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Sustainability in Geotechnical Engineering:

Current and future trends in Research, Education & Professional Practice

Malay Ghose Hajra, Ph.D., P.E. Assistant Professor Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering The University of New Orleans 2000 Lakeshore Drive New Orleans, Louisiana 70148 504-280-7062 (office) (email)

Louisiana Civil Engineering Conference and Show 2012 Pontchartrain Center Kenner, Louisiana September 20, 2012

Sustainability in Geotechnical Engineering:

Current and future trends in Research, Education & Professional Practice

Outline of todays discussion 1. Importance of Sustainable Development 2. Sustainability in Geotechnical Engineering Current Trends 3. Sustainability in Geotechnical Engineering Future opportunities 4. New Sustainability Rating System EnVision 5. Conclusions 6. Questions

2009 Report Card for Americas Infrastructure

The Facts

Leaking water pipes lose 7 billion gallons a day Billions of gallons of untreated wastewater are discharged each year from aging systems U.S. produces 254 million tons of solid waste a year

188 cities with brownfields sites awaiting cleanup/redevelopment


The Facts
More than 4 billion hours a year stuck in traffic; cost = $78 billion 1 in 4 bridges structurally deficient or functionally obsolete Electricity demand has grown by 25% since 1990

Interstate 35 Minneapolis, MN

Waterline break Bethesda, MD


Natural Disasters hurricane, tsunamis, earthquake etc.

2008 Living Planet Report

Engineering design and construction has been dominated by one-dimensional view of technological efficiency assuming that nature is an infinite supplier of resources, perpetually regenerative, with an indefinite capacity to absorb all waste

Opportunities for Civil engineers

A. Design for the future Interconnection of society, economics, technology, and environment came under scrutiny during energy crisis of 1970s The philosophy of one-dimensional view of technological efficiency needs to incorporate the effects on society and environment.

B. Better Management of our assets Prolonging asset life and aiding in rehabilitation, repair and replacement decisions through efficient and focused operations and maintenance Meeting consumer demands with a focus on system sustainability Budgeting focused on activities critical to sustained performance Meeting service expectations and regulatory requirements Reducing overall costs for both operations and capital expenditures

Sustainable Design and Development


Sustainability definition by Brutland Commission

Sustainable Development is defined as any development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (Brutland Commissions Report, 1987)


ASCE Definition of Sustainability

Sustainability is a set of environmental, economic and social conditions in which all of society has the capacity and opportunity to maintain and improve its quality of life indefinitely without degrading the quantity, quality or availability of natural resources and ecosystems.


Indicators of Sustainability
Traditional Indicators Sustainability Indicators Emphasis of Sustainability Indicators

Size of the economy as measured by GNP and GDP

Wages paid in the local economy that are spent in the local economy Dollars spent in the local economy which pay for local labor and local natural resources Percent of local economy based on renewable local resources

Local financial resilience

Tons of solid waste generated

Percent of products produced which are durable, repairable, or readily recyclable or compostable

Conservative and cyclical use of materials

12 Source: George F. Crozier (Dauphin Island Sea Lab) and Scott Douglass (U. of South Alabama)

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Sustainability and Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical Engineering is one of the most resource intensive disciplines within Civil Engineering Consume vast amount of resources Consumes vast amount of energy Changes landscape Interferes with many social, environmental, and economic issues

Challenges 1. 2. 3. Geotechnical profession is often dominated by financial motivations Inadequate knowledge of geotechnical processes on ecological balance of surrounding areas Absence of geotechnical sustainability reference framework

Opportunities 1. 2. Improving sustainability of geotechnical processes is important Geotechnical profession has huge potential to improve sustainability of civil engineering projects due to its early position in the construction process 13

Sustainability and Geotechnical Engineering Opportunities

Geotechnical sustainability means:



Robust design and construction that involves minimal financial burden and inconveniences to the society Minimal use of resources and energy in planning, design, construction and maintenance of geotechnical facilities Use of materials and methods that cause minimal negative impact on the ecology and environment Maximum reuse of existing geotechnical facilities/components to minimize waste
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Energy Geotechniques Material Reuse and Recycle Foundation Rehabilitation and Reuse Use of underground space Sustainable Ground Improvement Sustainability in Coastal Geotechniques

Energy Geotechnology
Current Challenges
Main sources of energy worldwide: Petroleum (34%), coal (26.5%), Natural gas (20.9%), Combustible renewables and waste (9.8%), nuclear power (5.9%), hydroelectric (2.2%), wind & solar (0.7%) [source: International Energy Agency, 2009] High increase in energy demand in the next 25 years (17% increase if consumption and population growth continue at current rates; 66% increase if consumption in underdeveloped world increases to levels required to attain proper quality of life) This situation will exacerbate current issues caused by the dependency on fossil fuels, its environmental consequences, and the international implications due to the mismatch between the geographic distributions of supply and demand of fossil fuels. A sustainable worldwide energy system will require proper long term national policies within a global approach, strategic pricing that takes into consideration production costs and life-cycle waste processing, reduced population growth rates, and efficiency and conservation with associated changes in cultural patterns.

Role of Geotechnical Engineers

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Geological investigation related to increased fossil fuel production Geotechnology in Oil Production Estimation of subsidence due to extraction of oil Theory of mixed fluid flow Estimation of Fines migration and clogging


Facts and trends

Geothermal Energy

Deep geothermal energy systems extract heat from hot rock formations (temperatures often exceed 3500C) to produce steam that can be used directly to provide heating or to generate electricity.

Except for the construction of the power plant itself, CO2 emission from geothermal power plants are virtually zero.
Extractable thermal energy in the USA alone is estimated to be about 200,000 EJ, which is over 1000 times the annual consumption of primary energy in the USA

Role of Geotechnical Engineers

1. Optimal design and sustainable operation of geothermal systems require: Knowledge of thermal properties of geomaterials Efficient subsurface characterization technology Assessment of ground water flow conditions Ability to analyze hydro-thermo-chemo-mechanical coupled processes to predict short and long term performance changes in the reservoir Geothermal pump systems thermal properties of soil and backfill material, groundwater regime information Advancement in concurrent drilling and trenching during site investigation would reduce cost and increase the competitiveness and long term savings of the systems Energy Piles cyclic heating and cooling of piles may affect skin resistance of the pile and potentially cause settlement. 16

Foundation rehabitation and reuse

Facts The cost of removal of an old deep foundation is estimated to be about 4 times that of constructing a new foundation Removal of old foundation disturbs the soil and adjacent structures Removal of old foundation causes voids

Role of Geotechnical Engineers Embodied energy consumed in reusing foundations is nearly half of that consumed in installing new foundations (Butcher et al, 2006) Foundations designed for reuse has much less Whole Life Cost (WLC) than foundations designed without the reuse option


Use of Underground Space for Energy Storage

Facts Solar, tidal, and wind energy are inherently intermittent with continual fluctuations in electricity production. Therefore, large scale energy storage systems are needed to efficiently use generated renewable energy. Salt caverns formed by solution mining, underground rock caverns created by excavating rock formations such as abandoned limestone or coal mines, and porous rock formations can be used for compressed air storage.

Role of Geotechnical Engineers 1. Response of the host rock to large amplitude cycles in pore fluid pressure (e.g. stiffness, strength, strains) 2. Thermal fluctuations associated to gas compression and decompression 3. Moisture changes and mineral solubility 4. Evolution and long term performance of the underground cavern


Radioactive Waste Storage

Nuclear power generation embodies very low CO2 emission. Fewer than 500 nuclear plant have been built and operated around the world since 1951 An additional 2400 nuclear plant (1 GW plant capacity) will be required to produce the 2.4 TW increase predicted in the next 25 years There is no nuclear waste repository in operation in the world and the waste fuel is kept in pools. The building of new nuclear power plants and use of existing nuclear reactors will demand development of long-term radioactive waste repositories

Role of Geotechnical Engineers

1. Knowledge during mining operations (excavation and handling of tailings) 2. Foundation of nuclear plants (static and seismic design, heat absorption for new generation systems, design for decommissioning) 3. Design of Spent Fuel pools and waste repositories (design for decommissioning, geophysical monitoring and leak detection, bio-remediation)


Carbon Storage in Geological Formations

Significant reduction in CO2 emissions can be realized by implementing Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). Long term geotechnical implications of CO2 geological storage are less explored Principal target formations for CO2 injection include: Deep saline aquifers Petroleum and gas reservoirs Low-grade and unminable coal seams Deep ocean sediments to form CO2 hydrate CH4 hydrate-bearing sediments to replace CH4 with CO2

Role of Geotechnical Engineers

1. Robust technology is available to inject CO2 into the ground. However, significant geotechnical uncertainties remain related to geological storage including: identification and characterization of suitable formations, continuity and long-term stability of sealing layers, long-term performance of grouts and well plugs, subsurface plume tracing and leak detection and monitoring, chemo-hydromechanical coupled processes in the reservoir 2. Geotechnical input is required related to the risk of CO2 leakage, seismic risk to nuclear power 20 plants, and the potential for induced seismicity in geothermal projects

Reuse of Waste Materials in Geotechnical Engineering

Facts 1. Waste solid waste, hazardous waste, radioactive waste, and medical waste 2. Geo-related materials such as mine waste, energy-related waste, and dredges sediments are the primary components in the solid waste stream in the United States 3. Mining The bulk of material excavated in mining operations is waste, requires large storage areas, leaches hazardous chemicals into groundwater 4. Coal combustion products Fly ash and bottom ash from coal combustion contribute approximately 91 million tons to US waste stream every year. 5. Dredging Generates 200 to 300 million tons of material each year in the US alone. Dredging takes place along rivers and ports; however, only 30% of dredged material is put to beneficial use. Current Trends 1. Beneficial use of coal and fly ash in geotechnical constructions 2. Use of pulverized asphalt pavement as base for new pavement 3. Shredded scrap tires as a light-weight fill material 4. Pulverizes fly ash to improve thermal properties of energy piles 5. Bioengineered slope 6. Recycled mixed glass and plastic for segmental retaining wall units Role of Geotechnical Engineers 1. Increasing the efficient use of natural resources, recycling, more use of virgin materials, and energy efficiency 2. Reducing volume extraction and waste 3. Engineering waste reuse for long term performance and chemical stability 4. Developing engineered waste containment facilities for increasingly unsuitable environments and 21 under increasingly demanding performance/monitoring requirements.

Effects of Climate Change on Geosystems

1. 2. 3. 4. Climate change has significant impact on the built environment Extreme weather conditions and associated geohazards Global warming magnification of issues associated with high urban temperatures Melting of permafrost and icecaps permafrost is the most vulnerable carbon pool of the earth, its melting will lead to the release of large amounts of biogenic methane 5. Sea level rise

Role of Geotechnical Engineers

1. Flooding and erosion control for coastal areas and along river margins 2. Engineering hydrogeology to prevent salt-water intrusion and the contamination of fresh water reservoirs 3. Instability of geosystems associated with the melting of the permafrost and snow caps 4. Knowledge of unsaturation and pore pressure generation during gas release 5. Building of more resilient infrastructure (levees, hurricane reduction systems) 6. Enhanced microbial activity in sediments 22 7. Evolution of physical properties of soils as a function of changing weather conditions

Geoenvironmental Engineering: Biological Processes

Facts 1. Biological activity started 2 billion years ago 2. Microorganisms change atmosphere from reducing to oxdizing and determine composition of most minerals that form todays soils and rocks

Role of Geotechnical Engineers 1. Use of low embodied energy bio-engineered soils in many geotechnical applications, such as liquefaction mitigation, structural support, and excavation retention 2. Significant reductions in energy and material use might result if, reinforced concrete foundations can be reduced in size by increasing the strength and stiffness of foundation soils by biological activity 3. Challenges minimum pore size to accommodate life, upscaling of laboratory techniques to field conditions, thermodynamic equilibrium and long-term durability of biological treatments


Ground Improvement in Geotechnical Engineering

Current Trends 1. Use of solar powered prefabricated vertical drains 2. Improvement of mechanical and hydraulic properties of soil using in-situ soil bacteria 3. Dynamic compaction versus excavation and fill 4. Cement-bentonite vs. soil-bentonite ground improvement 5. Vibro-replacement stone columns vs. deep foundations

Role of Geotechnical Engineers 1. Evaluation of in-situ ground improvement techniques in lieu of deep foundations 2. Increasing the strength and stiffness of foundation soils by biological activity 3. Change in hydraulic properties of soil by bio-remediation of soil


Geotechnical Hazards due to Discontinuties

Facts 1. Discontinuities in geological formation act as weak zones, change the macroscale mechanical response, limit stability, and define the deformation field 2. Discontinuities affect fluid transport through sediments, give rise to fluid migration, determine geological storability of water, oil, gas, or CO2 3. However, engineered discontinuities can be used to enhance resource recovery (hydrocarbons and geothermal) and facilitate waste injection

Role of Geotechnical Engineers 1. Geological investigation related to presence of discontinuity 2. Estimation of subsidence due to discontinuity


Sustainable Geotechnical design against multiple Hazards

Facts New environmentally friendly materials, enhanced structural components developed to satisfy sustainability requirements, and unprecedented loading conditions that could result from climate change require re-evaluation of established performance-based design criteria for resilient, sustainable infrastructure.

Role of Geotechnical Engineers 1. Dynamic and long-term static soil-pile interaction effects for energy piles 2. Time varying soil properties over repeated cycles of ground temperature changes and implications on the response of the foundation to extreme loading 3. Dynamic soil-structure interaction effects for wind-turbine foundations subjected simultaneously to earthquake loading and dynamic cyclic loading from the superstructure 4. Assessment and re-use of existing foundation elements in view of multiple anticipated hazards 5. Assessment and retrofitting of waterfront protection systems against rising sea level and potential increase in the occurrence of tsunamis, hurricanes, and earthquakes

Sustainability and Coastal Geotechniques

Role of Geotechnical Engineers 1. Beneficial use of dredged sediments for marsh nourishment projects 2. Proper characterization of dredged sediments and foundation soils 3. Sea level rise rates and storm waves be considered in the planning and design of coastal highways and infrastructures

Education in Geo-sustainability
Energy geotechnology and sustainability invoke scientific principles and engineering concepts that will extend and profoundly change geotechnical engineering analysis and design These changes will require renewed engineering curriculum, adapted continuing education programs for practitioners, and increased public awareness and expectations for civil engineering infrastructure Modify geotechnical curriculum to cover the fundamental scientific principles involved in geomaterials subjected to hydro-chemo-thermo-bio-mechanical loading Include in the curriculum case-histories of sustainable design with proper Life Cycle Cost Analysis Training to provide the development of multiple alternative sustainable options as part of decision making and optimization Focus on implementation, accountability, and integration with other disciplines Encourage proactive involvement of professional societies such as ASCE in sustainability education.

New curriculum for Undergraduate/Graduate Geotechnical Engineering course: 1. Mechanical properties (allowable stress and deformation) 2. Hydraulic properties and fluid transport (hydraulic conductivity and pressure diffusion consolidation) 3. Biological processes in soil (bioremediation of contaminated site, biogenic methane production in sediments) 4. Chemical processes (mass balance, reaction kinetics, mineral dissolution, reactive transport) 5. Thermal characteristics (heat capacity, heat transformation, conduction, diffusion) 6. Electrical characteristics (resistivity, permitivity, geophysical site investigation) 28 7. Optimal use of natural resources ( recycled waste materials for construction)

Sustainability in Geotechnical Engineering:

Current and future trends in Research, Education & Professional Practice

Geotechnical Engineers play a vital role in mitigating global crisis related to sustainability, with a focus on energy, global climate change, use of natural resources, and solid waste generation/management. The geotechnical engineering profession needs to meet these challenges acting now in a coordinated and determined manner, from individual engineers to professional societies, fully aware of the significant role we can play in the development of a sustainable, energy viable society Scientific and engineering research should include non-standard issues such as the response of geomaterials to extreme conditions, coupled processes, biological phenomena, spatial variability, emergent phenomena and the role of discontinuities. The challenges facing geotechnical engineering in the future will require a much broader knowledge base than is currently included in educational programs. It must address the changing needs of a profession that will increasingly be engaged in sustainable design, energy geotechnology, enhanced/efficient use of natural resources, waste management, underground utilization, and alternative/renewable energy.

Institute of Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) is a non-profit education and research organization founded by ASCE, APWA, and ACEC
Envision, a sustainable infrastructure rating system, was developed by Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Institute of Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) Envision is a tool, which itself is part of a larger system, developed to help evaluate the sustainability of civil infrastructure. This system includes:

A self assessment checklist

The Envision Rating Tool A credential program for individuals A Project Evaluation and Verification Program

A Recognition Program for Sustainable Infrastructure



What Infrastructure Categories Does the Rating System Assess?



Levels of Achievement by Envision

Slightly above conventional

Performance is on the right track

Noteworthy, but falls slightly short of conserving

Essentially zero impact

Performance that restores natural or community systems


Credentials by Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI)

Sustainability Professional Provisional ENV (PV)

Envision Sustainable Rating System Verifiers


Sustainability in Geotechnical Engineering:

Current and future trends in Research, Education & Professional Practice

Summary: Sustainability is a multidimensional concept that requires a balance of Economic, Social, and Environmental equities of development

Geotechnical Engineering warrants a sustainability study as it uses vast amount of resources and releases pollutants to the environment
Balance can be achieved by ensuring efficiency in resource use and reducing the environmental impact without ignoring the technical, technological, and financial concerns related to the process Further research studies on sustainability-related issues in Geotechnical Engineering should be performed in the areas of: a. Application of alternative materials b. Material reuse and recycling c. Environment friendly ground modification techniques d. efficient use of underground space e. reuse of foundations f. energy geotechniques Further research should be performed to develop clearly defined framework (sustainability rating system for geotechnical engineering application) to evaluate and quantify the relative sustainability alternative practices in geotechnical engineering. Geotechnical Engineering curriculum must address sustainable design, energy geotechnology, enhanced use of natural resources, waste management, underground utilization and alternative/renewable energy. 35


American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) Richard J. Fragaszy (at NSF) Dipanjan Basu (Univ. of Connecticut) ASCE New Orleans branch Geotechnical committee Google images


Sustainability in Geotechnical Engineering:

Current and future trends in Research, Education & Professional Practice