AISC and Others Represent Steel at Greenbuild

The SteelDay steel sculpture displayed in the steel booth at Greenbuild captured the attention of architects with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Department of Labor, as SRI's Dave Keeling looks on. The sculpture emmulating the iconic photo of ironworkers having lunch on a steel beam during construction of New York's Rockefeller Center in the early 1930s was created by Kevin Chen of Arup structural engineers, San Francisco. 

AISC, the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) and the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) teamed up to showcase the sustainable benefits of steel at this year’s Greenbuild. The premier event for sustainable building, the event was held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., and drew close to 20,000 attendees. And many visited the steel booth to get more information or discuss how they design and build with steel, as well as learn about its sustainable attributes.

“Roughly a third of the steel in North America—and half of the steel produced worldwide—is used in construction,” said SMDI’s vice president of sustainability, Mark Thimons. “This means, however, that steel is so ubiquitous that even people who spend their days immersed in green building topics rarely stop to consider how well it demonstrates meaningful sustainability throughout its life cycle. That’s one of the things we’re trying to emphasize here.”

AISC vice president John Cross commented that while attendees are clearly focused on the environmental performance of buildings, they were still wary of how upcoming elections may affect the green building movement. “Many attendees seemed to have an unsettled attitude focused around the twin concerns of the level of traction that will be gained by LEED V4 in the marketplace and the impact that the coming change in administration will have on government policy related to environmental and sustainable concerns—particularly if a candidate is elected that rejects the relationship between CO2 emissions and global climate change,” he said.

One prominent topic at the show was the continuing trend of millennials moving into cities and the need to meet the needs of this influx of new residents—a clear opportunity for both new, multi-story construction as well as structural rehabilitation and expansion of existing buildings. Another was that of resiliency/environmentalism as a societal issue. Academy Award-winning director James Cameron, a keynote speaker, stressed the idea that climate change could further destabilize parts of the world where it will cause the most damage, but noted that business can lead the way and that the bottom line can’t be a business’ only consideration.

USGBC and GBCI CEO Rick Fedrizzi, who will be succeeded by current COO Mahesh Ramanujam at the end of 2016, echoed that sentiment at the show’s opening plenary session, pointing out that business/manufacturing and green are not mutually exclusive. “The environment and the economy are tied together,” he stated. “They share a common enemy: waste.”