International Collaboration Delivers Pioneering Geotechnical Carbon Calculator

Example sustainability report from EFFC and DFI's geotechnical carbon calculator tool

Foundation Industry Launches Standardized Open Source Tool to Compare the Sustainability of Different Foundation Techniques

Example sustainability report from EFFC and DFI's geotechnical carbon calculator toolHawthorne, NJ (May 1, 2013): The European Federation of Foundation Contractors (EFFC) and the Deep Foundations Institute (DFI) are urging the geotechnical sector to make immediate use of their jointly-developed, pioneering carbon calculator tool, the Geotechnical Carbon Calculator.

Developed using internationally recognized standards, the Geotechnical Carbon Calculator is believed to be one of the construction industry’s first standardized and collaboratively produced carbon calculator tools at the European and international level.

Carbon measurement is at the core of the construction industry’s approach to sustainability. The Geotechnical Carbon Calculator uses a standardized emission factors database to make the analysis of the carbon footprint of a foundation project consistent and comparable across the foundation industry.

It will allow foundation contractors to evaluate the carbon footprint of their designs, provide clients with verifiable and standardized data about the carbon footprint of their foundations and enable clients to compare the carbon footprint of one proposal against another.

Work on the calculator, which started in March 2012, has been led by a steering group formed from DFI and EFFC members, and chaired by Marine Lasne, sustainability director at Soletanche Freyssinet and chair of DFI’s Sustainability Committee. Technical development has been undertaken by carbon consulting firm Carbone 4.

The standardized carbon emissions database covers various foundation and ground engineering techniques, and currently includes bored piles, displacement piles, micropiles, diaphragm and slurry walls, sheet pile walls, grouting and soil mixing.

“The way the industry has collaborated through the EFFC and DFI to provide data and fund the project is a real achievement,” says Lasne. “Several European companies had already developed their own calculator and agreed to share their knowledge to reach the best possible common denominator for all. The calculator will have a significant impact on the ability to demonstrate and compare the sustainability of different foundation techniques”, she says, “but success will come from widespread use of the system and we must ensure that it becomes known and accepted by clients – so use and promotion of the calculator by everyone in the industry is vital.”

The calculator is free to download, but users are required to register to use the site at . The site includes full information on the principals and methodology used in the calculator; as well as a detailed user guide.

About the Deep Foundations Institute (DFI)

DFI ( is an international association of contractors, engineers, suppliers, academics and owners in the deep foundations industry. Our multi-disciplinary membership creates a consensus voice and a common vision for continual improvement in the planning, design and construction of deep foundations and excavations. We bring together members for networking, education, communication and collaboration. With our members, we promote the advancement of the deep foundations industry through technical committees, educational programs and conferences, publications, research, government relations and outreach. DFI has more than 3,300 members worldwide.



  1. Randy,

    I am an opponent to the path this and other “sustainability” measures that focus on “climate change” are taking our industry. I had a pleasant email exchange with DFI on this and I disagree with DFI spending the time and effort on this. I believe I am in the minority, but here goes anyway.

    By promoting such efforts as “carbon calculators”, we are tacitly admitting that “global warming” or “climate change” is predominately caused by man’s activities. If carbon dioxide is something that must be calculated to determine its impact on sustainability, inevitably it is something that will be determined to need regulation. (Hey, look – all of the engineers and contractors calculate how much carbon they create, so it must be bad). It is ludicrous to me to try to regulate something that is naturally occurring in the air and is a product of respiration of plants and animals. Besides, how far back in the supply change do we calculate? Who determines that? Won’t that affect the “impact” of a specific project? Suppose we start regulating CO2 emissions. As equipment ages, it will be less efficient in burning fuel. In order to win a big project, a contractor decides to buy new equipment to lower his score for the bid. Yet, he has contributed to “carbon emissions” by buying a new piece of equipment – the mining, manufacture, transport, etc. And the impact of all of the supporting industries to the manufacturer. It is not as simple and static analysis as anyone tries to make it out to be. Now, if we are concerned about air quality as far as particulates and hazardous substances, that is another story.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Robert. I would wager that you are not alone in your views on this issue. I don’t pretend to think that I would change your mind, however, I do disagree with you. Of course, I’m not an expert on climate change, global warming or anything along those lines. But what I keep hearing is that the supposed debate about whether climate change is human caused is no longer a debate in the scientific community…it’s only a debate in the socio-political arena. For what it’s worth, [url=]this science author and blogger[/url] performed a review of titles and abstracts of papers in peer-reviewed journals on the topic of global warming. According to him, only 23 out of 13,950 peer-reviewed papers reject human-caused global warming (

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