Stainless steel piping system aims to extend the life of residential high-rises

Nickel Magazine, March 2008 -- The Japanese Stainless Steel Association (JSSA) has entered into a 3-year program designed to expand the use of long-lasting nickel-containing stainless steel in residential high-rise piping systems throughout the country.




An ‘all-stainless-steel’ piping system aims to extend the life of residential high-rises
By T. Kohga


The advantage of the all-stainless-steel piping system, as it’s called, is that the plumbing systems in high-rise buildings will last longer and require fewer repairs, thanks to the durability and corrosion-resistance of stainless steel.

With Dr. Kyosuke Sakaue, Professor of Meiji University as a leader of the JSSA team, both the Nickel Institute and the Japan Valve Manufacturers’ Association are participants in the government-subsidized project, which focuses on water supply and drainage pipes, as well as fire-fighting equipment, in collective housing.

JSSA proposed this program in response to a report tabled in May 2007 by the Housing and Land Investigation Committee of the then-governing Liberal Democratic Party of Japan.

According to the report, titled 200-Year Housing Vision, the average apartment building in Japan lasts only 30 years, compared with 55 years for American homes and 77 for English ones. The short lifespan is an economic burden for residents as well as a hindrance to conservation efforts.

The report urges the housing industry to adopt, as its goal, an average lifespan for all residential housing (including high-rise buildings) of 200 years. Future high-rises will be characterized by energy conservation, harmony with the surrounding environment, earthquake resistance, and regular and easy maintenance.

Most Japanese housing is multi-unit, consisting of both shared and private spaces. The report suggests that piping systems in shared areas be considered part of the whole “skeleton” of the residential structure. This concept calls for the installation of durable, stainless steel valves, reducing the need for repairs and expanding the life of the entire piping system.

Another advantage to longer-lasting housing will be a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Dismantling and rebuilding structures call for the production and transportation of pipes, valves and other materials, which in turn causes carbon dioxide emissions. The shift toward durable piping, and away from continuous replacement, will inevitably create a reduction in those emissions, as well as in overall energy consumption.

These and other benefits show how the country’s 200-Year Housing project is in keeping with the JSSA’s goal of developing demand for stainless steel products while contributing to environmental sustainability.