Smith and Wallwork has written to industry journal ‘The Structural Engineer’ asking them to clarify the accuracy of a research paper recently published in their magazine.

The paper titled ‘A comparative embodied carbon assessment of commercial buildings’ found that of all building types studied (distribution warehouse, supermarket, school, office and mixed-use) steel frame was the cheapest in terms of cost and carbon when compared to concrete or timber frame options.

Perhaps not surprisingly the research paper was written by the The Steel Construction Institute and the British Constructional Steelwork Association. What is surprising though is that peer review of the paper did not query some of the data sources used and that the journal has allowed such positioning by industry under the auspices of research.

One cannot fault the steel industry for promoting its product, in fact it should be proud of the fact that is it our most recycled material (not always recycled safely – have a look at ship breaking in Bangladesh). However our industry needs clear and independent research to move forward in the sustainable design arena, self promotion will just muddy the waters and make us appear ill informed.

To read a copy of our letter to The Structural Engineer visit our Opinion page; click here.