In the market we talk a lot about carbon savings in the superstructure but very little time is spent having a similar conversation with the substructure. It is industry standard to specify cement replacement materials to reduce the carbon footprint of concrete. At Symmetrys we go further by reducing the overall volume of cement on a project through providing alternative ground solutions, such as reusing existing foundations, implementing screw piles, carrying out additional soil investigations in order to prove that shallow foundations are a viable alternative to piles, and more recently, looking at plastic ground beams.
Can we re-use the foundations in the future?
What is the life circle of the foundations and all the elements in the ground?
The cement industry contributes 5% to global CO2 emissions, and then taking into account that the construction industry is responsible for 38% of CO2 emissions, you start to get a better understanding of what contribution we make to this when specifying the works in the ground.
This is all in addition to pushing the industry standards for reduced carbon concretes as standard in all our specifications. One other thing to discuss here is that ground granulated blast slag (GGBS) is a marvelous replacement for cement, however it is not an unlimited resource and we need to consider future alternatives for GGBS too.