A first for the North – How reused steel is forming the core of the Salford Youth Zone

Salford Youth Zone will be a state-of-the-art space that dramatically expands the opportunities available to young people in Salford. The project is the result of a partnership between Salford-born businessman Fred Done, Salford City Council and HideOut Youth Zone, delivered with the support of national youth charity OnSide.

As structural and civil engineers for the project, renaissance has worked to develop a structural design that is both carbon efficient and affordable.

Saving costs and carbon

The Salford Youth Zone project will deliver an atrium-shaped building with ample space for activity rooms and learning environments. Initially, timber looked like it could be a viable structural alternative to steel, helping to dramatically reduce the amount of embodied carbon in the project.

After working with the client, it became clear that the costs of a timber frame meant the project simply wouldn’t be viable so we looked at different ways we could bring the embodied carbon count down.

Old steel, new purpose

Moving away from the timber method, we explored some different structural options with European Metal Recycling (EMR). EMR has stockpiled Steel from various demolition projects across Europe so they can reuse it as a low-carbon structural component. Once the steel has been tested for structural integrity and sized appropriately, the material can be reused with little to no new carbon involved in the changes.

Re-used, not recycled

It should be noted that there is a big distinction between reusing steel and recycling it. The latter method involves melting the metal down to recast it into a purpose-built new structural component. While a significant carbon reduction can still be achieved by recycling steel in comparison to smelting new steel, there is still a certain degree of energy consumption and hence carbon production in the melting and recasting of it.

When it comes to reusing steel, the steel is not melted down and recast, it is simply reused in its current state, finding a new life in a new building. The only carbon cost in this instance is the carbon produced in recovering it, transporting it and installing it.

All in all, reused steel uses less than 5% of the carbon used in recycling steel. It’s also relatively cheap when compared to using timber or smelting new steel, making it the perfect material for the Salford Youth Zone project.

A first for the North

While reusing steel has been done on a number of buildings down in London, the practice is yet to take off in the North. When Salford Youth Zone is built, we believe it’ll be the first building re-using steel in the North-West, perhaps even the North in general.

As well as providing a fantastic new space for young people to grow and realise their potential, it’ll be a building leading the way in sustainable use of materials.