Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gregory L. Crawford and Brandie Sebastian honored by the National Recycling Coalition

PITTSBURGH, Pa (September 23, 2014) – The Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) received recognition from the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) as seven industry leaders were given National Awards at a special luncheon during the Resource Recycling Conference this past week in New Orleans by Resource Recycling Magazine.

Brandie Sebastian (Manager, Life Cycle Assessment) was awarded the Bill Heenan Emerging Leader Award, given to an outstanding individual under 35 recognized as a leader in their field. Gregory L. Crawford (Executive Director) received the highest honor, a Lifetime Achievement in Recycling award, recognizing him as an outstanding individual with a lifetime of leadership and dedication to the field.

Brandie joined the SRI in 2013, serving as the North American steel industry’s technical expert on life cycle assessment (LCA), modeling and practices. In this capacity, she investigates and promotes the life cycle advantages of steel vs. competing materials. In less than a year, Brandie has worked on the development and provision of life cycle inventory (LCI) datasets for North American steel products, integrated new North American LCI data into key databases, and engaged with international and domestic standardization and regulatory organizations. She is a certified LCA practitioner through the American Center for Life Cycle Assessment and is a member of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group on the international standards for LCA (ISO TAG 207). Prior to joining SRI, Brandie spent over six years in environmental and sustainability consulting as a project engineer and manager. Brandie’s role and participation in North American LCA for steel is key to credibly advancing steel as the environmental material of choice in the automotive, construction, and containers market sectors.



Greg Crawford has spent his much of career working to maximize the recycling of post-consumer materials. He spent seven years with Reynolds Aluminum managing over 125 employees at five shredder plants and buy back network locations. Beginning in 1989, Greg became the Technical Director and later Vice President of Operations for the Steel Can Recycling Institute (renamed as The Steel Recycling Institute in 1993). His plan for the steel can recycling infrastructure resulted in the recycling rate of steel cans to grow from 15% (1989) to its current recycling rate of 71% (2012). From day one, he stated that all empty steel cans; food, beverage, aerosol and paint cans should be included in every community’s recycling program. With his assistance and guidance, the seven regional recycling managers completed 18 months of “infrastructure development” which involved meeting with municipal, county, and state recycling official, haulers, MRF operators, and scrap dealers, as well as each of the steel mills and iron foundries across the country to discuss the homogenous chemistry of “today’s” steel can and get them to aggressively purchase and melt steel can scrap. Greg worked with various government agencies and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries to fully recognize increase the recycling of automobiles, appliances, and structural steel. Since becoming the Executive Director in 2010, Greg has guided the SRI’s efforts to collect and disseminate Life Cycle Inventory data for various steel products. In addition to serving on scores of recycling and construction related committees, Greg served the recycling industry as the Chair of the National Recycling Coalition and Chair of the Buy Recycled Business Alliance. He currently serves on the Keep America Beautiful board. He also served as Executive Director of the Cool Metal Roofing Coalition. Greg is retiring in January 2015. 

To view the official press release, please click here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Steel is Foundational to PNC’s LEED Platinum Priority for New Global Headquarters

Courtesy of PNC
Photo courtesy of PNC
On June 24th, PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (PNC) placed the final steel beam on their new global headquarters, The Tower at PNC Plaza, in Pittsburgh, PA. The planning process for the LEED Platinum certified building began in 2010 and, when it opens in the Fall of 2015, about 2,200 employees will begin working there. 

The last steel beam was part of 10,000 tons of steel used in the construction of the new HQ. The steel was manufactured domestically and fabricated locally and, like all steel, was made from recycled steel scrap, conserving energy natural resources and carbon impact. 

“PNC is a leader in green building and recognizes the potential to significantly reduce its energy consumption and costs by building to LEED standards,” says Gary Saulson, PNC’s director of Corporate Real Estate. 

Steel is North America’s most recycled material and provides a durable and environmentally-preferred material choice that is prevalent in many LEED certified construction projects. PNC has certified 225 projects to LEED standards since 2000 and, according to a recent study, for benefits beyond energy and cost savings. 

A 2011 study conducted by University of Notre Dame professors of PNC’s bank branches found that business performance in LEED-certified branches exceeds that in non-certified branches. Employees in PNC’s LEED-certified branches opened more consumer deposit and loan accounts and had significantly more in consumer deposit balances and loan balances than their non-certified counterparts. 

At 33 stories and 800,000 square feet, Saulson explains it’s too premature to confirm the exact cost savings of the new HQ but there are several technologies in place to further lower energy consumption. 

“By utilizing ground-breaking technology, including a double-skin fa├žade and a solar chimney, the tower is anticipated to ventilate naturally at least 42 percent of the year and consume 50 percent less energy than a typical office building,” describes Saulson. “The building’s floor-to-ceiling windows and narrow floor plates will allow daylight to illuminate 90 percent of all open workspaces, and a water recycling system is expected to decrease the tower’s annual water consumption by 77 percent.” 

“Furthermore, PNC has committed to spend at least 15 percent of the project’s total construction budget with women- and minority-owned businesses.” 

With a commitment towards sustainable construction and investing back into the Pittsburgh region, PNC will continue to be on the forefront of companies understanding that the best business practices start long before the potential customer walks through the door. 

Starting with the first steel arriving on the construction site to the last steel beam placed, steel will continue to be part of high-performance green buildings and help companies achieve their LEED platinum dreams. 

For more information on The Tower at PNC Plaza, visit their website.






Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cleveland Innerbelt—bridging the gap between the economy and the environment with steel

The need for growth and repair of our nation’s infrastructure has taken both political and news spotlight as it is central to economic stimulus. The steel industry has actively advocated reinvestment in our nation’s infrastructure as it supplies materials for steel-intensive projects, requires efficient surface and water transportation to move raw materials, and receives vital steel scrap from many of the major repair projects.

Image courtesy of ODOT
One such important project is the George V. Voinovich (formerly "Innerbelt") Bridge. A vital link into downtown Cleveland, spanning the Cuyahoga River on Interstate 90, it provides access to jobs, sports complexes, restaurants and more.

In addition to those benefits, the deconstruction of the old Innerbelt Bridge will yield nearly 40 million pounds of recycled steel. This will help offset costs of the project and bring vitally important scrap back to the North American steel industry.


The original bridge, built in 1959, is being replaced by two nearly identical spans, one to carry westbound traffic and a second to carry eastbound traffic. The construction is being overseen by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and, at $293 million dollars and more than 500 employees, the construction of the first bridge alone is the largest project in the department’s history. The previous high was $237 million for Toledo’s Veterans’ Glass City Skyway, which opened in 2007. Combined with the demolition of the old Innerbelt Bridge and construction of the eastbound span, the Department will spend upwards of $566 million in Downtown Cleveland in a six year period.

“By going from four lanes in each direction to five lanes of traffic in each direction, congestion is expected to decrease for daily commuters,” says Jocelynn Clemings, ODOT, Public Information Officer. “The bridge was originally built to accommodate about 100,000 vehicles each day, but today’s traffic levels rise to about 140,000 vehicles each day – a 40 percent increase. The new configuration will provide improved flow for those in and around the city of Cleveland.”

Image courtesy of ODOTA ceremonial groundbreaking for the first new bridge, the westbound bridge, was held in May 2011 and the bridge was opened in its entirety in November 2013. The project has already earned national attention as one of the top 10 bridges in the nation, received the “Environmental Excellence Award” from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and was featured on the cover of “Roads & Bridges” magazine in 2012.

“Like all ODOT projects, the steel is melted and manufactured in the USA,” says Clemings. “For the westbound bridge, the steel piles were manufactured by Nucor Yamato of Arkansas. The structural steel components were fabricated by High Steel Structures, Inc. of Pennsylvania. For the eastbound bridge, the steel piles will be manufactured by Nucor Yamato of Arkansas and distributed by Madura Steel of Pennsylvania. The structural steel will be fabricated by Veritas Steel at their Eau Claire, Wisconsin facility.  Veritas is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.”

The focus on environmental responsibility extends across the entire city. The Cleveland mayor Frank G. Jackson created “Sustainable Cleveland 2019” which is a 10-year initiative that has the goal of designing and developing a more resilient Cleveland region.

“Sustainability is increasingly important to ODOT as an agency,” says Clemings. “We are happy to work with the city in furthering this mission and making Cleveland a more desirable place to work, live and grow.”

Image courtesy of ODOT
In fact, during the first phase of the project, ODOT used the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) INVEST tool to score the project in terms of sustainability - achieving a gold standard though its use of steel, which is both recycled and recyclable.

“INVEST is a tool developed by the FHWA to assist state and local agencies in documenting and improving the sustainability of the nation’s roadways,” explains Clemings. “The sustainable highways initiative supports various activities to facilitate balanced decision-making among environmental, economic and social values – the triple bottom line of sustainability.”

INVEST scores on a variety of topics including life-cycle cost analyses, recycling of materials and energy efficiency. Steel, in addition to its strength and durability as a building material, excels as a sustainable material choice for infrastructure projects.

The second phase of this project, including the demolishing of the 1959 bridge and construction of the eastbound bridge in its place, is expected to be complete during the fall of 2016. The demolition will be done by the Trumbull Corporation, The Great Lakes Construction Company and The Ruhlin Company. The bridge was designed by URS Corporation. Areas around each new bridge will additionally be enhanced with public overlooks, green spaces, biking and walking facilities, additional parking, public art, community gardens and more.

The new bridges are just one part of a larger renovation to the Innerbelt infrastructure including additional new ramps and roadways.

“Infrastructure spending means jobs,” explains Clemings. “The more we invest in our state’s infrastructure, the more people are working, the easier it is to move goods from place to place and the more our economy grows.“

Cleveland is investing in itself, its economy and the environment through the modernization of its infrastructure, including the use of steel.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ship Dismantling Breaks Down the Misconceptions

When a product reaches the end of its useful life, it is discarded. For materials that have recycling value, such as an empty steel can or appliance, they are responsibly given new life through a recycling service such as curbside pickup or a drop-off location. But, what happens when a large Navy or commercial vessel is no longer in ‘ship shape?’ Much like other recyclable steel products, ships are steel-intensive sources of valuable, recyclable materials.
Ship dismantling is a planned process of systematically breaking down ships that have reached the end of their useful life to reclaim their recyclable materials—especially steel. The dismantling of ships can range from small, private ships to 15,000 ton U.S. Navy vessels. And, over 90 percent of the materials in these large vessels can be recycled or reused.

In fact, last year, 15-20 million tons of steel was recovered worldwide from ship dismantling. But, despite the planned nature of the recycling process and the environmental and worker protections that are in place, the industry still faces a challenge of public misconceptions about the environmental effects and potential dangers of the dismantling/recycling process. While a lot of these concerns originate more from international procedures, domestic practices still face negative stereotypes with the general public because of some of those international procedures and the history of the industry.


However, according to Curt Michanczyk, Director of the Office of Ship Disposal Programs for the Maritime Administration, the domestic ship recycling process once known as ‘ship scrapping’ is now a planned dismantling/recycling process that maximizes the collection of recyclables while protecting the environment and the safety and health of the workers involved.


“In the 1990’s, the domestic and international industry was not highly regarded at all,” Michanczyk discussed. “We’re not using [the term ship scrapping] anymore so it gets us away from those archaic environmental regulation lapses, and worker safety/health lapses.”


Michanczyk feels people who are not closely associated with the industry may think ships are still abandoned irresponsibly, but that too is a misconception.


“There were some government vessels sold in the 70’s, 80’s that weren’t tracked. In some cases, the new owners, who may have had good intentions, would take possession of vessels and later abandoned them in some waterway,” he explains. “These ships are very visible and very large. If something was done incorrectly, even decades ago but the vessel survives, it leads to the misconception that the industry hasn’t changed and is not safe.”

The process that the Maritime Administration uses now includes an extensive qualification process for industrial facilities to be approved for Government ship dismantling contracts.


“We don’t just go out and issue a contract to anyone who wants to recycle a vessel,” Michanczyk said. “We have a requirement for recyclers to turn in technical proposals that explain their expertise, experience, management structure, key personnel and facilities, in order to demonstrate to us that they’re capable of properly identifying, removing and disposing of hazardous materials with an important emphasis on workers safety and health and the environment.”


Since only approved facilities can compete for contracts, the administration can track and have active oversight to ensure the responsible dismantling of these vessels.


After a company is approved for a contract, they transport the ship to their facility. Due to the size of many vessels, this work is often done outside in the elements which also contributes to industry misconceptions.

“[The recycling process] is such a visible thing,” says Michanczyk. “People see ships out there, visible from busy roads in a lot of cases, and they’re in various stages of deconstruction. It’s often not a pretty sight. There is smoke coming out from torch cutting, it’s noisy, and not always a real organized looking facility when in midst of deconstructing a ship. A manufacturing or assembly process can be hidden away in a building, ship dismantling/recycling can’t.”


Due to this high visibility of the process, local municipalities may express concerns despite the industrial jobs that the facility can offer struggling areas.


“Since each ship is a little different, dismantlement processes and procedures differ from ship to ship and facility to facility,” says Michanczyk. “Training is huge. They have to train a work force to make sure that even beginning workers are aware of hazards that are very common in industrial facilities.”

After the vessel is brought into the facility, the next step is identifying and characterizing the hazardous materials. Older ships contain asbestos, lead paint, fuels or other materials that may threaten the environment and endanger workers and those materials must be located, sampled, sent to labs, and then verified for special handling and disposal.


Areas that contain these materials are cordoned off to allow access to only trained personnel that can properly prepare the space and certify it is cleaned.

Once areas are declared acceptable, recycling of useful items can begin.

A lot of equipment is able to be reused. Valves can be reconditioned. Motors can be resold. It is very cost effective. Once these smaller items are removed, the deconstruction of the vessel can begin. Generally starting from the top down, these ships that can range from 300-700 feet long can take months, or even up to a year, to carefully take apart and conserve the quality of any materials for reuse and recycling.


“One of the challenges these facilities have is that ship recycling is very labor-intensive work,” says Michanczyk. “No real automation exists to take the human element out of the process. There is a risk to worker safety and health and companies have to be cognizant of that. Each ship has a different configuration and the work is accomplished outside in the elements. Safety and environmental oversight needs to be very good because with the amount of labor involved, accidents can happen.”


On average over the past 10 years, the Maritime Administration has issued 18 contracts a year for dismantling decommissioned vessels from the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and other federal agencies. Over 200 ships have been disposed of since 2001.


“Ship dismantling is a very necessary and very efficient process from a recycling and sustainability perspective,” concludes Michanczyk. “[These vessels] contain so much metal, without recycling those resources would be lost forever. Depending on the ship’s condition, more than 90% of the weight is made up of recyclable material. The majority is steel, but there is also copper, copper alloys and cast iron.”


“[Dismantling/recycling] is the most sustainable method for disposing of ships that have reached the end of their useful life.”

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bay Bridge House Uses Recycled Materials to Conserve Historical Steel Scrap

When David Grieshaber, the co-founder of the Bay Bridge House, approached the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) with the idea of building a house out of scrap steel from the deconstructed San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, they ignored him. After a back and forth struggle, played out in the local media, the government finally had an answer: “Give us a proposal.” 

And for the next month and a half, over 73 proposals came in from students across 37 different schools and multiple countries. All of them describing unique, creative and innovative ways to turn this historically significant steel scrap into something remarkable. 

Bay Bridge House (Front View)

In all, the house will be utilizing approximately 792 tons of steel salvaged from the Bay Bridge project. Making a structure this size, without utilizing salvaged steel would require the mining of more than 1590 tons of iron ore, limestone and coal. It's the equivalent steel that would be used to build a fleet of nearly 1600 cars. But, rather, it will take a historic part of the Bay Area and convert it to a structure that will become historic in its own right. 

The Bay Bridge House is a project that David and his wife began in the summer of 2012 when they were startled to learn that a significant portion of the historical Bay Bridge, connecting Oakland and San Francisco, steel scrap was not being conserved. The project’s intentions were to do something more creative with some of the scrap, using a few small sections to create a modern self-sustaining house and eco multi-use space for the world. 

By utilizing the steel scrap from the deconstruction of the Bay Bridge, not only does it create a unique facility of historical significance but it also offsets the use of the material that would otherwise be used to produce that steel. 

“[Caltrans] couldn’t see the vision that my wife and I had,” says Grieshaber. “There wasn’t a way to convey it until we had these designs from the students. Now we can show the student designs and they say, ‘Oh, I get it, makes sense completely.’” 

“We wanted to make it a community product, and we had a lot of interest right off the bat,” says Grieshaber. “A friend, an architect, recommended a student design contest to get the newest and freshest ideas from around the world.” 

The winners were students, Lee Ka Chun and Ngan Ching Ying, from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture located in Copenhagen with their entry ‘Hanging House.

“We tried our best to make little to no restrictions on creativity. We wanted to keep the look of an actual bridge, visually tell it was the [old] Bay Bridge,” explained Grieshaber. “It also had to be a carbon neutral, net zero type of facility that will receive LEED AP status.” 

The repurposing of the bridge steel scrap, which itself contains a minimum of 25% recycled steel, benefits the group in their LEED plans. 

“The goal is to make it the most innovative eco type housing that’s built, not just on the west coast, but in all of America.” 

In addition to the notoriety of designing such a highly publicized facility, the students were awarded with a trophy created from an original 1933 Carnegie Steel S-curve from the bridge. They will also be offered an internship on the project and be listed as the architect on register if they do the necessary work, or the co-architect if they work with an area firm. 

“When I started, [some people] would look at me like I was totally nuts, but now I show them the designs, high ceilings, beautiful glass walls, great view of steel infrastructure around you and they understand,” says Grieshaber. “500 years from now, people will look back and see this building and they’ll instantly recognize it was part of our cultural history from the bay area.”  

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More information available here and on official website.