Environmental assessment of earth retaining wall structures
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Life cycle assessment (LCA) is recognised as a powerful technique to determine the environmental impact component of sustainability assessments of structures in civil engineering projects at the time of design. This paper explains the principal parts and stages in an LCA methodology and demonstrates the approach using the examples of two conventional retaining wall types (gravity and cantilever type) and two mechanically stabilised earth (MSE) wall solutions using steel and polymeric soil reinforcement. The analyses include structures built to four different heights. The LCA methodology was able to quantitatively distinguish between the component environmental impacts of different wall solutions and thus provide a practical numerical score-based tool for designers to choose between candidate solutions. The MSE wall solutions resulted in lower environmental impacts than gravity and cantilever wall solutions as measured by global warming potential, cumulative energy demand, six major midpoint environmental indicator categories, three endpoint damage categories and in terms of overall endpoint scores. The target audiences for this paper are geotechnical and structural engineers engaged in the design of earth retaining wall structures but are less familiar with recent developments in LCA and how LCA can be linked to the design of these systems.
CitationDamians, I.P., Bathurst, R.J., Garcia, E., Josa, A., Lloret, A. Environmental assessment of earth retaining wall structures. "Environmental geotechnics", Desembre 2017, vol. 4, núm. 6, p. 415-431.