A Strategy to Estimate & Optimise Carbon Footprint for Foundations
In response to the Paris Agreement with its Climate Action Plan 2030+, The Hong Kong government aims at 26% to 36% absolute carbon reduction by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. As the construction industry accounts for a significant amount of carbon emission, engineering practitioners have begun searching for ways to reduce the industry’s impacts through greener construction processes. Understanding and assessing the carbon footprint of the construction process enables benchmarking how “green” currently our works are. It provides insights on areas for improvement including reducing carbon emissions. While the methodology of carbon footprint assessment has been developed and adopted for superstructure, the same for underground elements such as foundations have yet been discussed and proposed. This is due to the great variety of substructure, the uniqueness of geological and geotechnical conditions in different regions, as well as the influence of local practices and regulations. The above makes the standardization and benchmarking of carbon emissions for substructure a challenge. In this paper, the authors attempt to develop a strategy for the assessment of embodied carbon on substructures in Hong Kong. Current obstacles and difficulties, as compared to those for other structures and structural elements are discussed. A strategy to look into the carbon footprint systematically and logically for foundations is then proposed and explained. The authors discuss possibilities to reduce and optimise carbon footprint of foundation works through careful decisions in early-stage planning, design, and construction control.
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