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Technical Paper: Examining the carbon footprint and reducing the environmental impact of slope engineering options

Nick O’Riordan, Duncan Nicholson, Lynsay Hughes and Alan Phear (Arup Group). This paper was first published in GE’s February 2011 issue.

Abstract

Considerable progress has been made in the assessment, management and maintenance of existing earthworks and in the selection of methods of construction of new earthworks. Techniques involving multi-criteria analysis, carbon-footprinting and life cycle assessment of competing schemes provide
transparent methodologies for use in environmental impact assessment.

This review paper provides examples of use of the various techniques, and in particular concentrates on areas of innovation including:

  • use of carbon calculators to choose between competing slope or earthwork stabilisation solutions
  • methods of ground treatment to minimise earthwork impact (eg insitu soil strengthening, soil nailing, or green walls)
  • combining performance-based design, under environmental load cases such as earthquake and flood, with carbon footprint and cost analyses.

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