C+S August 2023 Vol. 9 Issue 8 (web)

Future-proofing buildings While the use of Hollow Structural Sections won’t immunize a building or bridge from damage due to natural disasters, HSS do possess the highest strength-to-weight ratio of traditional construction materials and efficiently fortify against natural disasters. The adaptability of HSS also allows for easier modifications and retrofits, catering to changing infrastructure needs. Retrofitting existing structures to meet updated codes is critical to improving community resilience. As structural engineers continue to focus on operational and embodied carbon, resilient building designs and products have become an integral part of any project’s effort to reduce emissions and future-proof its design. The U.S. Green Building Council’s RELi (Resilience and Environmental Leadership) standards emphasize integrating resilience measures into infrastructure projects, particularly in the face of natural disasters and climate change impacts. These standards incorporate hazard mitigation, adaptive design, and community engagement, enabling infrastructure to better withstand and recover from natural disasters and climate change impacts, ensuring the safety and well- being of communities. Furthermore, the RELi standards encourage the use of sustainable materials and environmentally sensitive design practices, promoting long-term sustainability and reducing the environmental impact of infrastructure projects. By combining resilience and long-term sustainability, steel and HSS provide a holistic solution to infrastructure development that prioritizes both the immediate and long-term needs of communities in the face of natural disasters and environmental challenges. The benefits of HSS in construction and engineering HSS possesses inherent properties that contribute to resilience throughout a structure’s life cycle. Hazard preparedness and mitigation The use of HSS is an ideal structural solution due to its strength and durability, helping withstand substantial forces and extreme environmental events. HSS, along with other steel structural products, reduce concerns related to fire resistance, as steel is non-combustible, and can be coated or painted to protect against water damage, corrosion, and normal wear and tear – factors that can have a greater impact on the strength and durability of other building materials. If damaged, HSS can be repaired using a method called hot bending, which involves using a direct flame or furnace to make the metal pliable, then bending the member to the desired radius. This method is commonly used to straighten bridge girders after structural damage occurs, reducing repair time, minimizing demands on strained supply chains, and reducing material sent to landfills.

Sustainability and life cycle impact reductions Structural steel production in the United States relies predominantly on electric arc furnaces (EAF). These furnaces offer significant advantages over alternative methods for melting and refining steel. Notably, EAFs are renowned for their superior efficiency, allowing for a more sustainable and resource-conscious manufacturing process. By emphasizing the utilization of electric arc furnaces, the United States is taking significant strides toward a more sustainable steel industry. This approach not only helps preserve natural resources, but also contributes to the global effort of mitigating climate change. One of the most notable benefits of using electric arc furnaces is their significant contribution to recycling efforts. Structural steel produced using electric arc furnaces boasts an impressive average recycled content of 93 percent. By utilizing scrap steel as their primary input, EAFs help reduce the dependence on raw materials extracted from the earth. Unlike concrete and wood, steel is also infinitely recyclable. Once steel has outlived its initial life purpose, it can be fully recycled and transformed into other steel products repeatedly, without impacting its strength and durability. In fact, 98 percent of structural steel is recycled at the end of its initial life. Steel is the most recycled material by weight in the world, significantly reducing the energy and carbon associated with creating virgin steel products from iron ore. Additionally, due to their light weight relative to their high capacity, the use of Hollow Structural Sections can result in lighter buildings, with smaller foundations, as well as more efficient transportation. These are just some of the reasons steel and HSS should be considered when designing for sustainability. As the engineering industry embraces more sustainable standards and building practices, resilient building materials play an integral role. The use of HSS offers hazard preparedness, mitigation, and sustainability throughout the life cycle, delivering a holistic, sustainable solution through infrastructure that’s built to last.

HOLLY SCHAUBERT, PE, serves as the HSS Director for Steel Tube Institute (STI). With an extensive 19 year career, including 16 years dedicated to the steel sector, Holly possesses a wealth of practical knowledge in the construc- tion industry. Prior to her role at STI, Holly held key positions in engineering, business development and leadership across 3 Nucor companies: Verco Decking, Nucor Building Systems and Vulcraft. Holly is a graduate of Cornell University, where she earned both Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering.


AUGUST 2023 csengineermag.com

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