On Point - Perspective on Steel and Sustainability

As part of the VantagePoint Blog, we launched “On Point” a series of Q&A style blog posts, where we sit down with industry experts both inside ClarkDietrich and outside the company to get their views on the latest trends and topics in their respective fields. In this post, we caught up with our very own Code Development Manager, Adam Shoemaker, CDT, LEED AP, to get his perspective on steel and sustainability.



  1. Can you tell us about your role as Code Development Manager at ClarkDietrich?
    In the context of sustainability, my role as Code Development Manager is to understand and manage the interactive relationships between building codes, manufacturing codes and green building programs as they relate to ClarkDietrich Building Systems product lines.
  2. ClarkDietrich recently made headlines by becoming the first cold-formed steel manufacturer to issue EPD’s and HPD’s. Why was this important?
    The most recent version of LEED v4 had some fairly major revisions, two of which I will highlight here. The first is a new credit for an Integrative Process, which aims to bring project team members together earlier in the design process. This helps to identify synergies among systems and components. The Materials and Resources credit category also received an overhaul with three mainly new credits focusing on transparency. These include Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs); Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Sourcing of Raw Materials; and Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Material Ingredients. EPDs can contribute up to two points under the Environmental Product Declaration credit and Health Product Declarations contribute toward one point under the Material Ingredients credit. When architects and others from our customer base discussed with us these anticipated changes to LEED, they asked if we would be providing the noted resources.  As we see ourselves as part of the Integrative Process team, we made a strong push to be the first in our industry to publish these resources for our customers.
  3. Can you highlight any other sustainable initiatives ClarkDietrich embarks on from a corporate level?
    ClarkDietrich is an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council with LEED accredited professionals on staff. We are committed to supplying quality products and are always looking for new ways to develop greener building products and sustainable business practices. For instance, product development hones in on ease of installation and optimal use of material in an effort to assure waste is kept to a minimum. Further, we actively pursue packaging methods that reduce waste and promote recycling. We also recycle 100 percent of waste generated by our steel plants and use VOC-free rolling lubricants in our facilities in an effort to improve indoor air quality and the health of our employees. Similarly, we have upgraded lighting at our facilities to reduce energy consumption.
  4. Sustainable and green building are at the forefront in the design and construction of new buildings. How has ClarkDietrich responded to this shift?
    ClarkDietrich recognizes that humans are currently using 18 months of Earth’s renewable resources in only 12 months. We believe that because steel can be recycled an infinite number of times with no downcycling it is a great answer for sustainability. Wood, on the other hand, can only be recycled a handful of times before it becomes waste and must be disposed of. Further, construction and demolition waste account for approximately 40 percent of the total solid waste stream in the United States, and with a combination of recyclable and cut-to-length materials we can help drastically reduce the overall waste coming from construction sites.  On top of the benefits of steel, we have people on staff dedicated to understanding green building programs like LEED.  Keith Johnson is a LEED AP BD+C, I recently became one, and we have a handful of other people who are LEED Green Associates. So as a company we are dedicated to making sure we are educated and up to date on these programs.
  5. As it relates to steel framing, are there any game changing innovations that will shape the industry going forward?
    I think the economic downturn was a testament to our commitment to development. Despite an extremely poor market, we continued to work full time at our research and development facility on innovative products including our DiamondPlus Coating, and have many more innovations in the queue.