Big Carbon Drop in ‘Smart’ NZ Idea

A Kiwi-designed structural system used in the construction of large-scale steel commercial and industrial buildings results in a reduction of carbon emissions by more than 40 per cent, an Australian university research project has found.

In a 2021 Building 4.0 CRC study undertaken at Monash University in Melbourne*, researchers concluded that the unique system – built by Coresteel Buildings in New Zealand – results in “significant carbon reductions” when compared to traditional steel construction methods.

Coresteel is now using the structural product to drive change in the New Zealand construction market says the company’s national commercial manager Simon Archer.

He says the tapered box beam design – known as DonoBeam – represents a major step towards the reducing greenhouse gas emissions created by the construction industry which, globally, accounts for up to 40 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Archer says the innovative design reduces carbon emissions. DonoBeam uses less raw materials and is typically lighter, resulting in fewer transport emissions to building sites. Pre-fabrication of the structure also cuts construction time on-site.

Archer says DonoBeam is a patented design co-developed in 2015 with BlueScope Steel and has been used in over 200 buildings in New Zealand so far. He says the product was designed by “smart engineers in our business who realised there is room for greater innovation in the construction industry.

“In many ways construction is a bit of a dinosaur in New Zealand and much of it still operates in the old ways,” he says. “We saw a real need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as supporting the global movement to improve sustainability within construction is a key priority for us.”

The Monash study evaluated the potential environmental benefits of the DonoBeam structures compared to traditional systems. The results revealed savings of up to 47.5 per cent in steel emissions, and up to 32 per cent in transport emissions.

“The whole-of-life impacts of both warehouses was modelled from cradle to construction including the acquisition of raw materials, transportation to manufacturing facilities, manufacturing of building components, transportation to the building site and construction,” the report said. “This analysis………showed a significant carbon reduction.”

Archer says alongside the significant cost-savings in steel, DonoBeam delivers larger spans and greater design flexibility. This results in more unobstructed space inside a building, with clear spans out to 75m, or even larger when propped.

“This versatile system can also incorporate a range of architectural or practical elements that a business needs – all with a unique architectural aesthetic to make a project stand out from the competition.”

There are 25 Coresteel franchises throughout New Zealand. Since it was established, the company has built over 2000 industrial and commercial steel-framed buildings including retail buildings, warehouses, workshops, aircraft hangars and large-scale community complexes.

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*This research was supported by Building 4.0 CRC, and the study used internationally recognised ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 standards for environmental lifecycle assessment.

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