Is Galvanizing Sustainable?
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 and owners are becoming more invested and analytical in the materials they choose.
Sustainability is intrinsic to hot-dip galvanized steel and is a message the galvanizing industry promoted long before sustainable design became a trend. Hot-dip galvanizing (HDG) is a proven steel corrosion protection system that transcends time with minimal economic or environmental impact. Not only does hot-dip galvanizing provide decades of maintenance-free longevity, but its primary components, zinc and steel, are natural, abundant, and 100% recyclable, making hot-dip galvanized steel an infinitely renewable building material.
Utilizing hot-dip galvanized steel ensures less natural resources are consumed, fewer emissions are output, and less money is spent over the life of a project.
This section further explores the low environmental impact of hot-dip galvanized steel based on life-cycle assessment (LCA) and presented in an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). The LCA measures energy use and emissions from cradle (mining of zinc and iron ore) to the grave (end of life of the galvanized product), while the EPD shows the environmental impacts from cradle to gate (through the initial production of the material).
It is important to remember the definition of sustainable development is not purely an environmental commitment. For true sustainability, one must couple environmental-friendliness with economic feasibility. When you couple galvanized steels low environmental impact with its superior economic benefits (low life-cycle cost), it is simple to see hot-dip galvanized steel truly is a smart and sustainable construction material.
Explore more of hot-dip galvanized steel's sustainable aspects:
The AGA offers the Sustainable Development & Hot-Dip Galvanizing Galvanize It! Seminar in various versions for continuing education credit.