A Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment Framework for ... ?· A Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment…
Post on 04-Jun-2018
A Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment Framework for Geotechnical Engineering
ERC Team Members
Alissa Kendall, UC Davis
Other Research Staff
The goal of this project is to develop a life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA) framework for
geotechnical engineering and to apply this framework to CBBG projects to encourage
sustainability-oriented innovation in geotechnical solutions.
The project's role in support of the strategic plan
The LCSA framework is used to inform CBBG project selection and to guide innovation as
projects mature through each of the 3-planes (i.e., fundamental knowledge, enabling technologies,
and systems). The LCSA framework is also a mechanism for industry engagement through the
development of benchmark LCSAs, which include cost assessments. Industry partners also inform
assessment of feasibility and cost for proposed technologies (once research and development is
sufficiently mature) as part of the LCSA process.
Fundamental Research, Education, or Technology Advancement Barriers
Fundamental research questions that must be answered to develop a standardized LCSA approach
for evaluation of geotechnical systems include: 1) what is the appropriate scope and methods for
environmental life cycle assessment (ELCA) of geotechnical systems; and 2) what level of detail
and predictive capabilities are required for robust analysis outcomes at the research and
development stage of technology development. Barriers to advancing this research include: 1) the
maturity of CBBG projects, which affect the availability of data and information required for
LCSA of a given technology; 2) the development of a life cycle inventory database and modeling
approach to streamline assessment; and 3) collecting estimates of damage costs for pollutants to
provide a mechanism for including pollution damage costs (i.e., externalities) in life cycle cost
Any research aspect that involves foreign collaborations, especially indicating the length of
time US faculty or students spent abroad conducting their work, and vice versa, and the
value added of that work to the students/facultys work.
None to report.
Achievements in previous years
1) Development, piloting, and dissemination of LCSA Questionnaire for CBBG project proposals.
2) Development of two Example LCSA Questionnaires for instructive purposes. 3) Completion of a comprehensive literature review of LCSA in the geotechnical field (with
a focus on ELCA) to provide a critical review on the state of the practice, identify gaps,
and propose best practices for ELCA in the geotechnical engineering field. A manuscript
for peer review was submitted in 2016.
Achievements in past year 1) Revision and refinement of LCSA Questionnaire, which is now CBBG Annual Project
Evaluation Report 2: Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (Report 2). Development of a
standardized approach to rating and feedback of submitted Report 2s, entitled Summary
LCSA Evaluation Statement (referred to as Outcomes Memo in last years project report).
2) Completion of evaluation for all submitted Report 2s. This included two quantitative ELCAs for projects with enough data and information to support quantitative analysis
(MICP and root-inspired foundations), and qualitative evaluations of all other submitted
3) Acceptance and online publication of one peer-reviewed journal paper entitled Review of life-cycle-based environmental assessments of geotechnical systems
(http://dx.doi.org/10.1680/jensu.16.00073). This article critically reviews the body of
previous work on LCA applied to geotechnical systems through a parametric assessment,
summarizing the state-of-the-practice, identifying the sources of uncertainty and
variability that lead to divergent results and conclusions, and developing
recommendations for future LCAs of geotechnical systems. Table 1 below summarizes
our findings with respect to previous studies, and illustrates the limited number of
infrastructure types assessed and the relatively small number of peer-reviewed studies
that have been published:
Table 1. Summary of Identified Literature of LCA applied to Geotechnical Systems Study
1 Chau 2008 CP No RW UK Process-Based
2 Storesund 2008 CP No RW US EIO-LCA
3 Rafalko 2010 CP No MSE RW US Process-Based
4 Inui 2011 JA Yes RW UK Process-Based
5 Soga 2011 JA Yes RW UK Lit. Review
6 Lee 2015 CP No MSE RW -- Process-Based
7 Giri 2015 CP No RW US Process-Based
8 Damians 2016 JA Yes RW -- Process-Based
9 Phillips 2016 CP No RW US Process-Based
10 Misra 2010 MT Yes DF -- Process-Based
11 Giri 2014 CP Yes DF US Process-Based
12 Spaulding 2008 CP No GI US, AU Process-Based
13 Pinske 2011 MT Yes GI US Process-Based
14 Shillaber 2015b JA Yes GI US Hybrid LCA
15 Walker 2014 CP No Other UK, DE, DK Lit. Review
16 Chau 2012 JA Yes Other UK Process-Based
Note: CP = conference paper; JA = journal article; MT = Masters thesis; RW = retaining wall; MSE = mechanically
stabilized earth; DF = deep foundation; GI = ground improvement; UK = United Kingdom; US = United States; AU
= Australia; DE = Germany; DK = Denmark
Figure 1 describes the sources of variability and uncertainty in LCAs of geotechnical
systems. Though some of these sources are common in LCAs of many types of systems,
the site-specific nature of geotechnical solutions is a particular challenge for LCA.
Figure 1. Sources of Variability and Uncertainty in Geotechnical LCA
4) Acceptance and online publication of one conference paper entitled Life-Cycle Assessment of Ground Improvement Alternatives for the Treasure Island, California,
Redevelopment (https://doi.org/10.1061/9780784480434.037) and accompanying
presentation by Alena Raymond at the Geotechnical Frontiers 2017 conference in
Orlando, Florida. This study compared the environmental and economic impacts of five
ground improvement methods for the possible redevelopment of Treasure Island in San
Francisco, California. For each improvement method, the study used LCA to assess the
energy, global warming potential, acidification potential, smog formation potential,
project cost, and social cost of carbon. The scope of analysis is illustrated in Figure 2.
Figure 2. System Definition and Boundary of the Analysis
The study concluded that the most environmentally preferable combination of ground
improvement methods does not include deep soil mixing, as illustrated in the comparison
of scenarios in Table 2.
Table 2. Treasure Island Ground Improvement Scenario Analysis Ground Improvement
Deep Soil Mixing 10.4% -- -- -- 10.4%
Vibro Replacement -- 10.4% 10.4% 10.4% --
Vibro Compaction 9.1% -- 65.0% 9.1% 80.5%
Deep Dynamic Compaction 80.5% 80.5% -- 80.5% --
Earthquake Drains -- 9.1% 24.6% -- 9.1%
Primary Energy (GJ) 447427 158038 279035 122349 543447
GWP (tonnes CO2e) 83047 10834 24512 10067 96187
AP (tonnes SO2e) 200 1 61 36 210
Smog (tonnes O3e) 5308 40 1692 974 5606
SCC - 3% Avg ($) $3,737,099 $487,546 $1,103,023 $453,003 $4,328,401
5) Initiation of research for a second peer-reviewed journal article focusing on a critical review of environmental impact indicators for ELCA applied to geotechnical systems and
Summary of other relevant work being conducted within and outside of the ERC and how
this project is different
Related work outside of the ERC is being conducted at UC Davis and elsewhere to develop a
framework and guidelines for ELCA of related systems, such as pavements and complete streets.
However, the pavement ELCA guidelines do not include the full scope of the LCSA (only
environmental impacts, and not economic or social impacts), and cannot inform indicator
development for geotechnical systems based on our critical review of the literature and existing
guidelines. The work on complete streets includes environmental, economic and social
components of sustainability within an LCA framework, which is aligned with the goals of the
ERC LCSA process. However, the social and economic impacts of complete streets are not similar
to those of geotechnical systems. Exploring indicators of social and economic impact for any
infrastructure system could inform future indicator selection for geotechnical projects; however,
the overlap is likely to be minimal as many of the impacts related to, for example, road and street
infrastructure are the result of how the infrastructure is directly used by people, and most
geotechnical systems are not directly used in the same way.
Plans for the next year
The following developments are planned for next year:
1) LCSA Questionnaire (now Report 2) dissemination and creation of Summary LCSA Evaluation Statement for all CBBG projects.
2) Continue development of a streamlined quantitative ELCA model for proposed projects. 3) Collaborate with industry to develop benchmarks of impacts of conventional ground
improvement technologies for comparison with new biogeotechnologies (both for ELCA
4) Collect damage cost estimates for pollutants of interest. 5) Environmental sustainability indicator development (critical review of existing indicators
and proposal of new/appropriate indicators for geotechnical technologies/projects).
6) Manuscript development and submission for environmental sustainability indicators for geotechnical technologies/projects.
7) Continuing to develop MICP ELCA model and evaluation of waste product scenarios for treatment.
Expected milestones and deliverables for the project
By the end of year three we expect to have an additional manuscript submitted for peer review
addressing environmental sustainability indicators for geotechnical systems/projects. In addition,
we will further refine Report 2 and revise the Summary LCSA Evaluation Statements for all CBBG
projects. By the end of year five we expect to provide a database or tool for industry partners that
documents the costs and environmental impacts of a suite of geotechnical solutions (both CBBG
technologies and comparable alternatives that are commonly implemented).
Member company benefits
This project develops and implements a framework for evaluating the sustainability of existing
and new geotechnical solutions. This has the potential to integrate LCSA-thinking at the
innovation stage of research and development, where the greatest improvements may be identified.
Member companies may benefit in two ways: 1) by engaging with the LCSA team on feasibility
and cost assessment activities, member companies gain intimate knowledge of the innovative
solutions being explored by CBBG research; and 2) member companies will have access to the
resulting database of costs and environmental impacts associated with the many CBBG
technologies evaluated with LCSA.
If relevant, commercialization impacts or course implementation information
None to report.