There are only a few industries as closely intertwined as steel and construction. For over a century, the two sectors have developed together, and now the future of that relationship is sustainability.
“The world is urbanizing. By 2050, about 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities,” says Anke Meyer, Senior Marketing Manager, Building Segment at SSAB. “We need to construct new infrastructure, renovate old buildings and to build a large number of new ones, and this has to be done responsibly.”
Steel is a great construction material. It has an impressive strength-to-weight ratio, is 100 percent recyclable, durable, formable and can be used in combination with other materials. Steel is also versatile and easy to use, such as for a fast on-site build for prefabricated buildings. The high sustainability of SSAB’s fossil-free steel with bio-based color coating will make its key role in construction even more important.
Historically, many of the innovations in construction were directly related to innovations in steel, such as building frames which led to the invention of the skyscraper. Today, one of the main driving forces in construction is sustainability.
“Sustainability is no longer a choice; it is a necessity,” Anke Meyer explains.
“Local laws and international treaties have already given us many building regulations on sustainability and we will soon have even more. Architects and builders need to minimize and prove the carbon footprint of their buildings by facts and figures.”
Lawmakers are not the only people who require more sustainable construction. The US Green Building Council says client demand is one of the biggest drivers of more environmentally friendly construction. Much of this demand comes from organizations who increasingly require sustainability in their procurement.
More sustainable construction can also positively impact reputation and profits. Green buildings can be more efficient to operate, have a higher value and be in greater demand from progressive tenants and investors.
Greener construction requires greener building materials, so steel becomes extremely important. Modern buildings wouldn’t exist without steel. For example, steel is commonly used in building frames, piles, roofs, wall claddings and guttering. In fact, more than half of global steel demand today comes from construction. Using fossil-free steel would be a major step forward in sustainable construction, both for new builds and for renovations.
HYBRIT is an initiative of SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall which replaces the coking coal traditionally needed for steelmaking with hydrogen made from renewable energy. As a result, the by-product from steel making would be water, not carbon dioxide. SSAB aims to be the first, in 2026, to offer fossil-free steel to the market and largely eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from our own operations in around 2030.
“Our partners in the construction industry, architects, contractors and builders are excited about fossil-free steel. They are already asking when it will be available,” says Anke Meyer.
“The construction industry is responsible for more than a third of global CO2 emissions. SSAB’s fossil-free steel will support us to live in a more sustainable world.”
GreenCoat® is the brand name for SSAB’s innovative, sustainable color coated steels. It comes in a range of more than 400 colors and is widely used on roofs, faҫades and in roof drainage. This color coated steel features a bio-based coating, which uses a substantial amount of Swedish rapeseed oil instead of fossil oils in the paint. This unique, patented solution from SSAB reduces the environmental footprint significantly.
From 2026, GreenCoat® color coated steels will be available in fossil-free steel. It will offer the same superior product performance as today but be much more sustainable.
“In the future, the push for sustainability in construction will only increase,” says Anke Meyer. “Resource scarcity and regulations are causing the classic construction industry to transform into a sustainable one. Everyone has to work together because we need to save the planet.”
The global challenge of halting and reversing current rates of climate change is urgent. The steel industry has the potential to play a significant role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions both in the production phase and by supporting current rates of recycling.
GreenCoat® offers a wide range of innovative, sustainable color coated steel solutions for roofs, façades and rainwater systems.