Econiq™ - The World's First Net-Zero Steel at Scale

I want to share Nucor’s exciting announcement yesterday.

Econiq is the world’s first net-zero carbon steel at scale, introduced to offer steel consumers emissions-free steel products to help meet their sustainability goals. Econiq is not a single product, it’s a net-zero certification, which can be applied to any product from Nucor’s steel mills. Nucor achieves net-zero on Econiq products by eliminating all Scope 2 emissions (by using electricity from 100% renewable sources) and by offsetting all Scope 1 emissions (through the purchase of carbon offsets). More info is available at Econiq™ – the World’s First Net-Zero Carbon Steel at Scale

I would love to hear this community’s initial thoughts and feedback.

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@JHarlan - this is exciting news! Structural steel and rebar are often in our built projects’ “top 5” materials by carbon impact. Having an industry leader like Nucor onboard and buying into a net zero carbon economy is a huge step forward.

A few follow-up questions beyond the FAQ:

  • What kind of carbon offsets is Nucor purchasing to achieve Econiq certification? Are they third-party certified? What kinds of projects are these offsets funding?
  • My understanding is that Nucor procures renewable energy through VPPAs. Out of curiosity, would Nucor ever develop renewable energy sources on Nucor property to power steel mills directly?
  • What are the Scope 3 emissions associated with Nucor steel? Has there been an effort to quantify and offset them?

In any case, kudos on the program! We will certainly be seeking out Econiq in the future.

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@iancho - Great questions! Thank you for the follow up.

  • Nucor purchases offsets through established offset registration programs (e.g. Climate Action Reserve, Verified Carbon Standard). We are also continually exploring opportunities to generate our own offsets. All carbon offsets will be third-party certified. At this point, specific projects have not been determined.

  • To date, Nucor has on-site generation at a handful of divisions. On-site generation continues to be considered at locations where it makes sense for the company.

  • Nucor’s Scope 3 emissions are created primarily through the raw material required in our steelmaking operations. A comparison of Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions can be found on our 2020 Sustainability Report (Nucor Sustainability and Environmental Commitments). Although it is feasible to offset Scope 3 emissions, at this time Nucor has opted to use offsets for Scope 1 emissions, which can be tracked with a higher level of confidence. While these are not included in the Econiq certification, Nucor is constantly exploring initiatives to reduce Scope 3 emissions.

Feel free to reach out to jason.harlan@nucor.com if you would like to discuss further.

It’s great to see that Nucor are making steps in the the right direction but I’m a bit confused as to how you can call it Net-Zero steel when you ignore the scope 3 emissions? Don’t a huge amount of the emissions in steel come from the sourcing of raw material? Although a lot of the steel is recycled you still have around ~30% which is mined right?

I don’t mean to sound negative as I’m excited to see changes like this being made but I think it needs to be clear to all what Net-Zero means.

It is also hard to quantify this is in an LCA if the accreditation can be applied to any steel in your range. Have you considered how this would be best represented? I different kind of EPD?

Also presumably there is a cost premium for this? If so can you give a rough % increase?