America Already Makes Cleaner Structural Steel, AISC President Charles J. Carter Tells New York Times

American Institute of Steel Construction President Charles J. Carter, SE, PE, PhD, sent the following letter to the editor of The New York Times on Wednesday, March 17:

To the Editor:

Why does The New York Times continue to ignore the American structural steel industry? Article after article focuses on the older, dirtier European and Chinese steel industries while ignoring the American structural market that annually produces more than 4 million tons of the world’s cleanest, most environmentally friendly steel for buildings and bridges. The US steel industry has the lowest carbon intensity of the top seven leading steel-producing countries in the world--and that’s largely because we use a different technology that allows American beam producers to recycle old steel into new steel over and over again.

The most recent article, “How to Clean Up Steel? Bacteria, Hydrogen and a Lot of Cash” (March 17) focuses on European manufacturers’ efforts to replace coke with hydrogen while completely ignoring the fact that leading American companies like Nucor Corporation, Steel Dynamics Inc., and Gerdau don’t use coke at all to produce structural members.

American beam producers already rely on an entirely different, cleaner technology that uses electricity to make new structural steel beams by melting down old refrigerators, cars, and decommissioned buildings and bridges. In fact, new domestically produced structural beams consist of 93% recycled materials, on average--a remarkable feat that no other structural material has accomplished to date. While foreign producers are working to make their older basic oxygen furnace systems cleaner, American structural steel mills saw the future a generation ago and have been producing a high-quality product while reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistently over the past four decades.

While the new technology being explored by steel companies is admirable and needed, it’s important to recognize that the American steel already being used by the American construction industry is the greenest structural material available -- it’s greener than concrete and wood, has 93% recycled content, and is 100% recyclable.

For more information on American steel’s superior sustainability, I urge you to visit


Charles J. Carter, S.E., P.E., Ph.D.
American Institute of Steel Construction