Steel homes can come in all different shapes and sizes. They can be purchased as DIY kits; prefabricated kits; modular; and green architecture.
Building steel residential homes are becoming very popular in 2018. To know where the steel home revolution is going you need to know where and how it began.
The building of steel residential properties started many years ago. The Manning Portable Cottage was one of the first prefabricated homes to be built in the 1800’s. It was constructed in England, and the intent was to help the poor in Austria.
At the turn of the Twentieth Century, Sears Roebuck began selling prefabricated homes, but they were considered cookie cutter homes.
Architects like Frank Lloyd Wright contributed to the input of steel residential homes, as well as other prominent architects of that time.
Frank Lloyd Wright began building prefabricated homes in the year 1911. He created a method of building the homes in one place, and he would then transport them to the building site to be assembled.
Wright’s homes were more unique than the homes being sold by Sears Roebuck. He used steel, concrete, and wood to build his homes.
In 1938 he proposed a building project in Los Angeles called “All-Steel Houses.” Each residential house would have its’ own unique design, but the overall construction system would be standardized to keep the cost down of each house. Due to the war, the inflated cost of materials ended the project.
Other architects began following his lead and also began designing similar steel residential homes.
One of those architects known for using steel for his homes was Donald Allen Wexler. He was an architect in the 1950s – 1960s whose work can be found in the Palm Springs, California area. He is known for having started the building of homes using steel in the residential design.
In 1958, a structural engineer by the name of Bernard Perlin approached Wexler with an offer - design 38 flat-roofed all-steel homes in Palm Springs for two developers. Wexler accepted the job. Other great architects - Raphael Soriano, Charles and Ray Eames, Craig Ellwood, Pierre Koenig, and A. Quincy Jones—had already tried to design and build steel homes and they failed to use steel for the mass-production of steel residential homes.
Wexler’s designs were different than other architects of that time. Other architects incorporated the steel into already existing structures, but Wexler made it the entire structure. Wexler's houses were easily replicable, slim, and beautifully functional so they were the answer to construction for postwar housing. Later Wexler was known to say that the seven steel houses would never come down, they would have to be bulldozed. He said they would be there forever.
Some of the Homes Donald Wexler Built
As modern machines became more sophisticated and refined, the craftsmanship of steel homes became more detailed and more steel homes began to be built.
In these modern times, it’s easier and more cost-efficient to build a steel home. Technology has made houses like this more attainable for the average consumer.
5 Facts You Should Be Aware of about Residential Steel Buildings before Building One
1) Site Selection Matters – It is to your advantage to wait before you build. Examine the home site after a storm to determine the water movement and how it affects your property. Doing this will help you determine the best location and angle for your home. Waiting a few months to build so you can determine this important point is to your advantage.
2) Sustainability – When you build with steel you are using a sustainable building material. Most of the steel materials that are used in building a home are recyclable. This point will be favorable for anyone who is concerned about what size footprint they will leave on the earth after they’re gone.
The footprint of a steel home is the area used of the building structure. The landscape is not considered in it.
3) Superior Energy-Efficiency – Steel framing is more energy efficient than traditional methods such as wood. If steel production is done right, it can exceed energy efficient requirements and prevent cracks and warping. Cool metal roofing materials can be painted or not painted. The consumer can choose how reflective and insulated their roof will be. If you prefer a lot of light, you can include skylights on the roof that will give you the desired additional light. Ventilation on the roof will help with airflow and provide greater indoor air quality.
4) Consider Wireless Reception – It’s difficult to get a signal when the framing is made of steel. Speaking with your manufacturer about your concerns can yield options to overcome this particular issue.
5) The Looks of the Steel Home – There are many exterior options available to the consumer. Almost anything you like in a traditional home can also be replicated by metal building manufacturers.
A Few Reasons for Using Steel in Residential Construction
1) Strength, Design Freedom, and Beauty - Because of steel’s strength, durability, beauty, architects will have more room to explore ideas and discover and experiment with fresh ideas.
Because of steel’s long-spanning ability, large open spaces are possible, free load bearing walls. Steel can bend so segmented curves can be made for facades or arches. Because steel framing is produced in controlled conditions, the risk of on-site differences is diminished.
Steel homes are durable, resilient, and cost-effective. Sometimes the first impression one will have when talking about a residential steel home is that it must be boxy looking and not aesthetically pleasing at all. That is just not the case any longer. Once you see all the options available to you, your opinion will most likely change.
2) Efficient and Quick - Steel can be assembled quickly and efficiently in any season. The steel framing is produced off-site with minimal labor on the site. A whole frame can be erected in a matter of days rather than weeks. Steel is lighter weight compared to materials such as concrete, so it can have a smaller and simpler foundation. This reduces the cost at sites, and it makes for quicker project schedules.
3) Adaptable and Accessible - In the future, a homeowner may want to make changes to their current steel residential home that could increase floor loads significantly. They may want to move walls to create new room layouts due to different needs or space usage. Steel-built structures are perfect for these changes. The current beams can be reinforced with additional framing to accommodate these changes. Using steel framing and floor systems also make it easier to alter electrical wiring or computer networking cables if needed.
4) More Open Space - Steel sections provide a less expensive method of spanning long distances. Extended steel spans can create large, open plans.
5) Recyclable - When a steel framed building is demolished, the materials can be reused/recycled and thus, be repurposed. Steel can be recycled continuously without losing any of the original properties. That also means nothing is wasted.
6) Fire Resistance - Extensive testing has been done of steel framing so there is more understanding of how these structures will respond to fire.
7) Resistance to Earthquakes - Steel can withstand earthquakes because it is flexible and that’s the reason it is more often chosen for the design of residential homes. It can bend under extreme loads instead of crushing or crumbling like other materials. Many of the beam-to-column connections in a steel building are designed to support gravity loads. Steel framing can also resist lateral loads caused by wind and earthquakes.
A home built with steel can withstand winds up to 150 miles per hour without sustaining any damage to the outside of it. The outer shell is also flame retardant. Although steel won’t rot or bend, it can rust. For this reason, it should never be used for the construction of basements or be used in flood-prone areas.
8) Aesthetics - The slender framing of steel gives the interior of these buildings openness. The flexibility of steel can give architects more options for exploring shapes and textures for your residential steel home.
9) More Space and Less Material - Steel can maximize space because it is much thinner and smaller than wood beams. The depth of steel beams is approximately half of what a wood beam is. The thickness of a wall can be thinner because there’s no need to build solid, space-consuming brick walls. This can be very helpful for smaller sites that may have space challenges.
10) Lighter and Less Impact on the Environment - Steel structures are lighter than concrete, so it will require less extensive foundations, which will reduce the environmental impact. Lighter materials are easier to move which will reduce the transportation and fuel cost. Steel is energy efficient which creates a cooler home in a hot climate. The heat can radiate quickly from steel roofing. If you are building in a cold climate, the walls can be well insulated to better contain the heat.
A steel frame house doesn’t have to look like a boring, solid cube or box. The outside of the house can have a brick or wood façade, or even clapboard or vinyl siding.
There are two ways steel is produced – either by the hot method or the cold method. The hot method is more expensive due to the process of producing it. Cold-formed steel is used for residential buildings because it can be formed into a thinner profile and it can also be cut and folded if needed. Because the frames are custom made and sized during the production process, there is no need to cut them and fix the size during the construction of the home.
The steel framing can be ordered pre-framed which means fewer labor costs and a shorter construction period. There are numerous builders you can find online that produce and build steel residential homes. They also offer different designs and options for the homebuilder.
Steel is considered one of the most reliable building materials available for commercial buildings, and it is now being considered more often for construction of residential buildings.
The most important advantage of steel framing is its durability. Steel frames don’t warp or expand compared to their counterpart – wood framing. There also is no issue with fungus or insects, such as termites. A steel home is also more resistant to earthquakes and even hurricanes.
The inside frames of these homes are grounded to the earth which gives the structure more stability to the construction. Steel framing is also more lightweight than traditional wood framing. It also has a longer lifespan compared to other types of framing.
There are some disadvantages to steel frames, but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Steel framing has poorer insulation due to the fast conduction of heat. Due to this, higher efficiency insulation should be installed to overcome this issue.
Compared to wood framing which can rot, is combustible, and isn’t as strong as its steel counterpart, a steel frame seems much more desirable.
Not every contractor has the necessary knowledge and equipment to build a steel home, so you need to do your due diligence as a consumer and research and educate yourself with the process of steel construction of homes. You should also research all the options that are available to you for the looks of the home.
More and more consumers are looking for ways to leave less of a footprint on the earth. A steel framed residential home will be very attractive and interesting to them in accomplishing this.
Steel homes can be built faster than traditional wood framing, so the construction costs can also be less. As Frank Lloyd Wright did, so do modern builders, they pre-fabricate the steel frame building in one location, then deliver the pre-fabricated pieces to the construction site to be constructed.
The words steel or metal building often bring to mind skyscrapers or agricultural buildings. The average homeowner rarely thinks about a steel or metal dream home. More and more consumers are beginning to look into this type of home as an alternative to traditional building.
Potential homeowners and contractors are discovering the advantages of using steel and how sustainable, durable and affordable residential steel building is. Due to technology, aesthetics are no longer a problem because modern metal and material fabrication can create almost any aesthetic that is desired from tile roofs to traditional wood facades.
The cost to build a residential steel building is approximately $20.00 - $40.00 per square foot. The region you are building in, the current price of steel and the knowledge and experience of your contractor are huge contributors to consider when determining the cost of construction. Keep in mind that every builder of steel buildings has different costs associated with the construction of these steel homes. This is another reason why you need to do your research before choosing a builder to construct your dream home.
Although steel framing can initially be more expensive than wood, the overall benefits of steel frame building can far outweigh that difference in cost in time.
The difference in cost between wood framing and steel framing can be small if you’re building a smaller house, 1500 square feet or less. Obviously, the larger the home, the more the difference in cost will be.
Another factor to consider when building a steel frame residential home is the foundation. The foundation can be concrete, or floor joists and anchors can be used. If you initially decide not to build a steel garage building as part of your home, it can always be added later. It is more efficient to build it though, at the same time the house is being built.
When you’re planning the dimensions of your steel home be sure to also plan for the insulation as it can sometimes get up to one foot thick, depending on what you want.
There are different types of steel frame buildings to consider. There are modular homes, green building, green architecture, sustainable construction, steel house kits, and DIY Steel house kits.
Advantages of Steel Residential Homes
Steel has several advantages over other traditional building materials, such as wood:
Disadvantages of Steel Residential Homes
Types of Steel Buildings
Common types of steel buildings are straight-walled and arch.
The shape of the building on the outside can be the straight-walled or arch type.
Steel arch buildings may be more cost effective for certain applications. Straight-walled buildings will provide more usable space compared to arch buildings.
Clear span is the internal construction.
Building frames that are assembled at a shop before shipment to the home site are commonly referred to as prefabricated. Smaller steel buildings can be assembled at the shop, or they are simple enough to be constructed on site by anyone. Prefabrication is less costly and is better for the environment compared to traditional methods. If you want a larger steel building, it will require more skilled construction workers, to ensure that it is assembled properly.
Things to Consider
Cost and Speed of Construction:
Steel material may not be low in price at the time you want to build so it may significantly increase the overall cost of construction. There is no wastage when steel is pre-fabricated, and it also requires fewer laborers, so the cost decreases. The construction process and also the maintenance of a residential steel home is easy.
Building steel buildings is also quicker than other traditional materials. Because the steel is prefabricated, the holes are pre-punched, and anchor-bolts are in place. Assembly drawings and step by step erection guides make it easier for you to understand.
Steel doesn’t weigh as much as wood, which makes it easier to transport to the site, then carry to the specific area. Steel holds up very well with hurricanes, earthquakes, and strong winds, because of its flexible properties. Because steel won’t buckle, warp or divide, it is very durable and will provide more value for your money.
Steel is considered one of the strongest materials that are on the market. Because it is thinner than wood, steel can support thicker layers of insulation without affecting its overall structure. Thicker insulation helps you maintain ideal temperatures whether you’re in a hot or cold climate, which can cut costs on your energy bills.
There are several ways you can purchase a steel building. You will purchase them from a general contractor or broker, or you can also purchase directly from the building manufacturer. Additionally, you also have the choice to purchase a DIY kit.
Most manufacturers who build residential steel homes have in-house financing or know who to direct you to.
General Contractors – The most popular way to purchase steel for the building of your home is through a general contractor. If you decide to go this route, a general contractor will be responsible for the complete process that is involved in the construction of a steel residential building.
Contractors usually have a broker or a steel manufacturer who provides them with the materials that will be needed to construct a home. If you decide to use a contractor, he will most likely bill you for the entire cost.
Steel Building Brokers - Steel building brokers act as middlemen between the consumer, steel manufacturing company, and general contractor. A broker will be responsible for receiving bids or proposals from several different manufacturers according to the choices the consumer makes and their preferences. The broker will also be responsible for the delivery of all of the materials. The broker will arrange for a general contractor to be responsible for the foundation, assembly of the home, and insulation.
Manufacturers of Steel Buildings – Companies sell steel wholesale, but there are several that will also sell retail directly to the customer. If you can find a manufacturer that will sell retail, you can eliminate the middleman and the costs that would be associated with that.
The only drawback to purchasing the steel you need directly from the manufacturer is that you will need to do the job that the middleman would normally do. You would need to coordinate the assembly and foundation process on your own. The company only ships prefabricated steel components to your location, and they will do nothing else.
Construction Timeline - The building process should proceed smoothly. In some instances, you may be able to obtain a map in excel form from the builder. This map would help you keep track of the project schedule. You would know how long each step would take to complete. There are also software guides that are available that will let you know about potential delays in the construction of your house.
Steel buildings have become increasingly popular among residential communities because they are quick to install, and they are very easy to maintain. They also provide a durable and cost-effective option. As a purchaser, there are several things you must consider, however. What is the local climate like? What will the environmental impact be if you choose to build? Are there any rules or regulations you need to be aware of in this area before you proceed with construction? Finally, what are the overall costs involved and how can those costs translate into the building I want but at the price point I need?
The following are just a few trends worth considering as you proceed:
Building Green – In the last decade green buildings have been built that are energy efficient, weatherproof, and reduce waste. It is the practice of increasing the efficiency of buildings when using energy, water, and materials.
It also reduces the impact on human health and the environment for the entire time that the building is standing.
Building green residential homes have many benefits for the consumer and the environment. It helps with climate change, creates sustainable communities, and it will also help the economy grow. Green building is becoming more interesting to consumers because of these benefits.
Green architecture is considered a sustainable method of green building. With green architecture, the environment is in the forefront. It creates an energy efficient, environmentally friendly building.
Weatherproofing - Steel buildings can typically withstand high winds of 160-170 mph, but it also depends on the quality of the foundation and the roofing. If you live in a cold climate, your roof should be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of snow. If you pitch the roof high enough, you can avoid problems with accumulated snow.
If you live in high humidity, heat, and rainfall, you will need some type of protective coating. You would also need insulation that is resistant to moisture, and that also has vapor lock properties. If your area also has the potential for high winds, your doors and windows need to be stronger than they would need to be in a calmer environment. You should check with your county for the building codes/building requirements in your area.
Energy Efficiency - Steel buildings have to follow energy codes which makes them more energy efficient. When you are ready to purchase your home appliances, check for the higher efficient heating, cooling equipment, windows, and other items. If you work with the designer, you can help to choose the appliances and equipment that will give you more efficiency, so the costs will stay down.
No matter what design you choose, it’s important to be aware of the above trends before you finalize your purchase.
When you are making your purchasing decision, you will need to become familiar with the different types of buildings that are offered. There are three main types of steel buildings: The Straight Wall, the Pole Barn, and the Quonset Hut.
Straight Wall – This type of wall is straight that has an interior space that is clear. The roofing on this type of structure can be a lean-to style, straight column, gable style beam and column, or single slope. With this type of structure you will not need any poles or columns.
Pole Barn - A pole barn is a building structure that usually has wooden poles that are buried into the ground that are used as columns for the roof. Wooden pole barns are cheaper but they require more of your time and more investment for maintenance, repairs, and for any other expansion. Using steel materials for a pole barn structure has a greater advantage over other material types.
A steel pole barn structure uses a concrete foundation to anchor its steel columns. The advantages of steel pole barns are plentiful as they are considered more durable, weather-resistant and mold-resistant than other materials. Steel frame barns are suitable for livestock and also for storage purposes. They are cheaper and can be built quickly, but they are also more susceptible to strong winds when compared to the other types of steel buildings.
Quonset Hut - A Quonset hut is a building that is curved or arched shaped and it is a self-supporting structure. It doesn’t contain any supporting beams or interior posts. The Quonset hut can withstand hurricanes, winds, and earthquakes and is termed as the strongest structure of these three. It is also the least expensive of steel buildings.
The Quonset hut is one of the cheapest and strongest structures to build. Installation, assembly, erecting and dissembling tasks are for the most part, easy. You will not need to use heavy equipment such as a crane or other large equipment. If you live in a remote area this type would be the best choice for you.
This model is best for open-end structures and for storing crops and grains. A drawback for this type of structure is that the insulation may become expensive. Another drawback if you decide you want to install side doors, you will need to have someone who is experienced in working with the curved design.
There are two types for the interior: Clear Span and Columns.
Columns Compared to Clear Span – If you are going to need large usable space, then clear span will work better for you. You will have more space to use because there won’t be any internal support. This structure is mostly used for warehouses and factories where forklift trucks and heavy machinery are used.
If you structure doesn't require large usable space, columns are the better choice for you. Because columns are supporting the structure, the construction costs for the building will be less than the clear span structures. Assembling the components and erecting the structure is quick and easy. Column-supported structures are best for residential buildings, offices and retail stores.
Industry-Wide Preferences That You Should Be Aware Of
Apart from price, people in different industries select types of steel buildings that reflect their needs and purposes.
Before purchasing a steel building, you should spend some time analyzing what your requirements are for your home. This will help you choose the best building solutions. You need to consider whether you will want to add something in the future and you also need to consider your budget and all of the available options to make the most out of your purchase.
The following are the aspects you shouldn't ignore.
Size - The size of the building is the first thing you should consider. The size of the steel building depends on what you will be using the building for. To determine how large you want a home you will need to consider how many other people will be living in it with you.
The price of the building depends on size, style, components, and foundation.
This price is for the building shell. You should add 20% to this price for components like doors and windows. Additionally, you would need approximately 8-10% for delivery and labor expenses.
Situation of Home - Another important aspect before starting construction is how you will situate the home. You will need to consider the wind directions and how the sun rising will affect it. What kind of sun exposure do you want in certain rooms, etc.
In addition to the style cost, and size of the building, you need to check the level of the ground:
Prices for leveling the ground will vary according to your location and the size of the ground that needs to be prepared. Considering this expense to your budget is important.
Another element to consider is the natural drainage. Check out the drainage system in your area. You need to have access to other utilities like water, gas, and electricity. Before planning your building, consider which of these aspects you will need and determine the costs involved. You should always make room for expansion.
When you are planning the design, be sure that it is flexible enough to allow for future expansion. You will have a clearer picture of how much it is going to cost you if you consider all of these aspects.
Make sure you are purchasing the material from a legitimate and reputable manufacturer. If you buy cheaper material that is not of good quality, it will ultimately cost you more.
Lastly, steel prices will change. If you get a quote from a manufacturer, it should be valid for a certain period of time. Make sure this is stated in writing, so you won’t have any unwanted surprises with the cost. If you order the material before the construction season, you can lock the price. This will avoid any delay also.
Before talking to a steel building company about building components and kits, you must understand the technology and major components that are involved in the construction of steel buildings. Once aware and fully informed of these valuable details, you will be better prepared to work more closely with the designer and builder so that you can have a hand in choosing the right components and style for the steel building. Your knowledge will also help you get a better and more competitive price from the dealer.
An understanding of the components required for a steel building, installation procedure, and the technology required is vital. The following is a list of items involved in the construction of a steel building.
Kits – You need to purchase a steel kit if you want to construct your own steel building. Prefab kits are engineered steel structures that require only regular man power and basic tools for their construction. Steel building kits are cut into the desired frame and your job is to just put them together.
Steel building kits come in many sizes and styles. Some of the popular ones are the arch style and peaked roof. You can also customize these kits to your desired style. Prices for steel building kits can easily range from $5000 for a smaller garage kit to as much as $30,000 and beyond for a 40x60 building.
Approximate Prices for Steel Building Kits – A one car garage 12x12 – approximately $10,000.00; a two-car garage 24x24 – approximately $12,000.00; a garage big enough for an RV 40x20 – approximately $14,000.00; a storage building 30x24 – approximately $13,500.00
Insulation - Even though steel buildings are durable, you will still need to have sufficient insulation. Not only will it make it more energy efficient, but it also helps you to control outside conduction of temperature. In some areas, you may also be eligible for tax benefits and/or credits.
The Different Types of Insulation Include:
Loose-Fill Insulation – This type of insulation is loose, and it is blown into all the empty spaces in the building. Special equipment is needed to accomplish this. This method is more expensive, but it will effectively reduce air leakage and will also act as an effective sound barrier.
Batt and Blanket Insulation - This insulation is the least expensive and it is used for walls, ceiling, and floors. You can purchase this type of insulation as precut panels. They usually come in four to eight-foot sections. Blanket insulation is similar to batt but comes as a roll that is cut to the desired length.
Spray Foam Insulation - This insulation is better if you have any type of shaped structure. This type is sprayed on the floors, walls, and ceiling and it comes in liquid form. Once it is applied, it will expand and turn into solid cellular plastic. This method is more expensive than batt insulation.
Right Board Insulation - Right board insulation uses fiberglass, polyurethane, or polystyrene. These materials are cut to the thickness that the consumer wants. Right board insulation is usually used for flat roofs.
Steel building involves various components. Some of the common steel building accessories are listed here:
Windows - Windows are needed for proper ventilation and light. They are self-framed, so they can be placed anywhere in the building. You can choose from insulated or uninsulated models.
Doors - For steel buildings, doors come in a wide range of models. For framed openings, slide doors can be an economical choice. Self-framed walk-doors can be installed anywhere in the building. If you prefer to have more light inside the house, choose a half-glass door.
Ventilation - To keep the air fresh in the home you will need proper ventilation devices installed. The different types of ventilation devices include Wall Louver, Gravity Vent, Ridge Vent and Turbine Vent. For better ventilation, choose more than one ventilation device so the air can move between them.
Skylights - Skylights or roof lights will give you more light if that’s what you prefer. Skylights are usually installed on either side of the roof peak.
End Wall - As steel frames are precut and prefabricated, they come with easily installed end walls. You can add certain features like heavy-duty curved angles, weatherstrip inserts or customize your own end wall panels.
Columns - Columns separate the space into different sections. When you are building a home, you will need columns to break the large space into different rooms. For clear span styles, you won’t need columns, but you should install more beams that will be strong enough to support the roof. For multi-span buildings, you will need columns. They are installed as end walls as well.
Trim and Gutters - You will need to install trim on the house and gutters to maintain the look of the outside. The gutters will help prevent the water from rain pooling in your yard and keep the sides of your home nice looking.
Rafters - A rafter is a supporting beam for the roof. From the gutter to the apex, it follows the roof. When installing the roof, rafters are important because they support the roof. However, it depends on the style of the building you choose.
Examples of Questions to Ask a Dealer or Local Authorities:
The dealer needs to ensure that the construction of your home adheres to your state’s building regulations. Some areas such as the coast have more stringent building codes due to hurricanes.
Who is responsible for obtaining a building permit? Be sure the dealer will be handling this. The details will need to be provided such as height and size of the home. You will also need a letter of structural assurance and the building schedules. The details for the foundation must also be included. You should also get insurance and warranty on the material and home.
You can also ask if they have a building checklist that you can use to keep a record of what is happening at any given time and what they have finished. If they can’t supply one, you can create your own and customize it to your own specifications.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure of any step in the construction process. Open communication with the company and personnel building your home is very important and will give you peace of mind.
Deciding to build a steel residential building instead of a traditional wood or brick home is a sound decision. Not only can you design it just like any other type of home, but you will also have a more efficient home.
You will leave a smaller footprint on the earth, and you can relax knowing that your house can withstand the elements and maybe last forever.
Start doing your research so you will be better informed when it comes to major decisions concerning your steel home. The internet is a great tool to use to educate yourself on all the ways you can build a steel residential building and even how to decorate it. You can research other steel buildings if you decide you need a shed or additional garage, etc. It’s always a good idea to research more than one company so you can compare what each offers you. There is quite a variety of floor plans available for your perusal on the internet. There is sure to be one that you will fall in love with.
Decorating the inside of your steel home is the same as any other type of home. Keep in mind that there will be metal studs in the interior walls, so you will need to be creative when hanging pictures.
Have fun with it and enjoy your home knowing that you are helping to make a positive impact on the environment.