New Study Shows Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions for North American Steel vs. Chinese Steel for Building Construction

November 28, 2018

PITTSBURGH, PA – Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from production of Chinese steel are substantially greater than emissions from production of comparable steel in North America, according to a series of reports released today by the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).

Two peer-reviewed reports (North America and China) compare hot-dip galvanized (HDG) steel coils produced in North America, primarily used in the construction and automotive sectors, to the same product produced in China and shipped to the North American market. The study found that hot-dip galvanized coil sourced from China results in nearly 50 percent higher GHG emissions.

“In the sustainable design of steel-framed buildings, one of the most important decisions an owner or architect can make regarding environmental impact is to ensure the building’s steel is produced in North America,” said Mark Thimons, vice president of sustainability for SMDI.

Thimons cited an example from another SMDI study involving the design of a four-story cold-formed steel office building in Minneapolis, Minnesota which showed that the building (core and shell only) includes about 100 tons of HDG for the structural framing, floor deck and roof deck. If steel from China is used for this building instead of North American-produced steel, the GHG emissions associated with the production of the steel used would increase by more than 100 tons (CO2eq). For this single four-story structure, the difference is equivalent to the GHG emissions from consuming over 10,000 gallons of gasoline.

The study released today complements previously-released information from the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) documenting that hot-rolled structural sections produced in China result in three times the GHG emissions compared to the same product produced in North America.

View the full research summary here and for more information, visit

Lisa Harrison ( 202-456-7115


AISI serves as the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena and advances the case for steel in the marketplace as the preferred material of choice. AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology. AISI is comprised of 19 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and approximately 120 associate members who are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry. For more news about steel and its applications, view AISI’s website at Follow AISI on Facebook or Twitter (@AISISteel)