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Members of the building-materials supply chain can expect a lot more paperwork to satisfy more green-building codes and standards, code watchers say.

In a couple of years, every segment of the building-materials supply chain will need to meet the requirements of three green model codes and energy standards, not simply one, said John P. Cross, a vice president of the Chicago-based American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) at the 2012 North American Steel Construction Conference, held on April 18-20 in Grapevine, Texas. The conference, with a record attendance of more than 3,500, incorporated the World Steel Bridge Symposium and the Annual Stability Conference.

No longer will each segment of the supply chain be able to focus only on the stipulations of the U.S. Green Building Council's green building rating system, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Soon they will have to accommodate LEED as well as updates in other model codes and energy conservation standards when looking at a green project, said Cross. These include Ashrae's energy conservation standard, Standard 189.1, and the International Code Council's International Green Construction Code (IgCC).

Within the steel supply chain, fabricators, mills, producers and service centers are not the only ones affected. Even structural engineers need to prepare for a "paradigm shift" in terms of the green information required of them, warned Cross.

The upcoming documentation needs are further complicated by the coming transition from LEED 2009 to the proposed LEED 2012, currently undergoing its third public review.

The materials documentation changes will occur over time, as the latest versions of the green model codes and standards are adopted and implemented. "My guess is that these expanded information requirements won’t really be a major factor until 2014 or 2015," predicted Cross. "But it is important for every stage of the supply chain to start to prepare for those information and documentation demands now."

Cross outlined his vision of the future information needs for each member of the steel supply chain, including useful tips—all of which are listed below.

For Steel Mills and Producers
For every product line:

  • Help develop an industry-wide product category rule.

  • Support the publication of an industry-wide energy product declaration (EPD).

  • Publish chemical content information.

  • Publish a producer-specific product EPD.

Collect operational data to support EPDs.

  • Track the source of all major materials—including scrap, iron-ore and coke products that come from a basic oxygen furnace (BOF) process—and semi-finished products, such as coil used in the production of high-strength steel.

Maintain records of pre- and post-consumer content.

Be prepared to distribute the documented recovery rate of the product.

Track the shipping mode by typical radius.

Document process as electric arc furnace (EAF) or BOF.

Consider including some of this material on the material test report (MTR).

For Service Centers
For all stocked material, include the following information:

  • Mill source, including location.

  • Transportation history (rail, barge, truck).

Have in possession to pass on with material:

  • Industry EPD for product type.

  • Producer EPD, if available.

  • Product chemical content sheets.

  • Industry-wide recycled-content and recovery-rate values.

For Fabricators
For every material order, document for each product and source:

  • Mill source, including location.

  • Mill type (BOF or EAF).

  • Recycled content (pre- and post-consumer).

  • Percentage of raw materials from project site's radius.

  • Source of ore and coke (BOF only).

  • Transportation history.

Have in possession for documentation:

  • Industry EPD for product type.

  • Producer EPD, if available.

  • Product chemical content sheets.

  • Industry recycled-content and recovery-rate values.

  • Mill test report on file.

For each project, fabricators should have:

  • Cost of material delivered to site.

  • Mass of material delivered to site.

  • Volume of material delivered to site (may not be possible or meaningful).

For Structural Engineers
Have a crib sheet handy for all materials that shows:

  • Typical recycled content.

  • Recovery rate.

  • Typical sourcing for the project site area (location of scrap, mill, fabricator).

  • Typical transportation mode and split between modes.

  • Availability of EPD and chemical content sheets.

Estimate building mass and volume at each phase of design.

Perform preliminary threshold calculations.

Evaluate the possibility of using used material.

Prepare standard language for frame service life.

Prepare to opine on the deconstructibility of the structure.

Specify material requirements necessary to meet project thresholds, not project thresholds for each material.

Learn about life-cycle assessments and their limitations.

Be prepared to educate local jurisdictions about the requirements.