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You're probably familiar with the "Three R's" of recycling - reduce, reuse, and recycle. We're not sure when or where the slogan came from, but it's been around as long as we can remember.
Usually, we apply the Three R's to common recyclables like aluminum cans, glass bottles, or paper products.
But what if we used the Three R's of recycling to compare the environmental impact of concrete foundations versus steel helical pile foundations?
There's no better time than now to consider the environmental impact of concrete foundations. Governments around the world are implementing ever-stricter environmental controls.
That means, for the industrial and commercial construction industries, minimizing the environmental impact of your project is unavoidable. But, minimizing that environmental footprint doesn't necessarily mean you have to start using electric excavators or switch to expensive "green building materials".
In fact, you might be able to dramatically reduce the carbon emissions associated with your construction project simply by switching to a helical pile foundation.
Keep reading to find out why.
Concrete, in one form or another, has been known to humans for thousands of years. While the Roman Empire made the building material famous, primitive forms existed as far back as 6500 B.C. according to author Richard W. Steiger.
Without concrete the modern world wouldn't exist. Buildings, houses, tunnels, bridges, highways, all the technologies we take for granted typically sit on the shoulders of concrete.
However, there's a environmental cost to concrete. It accounts for as much as 7% of global CO2 emissions, significantly more than the transportation sector contributes. According to the IEA, in order to produce 1t of concrete there are 0.6t-CO2 released into the atmosphere.
Considering a typical high-capacity poured foundation can contain well over 1000t of concrete, the carbon emissions of your foundation can be significant.
CO2 emissions from the production of concrete aren't the only environmental impact that you should be aware of, either.
Installing a concrete foundation usually involves extensive boreholing or excavation, depending on the design. This can create huge disruptions to the local environment, not to mention the mess of dealing with the spoils. When the concrete foundation has to be removed, even more extensive excavation will be required.
You probably already know what mobilization costs are and why they exist, but in the interest of completeness here's a quick definition:
"Mobilization costs" are the money it takes to actually get your foundation contractor's equipment, crew, and materials, to your job site and ready to work.
Left unchecked, these costs can kill your cash flow and can cause financial headaches later on.
The problem is that a per-pile cost does not accurately reflect what the final cost of the foundation might be for your project.
While a per-pile cost can tell you how much each pile costs, it doesn't tell you what it's going to take "all-in" to get those piles installed and ready for use.
In order to an accurate picture of the cost of a precast driven concrete pile foundation versus a helical pile foundation in Canada, you have to consider a sneaky cost that can catch you off-guard and kill your budget...
Mobilization costs for your foundation installation.
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