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Sustainable steel makes new Buffalo Bills stadium greener

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Edwin J. Viera

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(New York News Connection) The new Buffalo Bills stadium may not be the best environmentally but it has some green qualities.

The steel for the stadium is being made locally and climate-consciously, using an electric-arc furnace. Studies show the process emits 75 percent less carbon than traditional steel manufacturing.

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Brian Raff, vice president of sustainability and government relations for the American Institute of Steel Construction, said there are outside benefits to using electric-arc furnace steel.

"The supply chain for EAF steel is just a circular economy," Raff pointed out. "Everything that is waste, considered waste at one point, gets put back into the supply stream, gets shredded, melted down, and then made into new steel over and over and over."

Some downsides to electric-arc furnace steel are higher impurities and inclusions, and uneven heat distribution.

Other environmental benefits of the new stadium include reduced water usage, better stormwater flow, and a modern electrical system. The stadium will have 14 percent fewer spectators, also reducing other environmental impacts. Highmark Stadium will be completed in 2026.

Beyond the environmental impacts, the new stadium's construction creates 10,000 union labor jobs for western New York, and 60 percent of the 25,000 tons of the steel used for the stadium will be developed in New York.

Raff emphasized making the steel locally will have an economic ripple effect.

"25,000 tons of steel means millions of man-hours, and so that means it's going to keep those fabrication companies moving," Raff explained. "Cash is coming in the door, which means they're able to pay their employees. All of that money will be saved and spent in the local economies."

The project also creates greater opportunities for minority, women and veteran-owned businesses. An important part of the labor agreement negotiations was having local workers involved in the new stadium's construction.