New sustainability ratings lead to new opportunities

The heavy engineering sector now has the ability to measure its sustainability and improve its global standing in climate reform due to work completed by the Sustainable Steel Council (SSC).

This was one of the key objectives met by the Council in phase one of its work, before it came under the umbrella of Metals New Zealand, six months ago.

With growing climate concerns worldwide, industries have been forced to re-look at how they interact with the environment, and most importantly, be challenged to adopt clean, sustainable thinking into their practices.

In response, New Zealand’s commercial infrastructure space became aligned to the Green Star rating, which undertakes assessment in both the design and build phases of a project to ascertain their overall environmental impact.

SSC aligned with the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) to ensure the scope of steel in the Green Star rating system was expanded beyond recycled steel.

In its annual report, HERA, formerly a key driver of SSC, said the work with NZGBC ensured New Zealand manufactured steel is dealt with fairly in the rating system, “not only continuing to support steel reinforcement, but expanding the scope of the Green Star steel credit to include structural steel buildings.”

The work also led to the credit systems including internationally recognised Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) in their assessment, allowing more than a single ecolabel type to be recognised to demonstrate a product’s sustainability attributes.

“Ensuring that the complete value chain is recognised, we’ve armed those of our members who have Environmental Management Systems (EMS) with the opportunity to improve their ratings by ensuring the complete value chain is recognised, including the impacts of fabrication and processing,” said the report.

Those achieving the sustainability rating were expected to enjoy new opportunities in international markets.

NZ Steel and Pacific Steel have already achieved the new rating.

Dr Wolfgang Scholz of HERA says the SSC’s work relating to the Green Building council and other schemes rating sustainability helped the Council to achieve its initial goal to ensure steel is recognised in terms of environmental benefits.

“However from a first principle point of view we would have loved a more thorough approach related to the whole of life cycle, similar to LEED. We believe a more scientific approach to accounting for carbon credits is also required. This movement is at a bit of a standstill in New Zealand at present, with no incentives out there to further it. As a result of that, the Council’s work was scaled down, and its portfolio brought under the Metals New Zealand umbrella.”

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