There are many cost implications involved in any construction project. Material costs, construction costs, life cycle costing and cost to society. Steel may come with an initial material cost that is higher than some of its competitors, but it offers an array of ongoing cost benefits that make it an ideal design choice.
For most projects, the decision on the frame material choice and form happens early in the design process, often on the basis of early design principles, limited information and budget costings. Once selected, the frame material is unlikely to change, as to do so can have significant impacts for other aspects of the project.
Costing structural steel for a project can be challenging as prices may fluctuate across the project’s phases, which can complicate tendering processes.
Key cost drivers for structural steel frames:
- Function, sector and building height
- Form, site conditions and complexity
- Location, logistics and access
- Programme, risk and procurement route
Life cycle costing is increasing in importance as sustainability aspects become more central to the planning of construction projects. Here steel is a strong performer due to its ability to be refurbished, recycled and reused once a building’s initial service life is concluded.
This improved environmental performance also has impacts on lowering costs to society. While steel production is carbon and energy intensive, the industry has made great strides in lowering its emissions over the past 50 years. It has also reduced the energy consumption per tonne of steel produced by 61% in this time.