Innovation in construction = Improvements in sustainability

By Mark Pointer

In my previous blog post, I talked about the inherent sustainability benefits in building using a steel frame.  In this one, I think it is important to draw attention to the innovations which are coming through in steel construction which reduce the carbon footprint of the building and the whole construction project.

The specific area that I’m thinking about is the design of high rise buildings that incorporate steel deck.

The traditional method of construction for a steel deck composite slab involves laying and fixing the deck on the steel fame and then laying an additional steel mesh on top of the deck to act as reinforcement within the concrete, also adding to the fire resistance capability.

By working in partnership with leading Belgium-based Steel Wire Manufacturing experts Bekheart, we have developed a system incorporating Bekhaerts Dramix fibres as an alternative to using traditional steel mesh.

The Dramix fibres are mixed into the concrete at the batching plant. Once poured, the fibres act as reinforcement within the concrete slab and also provide a two hour fire protection barrier, thus removing the need for the installation of steel mesh.

The benefits of the system are numerous, particularly for building sites in city centre locations with limited access:

1)            Removal of the mesh element means less truck deliveries and subsequent road closures.

2)            No requirement for crane lifts to position the mesh into place.

3)            Reduction of carbon footprint by the reduction in transport and crane lifts

4)            No need for steel mesh installation and storage on additional platforms

5)            Improvement in Health and safety as a trip hazard is removed from the site, especially for the crew pouring the concrete.

6)            Time saving as the concrete can be poured straight after the deck installation, which also represents a cost saving over the life of the project

7)            Ability to recycle the whole structure, using modern retrieval methods.

These modern materials and methods of construction also serve to reduce the energy required to run these buildings during their lifetime, and allow a greater percentage of the structure to be reused and recycled at the end of the building’s life.

In summary, attitudes are changing towards sustainability within the building industry.  New technology gives us the capability to design more sustainable buildings and innovation from the manufacturers and suppliers provides us with more sustainable building products. This all allows the construction industry as a whole to deliver more sustainable, energy efficient buildings with a lower carbon footprint

We, Kingspan, fully embrace this approach. Through product development, software design and ultimately building design we aim to maximise sustainability whilst offering the most efficient, value-engineered, integrated building solutions. Sustainability and cost savings can go hand in hand!

Mark Pointer, Sales Manager for Kingspan Structural Products


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