Structural steel compares favourably with concrete for eco-aware construction, according to a new report published by the Steel Construction Institute.

The SCI adopted a ‘cradle to grave’ approach to quantifying the environmental impact of structural steel as an alternative to concrete construction, with a particular focus on the on-site part of construction.

It found that concrete structures typically weigh in at 282% heavier than the equivalent structure made out of steel.

As steelwork can be fabricated off-site and simply put directly into place, it typically embodies a lower on-site carbon impact than concrete.

But even when considering the transportation of the materials, and of the human workforce required to construct them, structural steel is still the lower-carbon option.

“In addition to the embodied carbon benefits of a steel superstructure, the other sustainability benefits include the reduced number of deliveries to site, less waste generation and less transport of waste from site, and reduced total on-site labour,” the report concludes.

All of this makes steel a comparably favourable material for superstructure construction – which may come as a surprise to some people, as concrete is often promoted as an ‘eco-friendly’ choice.