Sustainability briefing notes

General sustainability issues

Sustainability is a very important part of the construction industry, and should be considered at all stages of a project cycle, from concept through to completion. With Tunnelling and Underground Construction projects, there are a number of key elements of a project that can be influenced from a sustainability perspective.

One of the main sustainability issues associated with tunnelling project is the handling and disposal of excavated material. Reuse of excavated materials for landscaping and other purposes rather than taking the excavated material to tip / land fill is an opportunity to improve on the sustainability of a project. Due to the volumes involved, handling and disposal of excavated materials can result in a significant number of vehicle movements, with many miles travelled transporting the excavated material to a suitable disposal site. Rather than relying on road transport, alternative means of transportation should be considered wherever possible, including river or rail transport. Also, using nearby disposal sites will help to minimise the distances travelled.

A similar approach applies to the delivery of materials to site, where using alternative methods of transport or sourcing local materials will help improve the sustainability aspect of any project. The choice of construction materials can also have a significant impact on sustainability. As well as using locally sourced products, allowing additional time and resource during the design stage will help to provide an efficient design and reduce the amount of materials consumed. Considering the carbon footprint of the materials used for construction will also help to improve on sustainability targets.

Overall, sustainability should not be seen as a matter increasing programme and cost of a project, but should be considered as best practice for now and for the future. Therefore, a detailed cost and programme analysis should be carried out during the planning, design and construction phases of a project in order to determine the best solution.