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Working Toward a Carbon-Free Steel | Architect Magazine

Blaine Brownell looks at ongoing efforts by the steel industry to reduce its carbon footprint.

courtesy SSAB SSAB's fossi-free steel
courtesy SSAB SSAB’s fossi-free steel



Steel is one of the world’s most energy-intensive industries, contributing up to 11% of global CO2 emissions. The ubiquitous material is present in nearly every building, and construction represents more than half of global steel demand. When we think of steel in buildings, we tend to conjure framing; however, most steel is used for elements other than the primary structure. According to the World Steel Association, reinforcing bars account for 44% of steel in buildings, followed by sheet products at 31%, and structural sections at 25%. Because steel is pervasive, has such a significant emissions impact, and continues to grow in demand—global crude steel production saw an increase of 11.6% last year—any serious effort to decarbonize buildings must include measurable progress to reduce steel’s carbon footprint.

Thankfully, such efforts are underway. According to a 2020 McKinsey study, four factors are driving improvements in steel’s environmental performance: the 2015 Paris Agreement, tightened carbon emission regulations, increased investor demand, and growing market support for climate-friendly steel products. Based on an analysis of 20 global steel producers, the report estimates that approximately 14% of the global steel industry’s potential value is tied to the ability to reduce its environmental impact. This value ranges between 2% and 30% for individual steel producers, making it unsurprising that the steel industry is taking decarbonization seriously, for both economic and environmental reasons.

courtesy Tata Steel An illustration of Tata Steel's decarbonization plan
courtesy Tata Steel An illustration of Tata Steel’s decarbonization plan

Most steel manufacturers employ blast furnace (BF) technology to convert iron ore, coke, and limestone into crude iron and carbon dioxide.

Read on >>>> Source: Working Toward a Carbon-Free Steel | Architect Magazine

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