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Sustainability of Lightweight Steel

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Construction
Wordcount: 4719 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Lightweight Steel

Sustainability of Lightweight Steel


-         Abstract ……………………………………………………………………….3

-         Introduction …………………………………………………………………. 3

-         The Versatility & Flexibility of Lightweight Steel /……………………………. 4

-         Speed of construction through using lightweight steel ………….……. 6

-         Recycling of Lightweight Steel ……………………………….…………. 7

-         Roofing alternatives with using Lightweight Steel ……………………… 10

-         Sporting Stadia – Case Studies …………………………….…………… 11

-         Bibliography ……………………………………………………………………16

-         PDP ……………………………………………………………………………18


In this document we identify the key points as to why lightweight steel is sustainable and explain why it is the first-choice material use in the construction industry in the process of constructing a sporting arena. This document states why lightweight steel is used to help benefit contractors by the speed it takes to prefabricate it and transport it to site along with why it helps benefit the surrounding environment in terms of CO2 emissions and different types of pollution.


Lightweight steel is one of the most used materials in the construction industry and more specifically in the industry of sporting arenas certainly in the modern era. Lightweight steel is used because of its sustainability and the way it can we adapted to cater for contractors, council requirements and public viewing. Because of its versatility it can help to create aesthetically pleasing arrangements and roofing, an example would be Wembley Stadium, Twickenham and Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux these have their unique designs which sets them apart from other arenas. The sustainability means that it will have reduced impacts on the local environment and community, but it will also help the contractors as structures can be prefabricated and transported to site and be constructed meaning the process of the project speeds up and lees materials and man power is used.

The Versatility and Flexibility of Lightweight Steel

Lightweight steel can be versatile and flexible in many ways and has the potential to be manipulated to create aesthetically pleasing structures in the form of sporting arenas. In the modern day where buildings need changing and adapting to cater different needs, the versatility of steel means it can extend internal space within a building to increase the life cycle of the structure.

Lightweight Steel has a versatility that allows structures to be unique and it is an attracting material to work with in other industries such as commercial, residential.

Lightweight steel offers a versatile feature that other building materials struggle to compete with, steel can be recycled many times without losing its properties, due to its versatility. Because it can be recycled into other products this means it is then sustainable because it does not impact the surrounding environment through pollution or any other means. However, it reacts and thrives in many environments as it can sustain extreme weathers of hot and cold along with heavy rain and snow fall, this means that it can be used all year round and projects will not be halted, and they can continue their means of work.

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Linking this to sporting stadiums and arenas, the flexibility of lightweight steel can get around the potential issues of planning permissions and designs flaws, the local council often place restrictions and boundaries for the local area, so they are not affected by the noise and visual pollution of the site. However lightweight steel can be adapted in the design process as it is a versatile material which means that the constraints put in place are not an issue.

In large arenas the capacity can be changed dependant on the number of spectators, this is beneficial because it can impact the local community such as local businesses and will attract large people to the local area. An example of this is the London 2012 Aquatics centre, the structure required unusual adaptations and difficult requirements to cater for the number of spectators. Specifically, the roof was made of lightweight steel, steel trusses in a structured arrangement made it ideal to change the height and orientation of the roof which gave it a modern look and it encouraged spectators to attend swimming events.

Lightweight steel is sustainable because of its versatile components, it can be recycled and used for many other tasks meaning it causes little damage to the environment as it does not have to be replaced or broken-down using machinery. Less frequent deliveries are required as the material is strong and can be used on site repeatedly. 

Speed of Construction through using Lightweight Steel

The speed of which lightweight steel can be placed and structured is the reason why it is sustainable. The quicker the frame is put up it means machinery will be used far less than expected, therefore it reduces the flow of lorries and plants, this reduces the amount of noise and chemical pollution and has a positive impact on the surroundings reducing the disturbance that the locals may be affected by.

The speed of the construction gives opportunities for early commencement for mechanical & electrical services meaning the cost of the project reduces along with the timescale.

Another reason lightweight steel is sustainable is that the speed of the project increases because the materials and frames can be constructed together to make modular frames which then requested by the contractors this can then be easily placed into position, this is known as prefabrication. Because of this storage space is increased and needless rubbish and waste is visible for any members of the public looking at the site. Not only is it quick and easily adjustable but prefabrication is a great way to promote and create a safer working environment, groundworkers will not be impacted by the materials not being on site and they won’t be causing trip hazards. This is a sustainable method because the more materials build up, they can cause problems and it would mean workers will have to access materials in an unsafe manner this could result into injuries.

Prefabrication which is the constructing of a structure offsite and then transporting it to it locate on site. Lightweight steel aids the prefabrication process as the speed it goes up is very impressive not only the structure, panels or roofing can go through the same process which is also beneficial. Fewer groundworkers and less machinery means for the contractor it is very sustainably economical.

Recycling of Lightweight Steel

The source of the data below is:

Drawn in 2016 by explainthatstuff.com using the latest available data, taken from the following sources: Steel: US Geological Survey; Aluminium: US Geological Survey; Aluminium cans: Aluminium Association; Paper: US EPA; Glass: Glass Packaging Institute; Rubber: Rubber Manufacturers Association; Plastic: Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

Woodford, C. (2018). Recycling. Available: https://www.explainthatstuff.com/recycling.html. Last accessed 31st October 2018.



As we can see from the diagram above lightweight steel is one of the most recycled materials on the planet. The way it is recycled and identified from other materials is by using big electromagnets at scrap yards and sometimes construction sites, the electro magnets attract the material and lifts the steel up and remove any other scrap materials such as copper and aluminium. This is an effective method because it can be done within an instant and by machinery rather than workers sorting it by their hands and this is can be slow and expensive process.

As we can identify in the graph steel materials are generally recycled the most than any other materials. In comparison to paper, steel in recycled over 20% more this means it is a more sustainable material to use than aluminium for example because that is only recycled at 30%. The benefits of having a high percentage of steel recycled is that it reduces emissions of greenhouse gases which ultimately helps to reduce global warming and other problems with the planet such as sea level rise.

Recycling steel also saves energy as natural resources are conserved and the impact and use of machinery is no longer required. The reason it saves energy is because recycled steel has already been processed and refined previously which means that is does not lose any of its properties or strength.

According to ‘www.recyclemore.co.uk’ steel reduces air emissions by 86% and water pollution by 76%. From this information it means that the material is sustainable as it has a positive impact on the local environment such as helping to save wildlife and other animals in the ocean and it means the surrounding air and oxygen is clean and members of the public are not breathing in dust or potential harmful gases.

Roofing alternatives with using Lightweight Steel

Lightweight steel is the most popular material choice for designing and constructing an innovative roof, this could be on a football stadium or concert arena. Roofs are generally designed separate to the structure because of this they must be carefully crafted and built to fit on top of the structure, lightweight steel give contractors the option to build it separately than the structure because it is a versatile and sustainable material meaning requirements can be changed easily.

Lightweight steel can be paired up with cables and specific membranes to create visually appealing translucent roofs. These roofs can be found in shopping centres but are popular in football stadiums across the globe, this is because they are easy to construct but also, they benefit the spectators because it lets in large amounts of light to that it projects visually what is happening on the football field. An example of this is the US Bank Stadium that hosts the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL, it holds 62,000 people and it gives the stadium an outdoor and welcoming feeling. It benefits the spectators because it sheds light around the stadium and visually is astounding. The lightweight steel holds the roof up and provides enough support that it withstands heavy rain and snow. The membrane and roof in general spans 240,000 feet and 60% of the roof is made up the membrane sheet and is held up by steel brackets that supports the roof.

Another example of using lightweight steel to construction a sporting stadium roof is Twickenham, there north stand has a cantilever roof which is fixed down at one end which means the other end hangs over the spectators which provides necessary shelter and a great viewing experience because beams and columns no longer will obstruct views.

The whole stadium holds 82,000 people and there are no viewing restrictions which means it is a pleasant experience for everyone.

This is a sustainable roofing method because the majority amounts of steel is used in the cantilever beam which supports the entire roof and there is no more steel required to support the front of the roof meaning in general small amounts of lightweight steel is used to support the roof , this means that it is sustainable because power tools and other machinery are used less which reduces the general sound, noise and environmental pollution which has positive impacts on the community and local town near the stadium.

Lightweight Steel used in Sporting Stadiums – Case Studies

The first case study is the Peninsula Stadium this is home of Salford City FC it holds 5,000 people with 2 terraced stands and 2 all seated stands. It was constructed in 2017 with a total cost of £4 million, this included a new fan zone, hospitality facilities and a clubhouse.

Groundworks started in November 2016 and begun with a lightweight steel frame, the reason they chose this material is because to meet financial constraints as they do not want to go over budget as it could have a negative effect on the club. A lightweight steel frame was also chosen because it takes little time to construct and it provides great strength and can withstand all weathers and shelters all spectators. The availability of lightweight steel also helped to speed up the process, as the club was under pressure by the council and the league it meant that they had to complete health and safety checks in small time frames to meet certain requirements otherwise there could have been consequences, the stadium met the requirements due to the lightweight steel frame being constructed and put up in a quick manner, it meant that it was sustainable because the process wasn’t dragging along and it did not affect the local community as they was still able to attend matches. 

The flexibility and versatility of lightweight steel meant that the steel structure was able to be adapted to meet the requirements of the fan base but also to meet necessary health and safety requirements. A small example of this is that the floodlights where shaped to the club’s badge to give it a unique touch and make the place a home.

Lightweight steel is a sustainable material because it reduces emissions of Carbon Dioxide as the process of refining raw materials is not as necessary and the environmental effects of this is minimal. More emissions mean that an increased effect on the surrounding environment, also as steel beams and structures require less materials it means that less transport vehicles are active, and a decreased trade means less transport evidently it means that there will be a reduced emission of harmful particles from large trucks and lorries.

The next case study is the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium it was opened in May 2010 and has a capacity of 30,050. It is a versatile arena which hold football matches, rugby and concerts, this is a result of using lightweight steel in construction as it can cater for large audiences and can be financially beneficial for the owners.

This case study is on a much larger scale to the previous one, a lightweight steels structure was incorporated to create a cantilever roof structure which makes the stadium appealing on the eye, the roof requires no columns, pillars or walls which makes the stadium suitable for all spectators.

Inspiration for the stadium came from the geodesic dome, therefore lightweight steel was required because its gives structures a unique feel but also the strength of the material is still fantastic and less of it is required meaning less energy is used in power tools, machinery etc.

This structure is a suitable stadium because according to RMD Kwickform the stadium uses 50% less steel for its roof in comparison to other sporting arenas, this shows that less materials, machinery and transport vehicles where used which means that less emissions and harmful substances from lorry engines which will have effects on the local community.

According to ‘Ecozine’ the “stadium has a rainwater collection system that saves as much as 500,000 gallons of water each year” –Browne E. (2017). SUSTAINABLE FOOTBALL STADIUMS. Available: http://www.ecozine.com/article/sustainable-football-stadiums. Last accessed 13th November 2018.

This shows that whilst the stadium is still active that it is still helping the local environment and still being sustainable. The rain water collection systems can filter the water and it can be reused to function taps or use in the toilets, it means that water is conserved and can be used time again. The rainwater can also be used to help water the pitch this is another sustainable method used by the stadium manager.



In conclusion, lightweight steel construction will continue to be the for front in constructing sporting arenas in the modern era as it is sustainable in many ways that I have mentioned above. These include the speed of construction and how quickly a steel frame can be constructed and placed up, the versatility of steel and how it can be adapted and finally the recyclability of lightweight steel. Overall, lightweight steel is a sustainable material which reduces the emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases and reduces the use of machinery and power tools. A simple recommendation would be to use lightweight steel for any projects no matter the size as it is resistant to all types of weathers and effective all year round, it provides good recyclability and offers a unique design and capabilities that other materials fail to offer.

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