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Brian Tomcik (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 04:12 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Hi everybody. I was hoping to get some guidance on how to easily/properly/correctly track steel recycled content on the projects I manage. I work for a small steel fabricator and erector and we run into LEED projects every so often and have trouble trying to gather the correct information easily and correctly and present it to the general contractor.

There are several questions I have and hope someone can help. First, we buy our steel through various distributors since we are small and do not have accounts directly with steel mills like larger fabricators do. As a result, we are sometimes able to get mill certs for steel pieces, but often our distributors do not have the certs available.

By not being able to buy directly from a mill, we may get steel for a particular project from a dozen different mills after all is said and done, and like I mentioned above, we get some mill certs, but certainly not all the certs for all the steel purchased for a project. In fact sometimes we use our stock steel for emergencies for use on a job and donít have the certs available for the stock material.

How do I correctly present the recycled content for the steel? For the steel we have mill certs for, I have recycled content letters from the corresponding mill. If for example you have $200,000 in steel material/fab costs on a project, when you turn in your LEED form to the general contractor, do you break out the costs per mill? Iíve seen it where people will put $200,000 for material value and put a dozen mill recycled content letters stapled to the form and thatís it.

I ask because I have no idea how to break it out by mill, if thatís even needed. We may order (30) angles from a distributor and those angles could come from (5) different mills and be used on multiple projects. The angles are put in a stack in our shop and when a worker pulls an angle for a job, we have no idea which mill that piece came from, and thereís even a possibility that a single stick of angle could be used on a couple projects. How can you track material costs in that situation, or do you even have to? Do you track how many hours a guy spent fabíing a piece, the cost of the paint he used, how many welding rods? So confusing.

I was thinking of just using the RSIís recycled content letter with the assumption of using electric arc furnaces for structural shapes like W-beams, angles, channels, tube, pipe, etc. but I donít know if that would even fly with the LEED consultants on the projects.

Steven Bruneel, AIA, CSI-CDT, LEED-AP
Senior Member
Username: redseca2

Post Number: 221
Registered: 12-2006

Posted on Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 05:48 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

We always include the following default in our specifications for all steel in the "Submittals" article of the specification:

"For steel products, if recycled content data is not available from the manufacturer, a default value of 25% post-consumer recycled content may be used".

Even though that may be low, perhaps you use that as your basis and move up in percentage when you can provide documentation.
Wayne Yancey
Senior Member
Username: wayne_yancey

Post Number: 313
Registered: 01-2008

Posted on Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 05:56 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

US-EPA Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPG) discusses steel manufactured in either a Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) or an Electric Arc Furnace (EAF). Recommendations for recycled content in steel reinforcing are not stated.

Steel from the BOF process contains 25-30 percent total recovered materials, of which 16 percent is post-consumer steel. Steel from the EAF process contains a total of 100 percent recovered steel, of which 67 percent is post-consumer. The Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) provides annual post-consumer and pre-consumer recycled content values for BOF and EAF with its fact sheet, ďSteel Takes LEED With Recycled ContentĒ.

Typical BOF products include: hollow structural sections, steel studs, steel deck, plate, purlins, and wall studs. Typical EAF products include: beams and columns, channels, angles, plate, steel deck, and piling.

The amount of recycled content in steel products varies over time, both as a function of the cost of steel scrap and its availability.

For more information, refer to SRI at www.recycle-steel.org which includes detailed information on recycling rates, recycling databases; and, the American Institute of Steel Construction at www.aisc.org/sustainability which includes detailed information on how steel factors into the LEED rating system, steel mill recycled content documentation.
Lisa Goodwin Robbins, RA, CCS, LEED ap
Senior Member
Username: lgoodrob

Post Number: 60
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 08:38 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post


We work with a completely anal LEED consultant, who could tell you exactly what type of paperwork the GBCI people like to receive for LEED credits. Shoot me an email and I will respond offline.

lisa at kalinassociates dot com
Mark Gilligan SE, CSI
Senior Member
Username: mark_gilligan

Post Number: 259
Registered: 10-2007
Posted on Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 09:35 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post


You used two terms "mill certs" and "recycling content letters". Hopefully you can clarify if the way they are used here they are the same or different documents.

Typically a mill cert provides information on source of steel, mechanical properties, and amount of aloys. This mill cert historically has not provided information on recycling content. We would not want steel that does not have this mill cert, on the project.
Brian Tomcik (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 10:59 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Mark - I am using "mill cert" and "recycling content letters" as two different things, as they are. I guess what I was trying to convey was that by getting a hold of a mill cert, I can tell which mill a piece of steel came from and can then provide a recycling content letter for that mill. Often we don't get mill certs and have no way of knowing where a piece of steel came from. As you can see in my original post, I have multiple issues on how to properly account for material costs since the steel we get comes from many sources and present the costs to the GC. Thanks!
Mark Gilligan SE, CSI
Senior Member
Username: mark_gilligan

Post Number: 260
Registered: 10-2007
Posted on Friday, February 26, 2010 - 01:56 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

My point is that if I were the structural engineer on the project I would not find it acceptable to use steel that does not have a mill certificate. Contractually this is implicit in the requirement to submit mill certificates. Additionally when special inspection is required by the IBC the special inspector must see a mill certificate to verify compliance.

This need for a mill cert is separate from any LEED requirements.

I understand that in the case of stock steel it may not always be possible to associate each individual piece with a specific mill report. One way of dealing with this situation is that the fabricator has a process that verifies that there is a mill cert for each piece that goes into stock.

There may be some situations where steel without a mill cert is acceptable but normally this is limited to metal fabrications that are not shown on the structural drawings.
Brian Tomcik (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Friday, February 26, 2010 - 07:57 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I see your point Mark about having a mill cert. I have been thinking of having our company get a mill cert for every piece we get into the shop.

Now as for LEED...what do I do? Thanks.
John Bunzick, CCS, CCCA, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: bunzick

Post Number: 1172
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Tuesday, March 02, 2010 - 11:29 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Mark, not all steel used may need to have a mill certification, depending upon how it is used.

As to Mr. Tomcik's comment, the best I can offer is to note that the typical recycled content of a mill probably doesn't change much over time, so you may be best off just supplying the information as best as you can. A very important distinction to be made is whether the spec is requiring only that you submit information on the content, whatever it may be, or whether the spec requires the steel have a specific minimum content (other than the industry standard 25%). In the latter case, you have to make sure you meet the miniwum and have the documentation to prove it. I suppose you may even have to pay more for the steel in that case given your distribution channels.

Editorial note: Mr. Tomcik's problem is classic, and one of the reasons why I've slowly come to really dislike the recycled and regional content requirements in LEED and CHPS.

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