Steel must better communicate ‘green’ message, execs say

Although the steel industry has much experience in lobbying, it has failed in communicating more broadly. Partly as a result, environmental policy, and funding for environemntal projects, has been dominated by the power sector. If the steel industry wants greater support for its green investments, it should consider how to spread its message more effectively and to a wider audience.

SBB 12 April The global steel industry must do a better job communicating strides taken to reduce carbon output and touting steel as the “green” material of choice for key markets such as construction and auto manufacturing, officials said last week in Brussels.

“The steel industry has not been a sitting duck,” McKinsey & Co principal Michel Van Hoey told Steel Business Briefing’s Green Steel Strategies conference. “The advancements it has made have been quite impressive.”

Whether it’s promoting the high recyclability of the material, new high-strength lightweight auto steel production or significant carbon reduction initiatives underway, few outside the industry are aware of steelmakers’ achievements.

Van Hoey encouraged them to also communicate better with each other, forming additional partnerships on emissions-reducing technologies and taking a more vocal role in shaping greenhouse gas regulation.

American Institute of Steel Construction director of sustainability Geoff Weisenberger pointed to a recent study pitting a steel-framed building against a comparable concrete one to see which had a lower overall environmental impact. “The steel building outperformed in almost every category,” Weisenberger said, adding however that the differences measured in each category didn’t reach 15% or better. Still, one way to think of steel’s win is if the matchup were a sports series – steel won 4-1, with all games close victories.

Still, few are informed of such wins, and the steel industry needs to do better at collecting and distributing “green” data, increase collaboration with designers and architects from the blueprint stage on and improve the environmental performance of fabricators and others downstream, he said.


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