Sustainable development is the social, economic, and environmental commitment to growth and development that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. As the social pressure continues to mount to construct the built environment sustainably, specifiers are becoming more invested and analytical in the materials they choose. Hot-dip galvanized steels maintenance-free longevity provides positive environmental and economic benefits to future generations.
A significant aspect of striving for a more sustainable built environment is to evaluate the materials used in construction. In particular, it is important to evaluate the content and availability of the raw materials as well as the impact of processing them.
When it comes to hot-dip galvanizing, it’s important to remember the primary components (zinc and steel/iron ore) are both natural elements (4th (iron) and 24th (zinc)in order of abundance) which means we are not introducing harmful, manmade elements into the environment. In fact, both iron and zinc are essential to life and healthy production.
Adding to the natural abundance and necessity to life, both zinc and steel are 100% recyclable without the loss of any chemical or physical properties. This means they can be multi-cycled (used as zinc/steel over and over again) rather than down-cycled into a lesser product – making hot-dip galvanized steel a truly infinitely renewable resource. Furthermore, both steel and zinc have high reclamation rates, which means recycling them is not merely a talking point, it is done as a common practice. Approximately 80% of zinc available for recycling is reclaimed, and for steel, the most recycled material in the world, it is nearly 100% (98%+).
Finally, the maintenance-free longevity provided by galvanized steel significantly reduces or eliminates the need of more natural resources and output of emissions throughout its service life.
The AGA has produced an industry-wide, 3rd party verified Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) in accordance with the LEED v4 standard. The EPD covers hot-rolled sections, plate, and hollow structural sections (HSS). The study was conducted by thinkstep, Inc. and verified by UL Environment, and can be found on our website at www.galvaniziet.org/epd.