The advantages that steel offers to the construction sector have long been recognised by designers and specifiers. This is demonstrated by steel’s market share which, over the past 20 years, has increased to over 90% for single-storey industrial buildings and to more than 70% for multi-storey non-residential buildings.
The versatility of steel gives architects the freedom to achieve their most ambitious visions. Structural steel is an essential component of most stadia, shopping centres and commercial developments; steel cladding systems adorn iconic, landmark structures worldwide.
Steel is one of the most sustainable construction materials. Its strength and durability coupled with its ability to be recycled, again and again, without ever losing quality make it truly compatible with long term sustainable development.
Building owners value the flexibility of steel buildings, and the value benefits they provide, such as the light, open, airy spaces that can be created, making it ideal for modernisation, reconfiguring, extending or adapting with minimal disruption, and without costly and sometimes harmful demolition and redevelopment. Even without these benefits, steel is often the first choice on the basis of cost alone. Many of the advantages of steel construction are applicable to all building types and sectors.
In this article the case is made for steel construction in four key areas:
1. Speed of Construction
Steel structures can be erected speedily. The predictability and accuracy of steel components speeds up the process and allows follow-on trades to get to work sooner. This deliver time saves in the build programme compared to a concrete frame. In fact, speed of erection is often one of the main criteria for selecting steel.
In many inner city projects, it is also important to reduce disruption to nearby buildings and roads. Short construction periods leads to savings in site preliminaries, earlier return on investment and reduced interest charges.
Time related savings can easily amount to between 3% and 5% of the overall project value, reducing the client’s requirements for working capital and improving cash flow.
2. Cost Savings in a Competitive Market
In inflation adjusted terms, steel has fallen in price since 1980 and is cheaper than it was 15 years ago. Huge productivity advances have also been achieved throughout the steel supply chain and the cost saving benefits shared with customers.
One of the best guarantees of a competitive price is the large number of steelwork contractors that can tender for projects. A competitive sector ensures that customers get value for money. There are some 130 audited steelwork contractor members of the BCSA, all of which deliver high quality projects that consistently delight their clients.
3. Long-Life Durability
Steel-framed structures are highly durable and do not age or decay as quickly as other construction materials, lasting longer before refurbishment is required. Buildings that can be easily adapted avoid costly and environmentally harmful demolition and redevelopment. Steel’s inherent adaptability and flexibility also means that future changes or extensions – even vertically – can be carried out with minimal disruption and cost.
4. Health and Safety
Health and safety is a key business driver in construction. Offsite fabrication of components and rapid on-site assembly by skilled personnel make steel an inherently safe construction material. Industry surveys consistently demonstrate that steel is the safest material choice. The steel construction sector has put in place a number of measures to ensure its continued excellent H&S track record. These include:
- To help small to medium sized steelwork contractors, a health and safety advisory service called Safety in Steel Construction (SiSC) has been launched, giving access to direct and regular monitoring and advice.
- The BCSA has introduced the Safe Site Handover Certificate (SSHC) which is supported by the HSE. The SSHC has improved communication between all parties involved and acts as a monitoring aid during the programme of works, covering site conditions and steel erection, ensuring that site risks are minimised.
- The Steel Construction Certification Scheme (SCCS) is UKAS accredited, offering management systems certification services specifically tailored for the steel industry. A wide range of audits are carried out on quality, environmental, safety management and factory production control systems.
Article supplied by www.steelconstruction.info