An average 2000 square foot timber-framed home requires around 40-50 trees to build. This is equivalent to an entire acre of forest. Comparatively, a steel-framed home requires the equivalent of only six scrapped cars1. Australia has lost over 40% of its natural forests2, and habitat loss is currently the biggest threat to wildlife3. Native vegetation must be cleared to make way for the non-native tree plantations used in the construction industry. These areas could otherwise be left or restored as native forest to capture carbon and reestablish habitat for wildlife. Steel framing provides a quality, environmentally-friendly and cost-effective alternative to timber framing.
Supaloc steel frames are carefully designed to create as little waste product as possible. Due to the precision design and subsequent link to the manufacturing process, the raw products are used as efficiently as possible. This means that there is very little wastage of materials during manufacture. Unlike timber, there are no imperfections in the raw materials in steel framing, so the entire product is usable. Furthermore, once on site, there is no modification of the steel frames required, ensuring there are no on-site waste products.
Low Site Impact
Due to the pre-site precision manufacture and assembly of Supaloc steel frames, there is no on-site wastage, and little time and energy required to erect your frame. This means a lower impact on the construction site and the surrounding areas than when building with conventional frames. The on-site cut-offs from timber frames are often left at construction sites, which attracts termites and dramatically increases the chances of a home infestation.
Furthermore, elevated steel sub-floor systems cause little disturbance to fragile sites. The natural contours of the site can generally be preserved, meaning that stormwater runoff is maintained, reducing the harmful sedimentation of water courses.
Life Cycle Energy Assessment
In general, it is recommended to build with materials that have a low embodied energy. Embodied energy is the amount of energy consumed during the production of a product. However in areas where heating and cooling is required, it is often more environmentally sustainable to assess the average energy required over the lifetime of your home4. (Life cycle energy is the energy consumed throughout the full life cycle of a material: from harvest to disposal.) While the initial embodied energy of steel is higher than timber, the life cycle energy over the life of your home can be much lower due to lower energy consumption over time and the high durability of steel framing. Zinc coated steel framing has an extremely long product life cycle, with an average life expectancy of 377 years5!
Steel framing creates better seals around windows and doors, reduces cracking and warping of your home, and when combined with Thermaloc insulation, creates highly efficient thermal regulation. These qualities reduce the amount of heating and cooling required in your home, dramatically reducing your long-term energy consumption.
Furthermore, unlike timber, steel is made with recycled materials and is 100% recyclable, lowering the embodied energy of manufacture over time. Steel can be infinitely recycled without the loss of quality5. The recycling of steel requires a huge 70% less energy than the original manufacture6.
If you are building your new home in an area with a variable climate, Supaloc steel framing is the environmentally responsible choice.
1 Recycle Steel, Steel is the clear alternative
2 Bradshaw, CJA (2011) Little left to lose: deforestation and forest degradation in Australia since European colonization, Journal of Plant Ecology, Vol 5, Issue 1
3 WWF (2014) Habitat loss and degradation
4 Milne, G & Reardon, C (2013) Embodied Energy, Australian Government, Your Home
5 World Steel Association (2008) Steel and Energy Fact Sheet
6 Reardon, C, Davis, T & Downton, P (2013) Lightweight framing, Australian Government, Your Home