Steel is the most important industrially produced material in the society! Think of what would be non-existing if the steel was not there. Without steel we would have no machines and no tools - without these no clothing, no buildings, no computers, no vehicles and almost no raw material - without these no electricity, almost no food. The list can be long. Without the steel our life would be prehistoric. We are all completely dependent on the steel and the effects of its use, now and in the future. Fortunately the possibilities of producing steel are theoretically unlimited. The most important raw material, iron, is the fourth most common element, and the many billion tons of steel already circulating in the society can be used over and over again for new first-rate steel.
A single source can very seldom be correctly blamed for an environmental problem, and the problem can not be cured by a single medicine. Certain human behaviour and industrial processes are though so dominating in some regions that they are put responsible for the environmental effects. As a precursor the basic industry, including the steel industry, can environmentally adapt the processes and use the resources as efficiently as possible, and thereby contribute to a sustainable development in interaction with the environment. For example the Swedish steel industry has cut the acidous emissions, CO2 and other important substances by 25-90% in 15 years. The Swedish steel industry is world leaders in material and energy efficiency, and few emissions.
Environmental adaptation is generally in conflict with our welfare, that we absolutely want to keep or rather improve. Environmental adaptation overall means to close the circles; to go for products and materials that are both welfare improving and recyclable. In this case steel is maybe the best example of all!
The construction business belongs to them who have most demands on increasing the recycling of materials and products. Each year more than 4Mt of constructional waste is put to deposit in Sweden, but hopefully the amounts can decrease parallel to the increased requirements from Authorities, organisations and the environment. In order to minimise the use of resources and minimise other environmental burden construction technologies resulting in less material amounts are developed, and also use of recycled materials in the buildings that in the same time are recyclable. Here the steel construction can be seen as a good example.
To build for a high comfort, security and health for the people inside the buildings should be seen as an absolute matter of course! With the latest years of focus on moisture problems and structural defects and health risks in relatively new buildings you can wonder whether or not there still are arguments for expensive R&D, process changes and comprehensive additional work to doggedly fight to build with wood and concrete as framing materials? Without expensive changeovers, additional work and potentially comprehensive maintenance this should be the right time to focus on the simple, moisture proof, function safe, sustainable and cost efficient steel construction!