Steel: The Most Sustainable Choice

steel life cycle

Structural steel is 93% recycled and 100% recyclable, making it a material that is circular for generations. Instead of going to the landfill or an incinerator, decommissioned bridges and buildings go right back into the supply chain to become steel again and again.

Only American steel can do that.

Did You Know?

Structural steel is the premier green construction material.

All structural hot-rolled sections produced in the U.S., including typical wide-flange beams and columns, are made in electric arc furnaces. This technology uses electricity to melt cars, refrigerators, decommissioned bridges, and other scrap into new steel without any loss of quality. The average new member contains 93% recycled steel, and EAF steelmaking has 75% less emitted CO2 than traditional steelmaking.

The American steel industry is the least carbon-intensive of all major steel-producing countries.

The structural steel industry is serious about decarbonization--and its footprint will continue to decrease as the U.S. power grid becomes less dependent on fossil fuels. But American structural steel mills aren’t waiting for the power grid to catch up. They’re making their own public commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or intensity:

  • Nucor pledges to reduce greenhouse gas intensity by 35% by 2030.
  • Steel Dynamics pledges to go carbon neutral by 2050.
  • Cleveland Cliffs pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030.
  • Gerdau has just launched an 80-megawatt solar farm to generate clean, renewable electricity for its production line.

Your first car became a skyscraper.

Steel is the most recycled material on the planet. Choose structural steel to embrace the circular economy!


Extraordinary projects care for our planet today and into the future

These recent IDEAS² Award winners all have two things in common:
1. They're particularly conscious of the environment. 
2. They're really cool!

Watershed Building
Watershed Building, Seattle
Blue skies ahead for this office building and its stormwater treatment plant that can clean 400,000 gallons annually.

Net-Zero McDonald's QSR
Net-Zero McDonald's, Kissimmee, Fla.
Ronald and friends stay cool with natural shading and louver panels.

Saxum Vineyard Equipment Barn
Saxum Vineyard Equipment Barn, Paso Robles, Calif.
Pop the cork. This roof powers the entire winery--in fact, it creates one-third more power than needed.

Canyon View High School
Canyon View High School, Waddell, Ariz.
Solar structures go back to school--throwing shade while providing 20% of the school's power.

Mori Hosseini Student UnionMori Hosseini Student Union | Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Fla.
When it rains, it stores--rainwater, that is. The roof also provides solar shading.

L. Gale Lemerand Student Center
L. Gale Lemerand Student Center | Daytona State College, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Steel framing beats the heat by supporting bronze solar screens that naturally ventilate the façade.

Environmental Documentation with Nothing to Hide

Transparency matters. When choosing a sustainable structural material, you need the full story.

17Թ works with all of the largest mills in the country to develop accurate industry-wide environmental product declarations (EPDs) that consider a number of environmental impacts related to the manufacture of steel, including global warming potential, ozone depletion, acidification, eutrophication, and ozone creation. The EPDs represent more than 95% of all domestic structural production, which is a level of coverage unmatched by any other material.

excludes important carbon emission sources, like decomposing harvest waste, and the release of embodied carbon at the end of a product’s service life. Steel waste goes right back into the supply chain as scrap, supporting the circular economy for generations.

With steel, you get the complete picture.

Steel Solutions Center 

The Steel Solutions Center is for people who need technical assistance, innovative solutions, or tools to make structural steel design even easier.