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When IndiaCADworks (ICW) was first developed, it marked a vital step towards the development of sustainable structures. The steel detailing process, from the planning of structural drawings to their creation, is crucial in aiding steel fabricators by providing reference documents.

Steel designers then go on to create shop and sectional drawings, before erecting the steel members of the structure, such as the beams, columns and trusses.

With city limits expanding at a seemingly exponential rate, the need for vertical growth is stronger than ever. The ability to expand into the sky is the solution for a population that seems determined to cover every corner of green space with concrete.

Whether it’s residential buildings or commercial structures, bridges or monuments, the steel detailing process is a pivotal and vital step in the development of precise steel structures.

Why steel detailing is essential for sustainability

Large architectural projects need to withstand the rigours of time and the perils of natural disasters to avoid collapsing. Steel detailing is absolutely essential in ensuring longevity. Structural steel offers quality and durability, which is why it’s used in everything from commercial buildings to shopping centres and luxury residential buildings, but it takes expert steel detailing to get it right.

Steel is incredibly strong, not only when it comes to its building potential, but also where its sustainability credentials are concerned. Key to this is its recyclability, as it can be reused and recycled an unlimited number of times without ever compromising its very impressive physical properties. Across the globe, an estimated 90% of all steel coming from demolition sites returns to steel mills to be recycled.

But it doesn’t end there. Steel has many other great sustainable features:

Extended building life

When it comes to sustainability, the ability to extend the life of large architectural projects is key. The longer they last, the more value is extracted from all the resources that went into their creation, not to mention their maintenance and operation.

Steel is inherently flexible, making it the perfect material to choose when renovating or refurbishing buildings, and particularly when building a new project from scratch.

A skilled steel detailer knows exactly how to put this exceptional material to its best possible use.

For example, large, column-free spaces can be achieved using long-span beams, giving the ability to create flexible floor plans. Steel’s light-weight allows for major alterations to be made easily. Meanwhile, extra floors can be added to structures without overloading the existing foundations.

Minimal waste

The low-waste construction credentials of steel are highly beneficial to all stages in the lifecycle of construction. The byproducts created during the steel-making process can be used elsewhere. For example, slag is a lightweight aggregate that is used for roading.

Any waste that is generated during the manufacture and fabrication of steel can be recovered and then recycled into the steel-making process.

Production lines can now be computer-controlled and automated to ensure steel components are created with high precision, minimal defects, and as little waste as possible.

Steel can also be easily recovered during the deconstruction process and recycled.

Competitive emissions profile

Perhaps the biggest concern of sustainability efforts is carbon emissions. These are an extremely important facture when attempting to measure how steel stacks up in terms of sustainability.

Based on the whole-of-life profile of steel, its environmental performance is favourable compared to building materials like timber or concrete.

This is because the thermal mass of steel itself functions as a heat sink, reducing and delaying the development of peak temperatures within a structure by tempering its internal environment. In other words, steel naturally keeps a building cool during the summer, and warm during the winter, reducing the need to rely on heating and air conditioning.

All of these factors, from the ability to use steel detailing to facilitate vertical growth, to the sustainability of steel itself, make steel detailing a vital part of efforts to ensure a sustainable future for all.