Soil Engineering Support Sustainability Related PhD. Research

Soil Engineering are to provide specialist support and data to a new sustainability related PhD. research project at the University of Leeds in what has potential to be a ground breaking effort to define the carbon impact of ground investigation on long term geotechnical projects.

The three-year study, hosted by the University’s School of Earth and Environment (SEE), builds on MSc research supported through the summer of 2023 by Soil Engineering. Drawing on productivity and carbon consumption data produced by Soil Engineering’s operations and procurement teams, MSc. Engineering Geology student Georgie-Lee Heeley (now of Jacobs) made initial inroads into the impact of carbon in ground investigation on later construction phase work. Georgie’s research indicated significant untapped potential for understanding in this field, leading her Supervisor, Dr. Mark Thomas, to develop the sustainability related PhD. Dr Thomas’s long-term links with Soil Engineering including annual visits to our laboratories, and research project support for MSc students made the partnership a natural choice.

Dr. Thomas and colleague Dr. Jonathan Busch, are promoting the project “Evaluating carbon emissions and carbon efficiency of ground investigation projects” from within SEE, but with the added benefit of Dr Busch’s links to The Institute for Resilient Infrastructure within the University’s School of Civil Engineering. Initially examining carbon reduction in ground investigation, the scope of the study is intended to approach the implications of ground investigation activities on the embodied carbon within construction, identifying efficient investment of unavoidable carbon for the overall betterment of projects. Source data will be supplied by Soil Engineering, who will also be providing access to projects to support the successful candidate’s understanding of ground investigation processes. Input on the application of ground investigation data to construction phases will come not only from Soil Engineering , but from across the Soletanche Bachy group in the UK, following support from sister company Roger Bullivant in the initial MSc research.

Data Collection

Data for the project will in part be derived from Soil Engineering’s point of work fuel use recording system, and has potential to tie in to rig telemetry as well as an internal initiative to improve granularity on water use and reuse statistics. These have ben key internal tools as part of our existing 40by30 carbon reduction pledge, and our overall intention to reduce the environmental impact of our activities through effective use and reuse of scarce resources.

Intended Outcomes

The project aims to deliver a deeper understanding not only of data capture processes in the ground investigation sector, but of the value of ground investigation in reducing embodied carbon in construction overall. By partnering with a public research project, Soil Engineering intend to share learning from the study across the sector, to the benefit of the wider ground investigation community. The opportunity to apply for the research post is open until 5th Jan 2024, with interviews in February and March. Further information on the process can be found here.

1:00 AM Jan 1st

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