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Sustainable Approaches in Geotechnical Engineering Assignment

Task 1 - A feasibility study (supported with experimental work) on the use of recycled materials for earthworks

This assignment is designed to provide the student with an opportunity to gain a deeper practical and academic knowledge of sustainable approaches in geotechnical engineering. 
On successful completion of the assignment, the student should be able to: 
•    Make an appropriate choice of soil testing and parameters to be used in sustainable geotechnical design for various ground conditions and loading scenarios.
•    Make an appropriate choice of analysis methods and apply them to the common application e.g. low-carbon geotechnical design.


General notes

•    In this coursework, you will carry out various tasks including a critical review, analysis and experimental work.
•    The experimental work is designed to give you hands-on experience of some of the lab-based activities carried out for real projects. 
Before each experiment, you will be provided with H&S Induction related to the tools, materials and method. You shall not attempt to use any kit without understanding the health and safety aspects, and if you are not sure about anything please ask the technical adviser or the tutor.

•    Although the laboratories will be conducted in groups with shared results, the interpretation, conclusions and write up shall be carried out individually. All materials from other sources must be correctly referenced using the Harvard referencing system. 
•    Presenting evidence of your wide coverage and deep understanding of all topics covered by this assignment is essential.


Task 1 – A feasibility study (supported with experimental work) on the use of recycled materials for earthworks (45%)    

•    A client is looking for the potential use of recycled rubber crumb (mixed with given sandy soil- dry) for various potential earthworks (e.g. embankment fill, landscaping, road base, …etc). You are required to investigate the feasibility of its possible use for any suitable earthwork and support your recommendations by research and practical work i.e. by conducting several geotechnical lab tests on the sandy soil without and with 5% of the recycled material (by mass).
•    During the practical sessions in the geotechnical workshop, you will have access to several common geotechnical tests including: triaxial test, direct shear box test, odometer test and proctor test. You will be using some of these tests to quantify the strength and compaction properties of the sandy soil with and without the recycled material.

•    Your tutor will provide you with a lab booklet to guide and organise your experimental work and measurements. Please note, the lab booklet is not your report and it is mainly for your own use during the practical sessions, so make sure you bring a copy with you to the lab sessions.
•    To report this task, you are expected to include the following sections:

Task 2 - Sustainable geotechnics and low-carbon geotechnical design - case study

1.    Introduction (10%)

Background and literature survey on the currently recycled materials used in the construction industry with a particular focus on geotechnical applications (e.g. earthworks). From the survey, identify three potential recycled materials (including the rubber crumb) and how these options have been investigated (i.e. using laboratory testing or other methods) and the main findings from these previous studies.

2.    Aim, objectives and method (10%)

Describe the aim, objectives and method to be adopted in your study including the details of testing to be carried out (i.e. the tests included in the lab booklet). To enhance this section, make sure to support your description of the method and tools with photos you take from your lab sessions. 

3.    Experimental results, analysis and discussion (20%)

Present your experimental results obtained from your lab work and any analysis conducted on the results. Discuss any pattern observed in the results and any limitations or errors. Broadly, search and discuss the factors that might influence the experimental results of soils mixed with rubber crumbs.

4.    Recommendation (5%)

Recommend the client on the possible use of the recycled material (rubber crumb) with the sandy soil highlighting any Health and safety, environmental or economic implication…etc.  


Task 2– Sustainable geotechnics and low-carbon geotechnical design – case study (45%)

•    Sustainable Geotechnics is considered a discipline in geotechnical/ ground engineering. This discipline has appeared in the construction industry in response to the emerging Low Carbon Economy concerning the global challenges of climate change, diminishing fossil fuel reserves, and environmental management. In the UK Low Carbon Economy is often considered in terms of ‘decarbonisation’ of buildings, transport, industry, and the power sector. This is to be addressed using a wide variety of sustainable approaches, which produce great challenges and opportunities to ground engineers. 
•    For this task, you will work on the following scenario: Imagine you are working in a housing development company that is looking for a more sustainable, low carbon foundation design solution for their next project, where the ground investigation details are provided in Appendix A. 

•    The current foundation system conventionally adopted by the company uses strip/ continuous foundation (as shown in Figure B1 in Appendix B). The strip foundation (Option 1) is a kind of shallow foundation continuously supporting (all-around) the modular home units. It is proposed to investigate further options including pad foundations and screw piles (Options 2 and 3). The proposed system would discontinuously support the modular unit (only at a number of loading points - say 6 points i.e. at the locations of the pad foundation/ screw piles). The proposed change is structurally justified on the basis that each modular home system comes with a ground floor ring-beam – so in principle, the structural loadings – could theoretically be transferred down from the beam to the ground through the 6 loading points i.e. at the pad foundation/screw piles.

•    You are required to investigate and compare between the three design options/ solutions (see Figure B1 in Appendix B) in terms of their sustainability:
Option 1: Strip/ continuous foundation (current conventional system) 
Option 2: Pad foundation 
Option 3: Screw piles (with 200mm thick pile cap)
•    Your report for this task is expected to show the following headings and structure.

a.    Climate Change, Sustainability and Carbon 
In this section, you are expected to provide background about Climate Change, Sustainability and Carbon in the construction industry based on the latest knowledge and regulations. You can split this section into smaller parts if required.

b.    Low Carbon project cycle and ground engineering 
Here, you discuss how ground engineering can contribute to the low Cabon project cycle – from the planning phase and design to construction giving examples from current practice on ‘sustainable’ solutions adopted in ground engineering.

2.    Case study on low-carbon geotechnical foundation (30%)
This is a major section to present your work on the three foundations design solutions. In your appraisal of each solution you should work out:
a.    Geotechnical design of the foundation: 
For each option, you need to design the foundation e.g. to find the appropriate size and depth required for the foundation to transfer the design load safely to the ground – without exceeding the allowable bearing capacity of the soil. Appendix B contains some important information and guidance on the foundation design for this project. 

b.    Quantities of materials and works: 
Based on the design conducted in part (a) above, determine the type and quantities of materials (e.g. concrete, soil excavation and transportation off-site,…etc) required for each design option. You'll need to consider the materials as well as activities associated with the construction work as both contribute to carbon emission. 

c.    Carbon calculation: 
Estimate the embedded CO2 in the work and materials identified above and then compare/ contrast between the three options. To complete this task, you are required to conduct your research independently. If you require other input parameters (that are not provided herein) you may assume them (based on similar work reported in the literature).
Further reading resources: 

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