Energy Efficiency - Steel vs Brick & Mortar Building

This question is NOT to do with the energy efficiency of operating a steel or brick and mortar building. I am interested in whether there is a difference in the carbon footprint of producing and erecting, say, a 5000 sq ft one-story building made of brick or steel? This would include the carbon footprint associated with steel extraction / rolling compared to brick baking / cement manufacturing etc…

My guess is that Steel would be better. There’s less construction material by volume and weight in a steel building. Steel is completely recyclable, the highest recycling ratio for any material I believe. Concrete production is very energy intensive, but then so is Steel… but remember what I said about less volume of material. The only drawback to steel is a loss of thermal mass and insulation value, but that can be designed around.

Search for air emissions test results (stack tests) for both steel manufacture plants and portland cement kilns/dryers for exact numbers. I know that CO, VOC, etc. emissions for rotary dryers and kilns are usually pretty negligible, though they may still be classified as ‘Title V’ permitted facilities because of the *potential * SO2 emissions of the fuel oil they use to run the kilns. That being said, I’ve never tested any steel facilties, and I further can’t comment on the potential emissions associated with extraction of the raw, and the distribution of the finished, materials involved. My tiny bit of expertise, though, would lead me to guess that from the ‘manufacture’ standpoint cement/brick is much less of an emitter. Hope that helps you at all - I’m woefully ignorant of how to assess an overall ‘carbon footprint’.