustainable environment.

The Steel Recycling Institute has prepared a chart illustrating the sources of recycled steel. ...link...

"Steel Takes LEED With Recycled Content". ...link...


Industry Information:

Reusing Steel:

The Steel Recycling Institute:

The American Institute of Steel Construction:

Sustainable Development in the World Steel Industry :: American Iron and Steel Institute

The US Green Building Council:

The Canadian Green Building Council:

Articles on Sustainable Issues with Steel Construction:

Advantage Steel: Sustainable Steel Feature Issue
Canada | 2004 Canadian Institute of Steel Construction

Structural Steel Contributions Towards Obtaining a LEED™ Rating
by OWP/P Architects

USA | 05/2003 Modern Steel Construction
An excellent "how-to" article framed within the LEED™ rating system for achieving sustainable results.
www.aisc.org/sustainability > links to pdf document

The Real Deal: Sustainable Steel
by Christopher Hewitt
USA | 09/2003 Modern Steel Construction
Beyond embodied energy comparisons, there are a number of ways that the steel structural system can contribute to a sustainable design.
www.aisc.org/sustainability > links to pdf document

Sustainability and Steel I: Integration
by Sylvain Boulanger and Sylvie Boulanger
Canada | 01/2004 Canadian Architect
From the onset of conceptual development, steel contributes towards sustainability most efficiently when its design is integrated with other building systems and conditions. Paper includes pointers on achieving LEED™ points in categories other than Materials.
www.canadianarchitect.com/issues > links to html archive

Sustainability and Steel II: Recovery
by Sylvie Boulanger and Sylvain Boulanger
Canada | 03/2004 Canadian Architect
Recovery strategies implies reuse of an existing structure or recycling of steel products, extending the sustainable life of a structure and the material through multiple recovery cycles, thereby honouring the "from cradle to cradle" concept. Paper includes pointers on achieving LEED™ points in Materials.
www.canadianarchitect.com/issues> links to html archive
> long unedited version

LEED™, a primer
by Terri Meyer Boake and Caroline Prochazka

Canada | 01/2004 Canadian Architect
An overview of sustainable design categories in the LEED™ context.
www.canadianarchitect.com > links to html archive

Life Cycle Inventory
Belgium | 1999/2000 - IISI
The IISI LCI Study is a cradle-to-gate LCI- an inventory quantifying inputs and emissions related to the production of a range of steel products, from raw materials extraction up to and including manufacturing. Data were collected for the years 1999/2000 for 50 sites around the world, making this study one of the most representative LCI's ever undertaken for a material.

Steel in Sustainable Construction - IISI World Conference 2002
Belgium | 2002 - IISI
Papers from the conference which focussed on: what sustainable development means for the construction industry; raising awareness about sustainable construction and its business benefits; how steel construction solutions can contribute to more sustainable development.
www.sustainablesteel.org/papers > links directly to conference papers

A Never Ending Story: The Multiple Recovery Cycles of Steel
by Gregory L. Crawford
NASCC Conference Proceedings 2005
links to pdf document

Recovery Strategies to Bypass the Grave
by Sylvie Boulanger and David MacKinnon
NASCC Conference Proceedings 2005
links to pdf document

Building Case Studies:

A Perfect Match
by Beth S. Pollack
USA | 02/2004 Modern Steel Construction
Creating a modern "green" space for the Media and Technology Charter High School (MATCH) in Boston served a dual purpose, by creating an environmentally friendly building and by setting an example to students.
www.aisc.org/sustainability > link to pdf document

Back to School
by Beth S. Pollack
USA | 06/2004 Modern Steel Construction
The Lillis Business School at the University of Oregon in Eugene used HSS to create an open and airy lobby and focal point for a building whose first priority was sustainable design.
www.aisc.org/sustainability > link to pdf document

Design for Deconstruction
by Michael Pulaski, Christopher Hewitt, Michael Horman, Ph.D. and Bradley Guy
USA | 06/2004 Modern Steel Construction
An important part of the sustainable design of any building is to consider it full life cycle, including its use at the end of its life.
www.aisc.org/sustainability > link to pdf document

Outdoors Inside
by Beth S. Pollack
USA | 06/2004 Modern Steel Construction
The Oregon Department of Forestry's new Operations Building uses HSS columns in an environmentally sensitive design.
www.aisc.org/sustainability > link to pdf document

Creative Quarters
by Beth S. Pollack with Fred Teitgen PE
USA | 06/2004 Modern Steel Construction
A steel framed addition to Harley Davidson's Willie G. Davidson Product Development Center in Wisconsin.
www.aisc.org/sustainability > link to pdf document

Green Again
by Rico Cedro AIA
USA | 02/2004 Modern Steel Construction
The renovation of a 1970s building in Michigan.
www.aisc.org/sustainability > link to pdf document

LEEDing the Way
by Bret Busse, P.E. and Scott Barney
USA | 09/2003 Modern Steel Construction
The first two buildings of a “green” office development in Lenexa, KS
demonstrate the viability of sustainable construction principles.
www.aisc.org/sustainability > link to pdf document

Industry Commitment:
Environmental Progress in the Steel Industry
The amount of energy required to produce a ton of steel decreased by almost 45% from 1975 to 2001 as a result of technological improvements and energy conservation measures.
scinews.steel-sci.org/articles/pdf/SSC.pdf (1.2 MB) link to pdf document

last updated June 27, 2006