Around 100 persons, 90 percent of which were from the United Kingdom, attended the Nov. 25 Sustainability in Foundations seminar – a joint venture between BRE and the Deep Foundations Institute’s Sustainability Committee.

Some of the issues covered:
  • Current BRE projects concerned with sustainability in foundations, the calculation of embodied energy and re-use of foundations and recycling materials.
  • The sustainability problems facing the foundations industry as the main generator of greenhouse gases is the production of cement. If the cement content of a foundation could be reduced a more sustainable system would result. The presentations showed that the opportunities for the greatest improvement in the sustainability of foundations came at the planning stage, with less improvement at the design stage, and the smallest effect at the construction stage.
  • How sustainability is linked to resilience, particularly in resisting the effect of nature, the client’s view of house foundations, and ground thermal storage solutions for a more sustainable ‘in use’ foundations.
  • The use of thermal piles and smart piles to better enable re-use in the future. Also included was a presentation on the sustainability of steel foundations, particularly when steel can be re-used many times.
The seminar was concluded by a short discussion session which centered on the relative sustainability of equivalent concrete and steel foundations. It is possible the discussion still would be ongoing had not the Seminar been formally closed.