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Steel's sustainability tested in £1m investigation

Can steel beat timber and concrete in the sustainability stakes? That's one of many questions a £1 million pound research project will hope to answer when steel is used in five UK buildings to help make them zero carbon.
Steel
Five real life buildings will be the focus of a three year research project funded by the British Constructional Steelwork Association (BCSA) and Corus.

Project 'Target Zero' aims to give consultants and architects real results to show how steel can be used to achieve the government's zero carbon buildings target by 2019. Specifically how the material can help meet the three highest BREEAM ratings- 'very good', 'excellent' and 'outstanding'.

Focused on five building types, (a school, warehouse, office, supermarket and mixed-use building), a fully-costed solution will be produced to try to prove how each building type can be made carbon zero and more cheaply with the incorporation of steel.

Consulting engineer Faber Maunsell|Ancom will carry out the analysis, aided by cost consultant Cyril Sweett.

'The only way to achieve carbon zero is through M&E' said Ant Wilson, head of sustainable development at Faber Maunsell|Ancom.

He added: 'Essentially, it is looking at different structural options and looking at how we can get zero carbon buildings from steel frame buildings that are highly sustainable. The sustainable aspect comes from steel's reuse, recycling, and more lightwork structures. The leaner the building, the lighter the structure means less lifting and craning and less energy needs to be used'.

Forty different technologies are expected to be adopted in the five buildings, including solar thermal and heatpump technology.

August 2009 brings the results of investigations at the UK school chosen for the project, which is based in Knowsley and opened in September 2008.

A new website www.targetzero.info detailing the project is scheduled to go live today (February 25).
25 February 2009

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