Sustainability Award

The category recognises innovative, unusual or cutting edge approach to environmental, economic or social sustainability on a geotechnical project, between January 2023 and January 2024.

This could be in the form of reuse of materials or existing structures/foundations, innovation in redeveloping brownfield sites, use of technology/design to reduce carbon emissions, lasting benefits created in the local community or by the legacy of the project, or any other initiative that drives sustainability across the wider project.

Former Petrol Station, Watford

With a focus on carbon reduction when planning implementation of a site demolition and subsequent intrusive site investigation of a former fuel filling station in London, Arcadis worked with their Client and supply chain in challenging the typical approaches to waste disposal, welfare provision and equipment use. A new soil waste disposal site was added to the Clients’ approved list, facilitating the majority of the soil waste transport via rail as opposed road. This alone resulted in an estimated >60% CO2 reduction. Lower carbon intensive welfare and equipment options were subsequently utilized during remediation investigation works, including adoption of innovative solar powered welfare & CCTV systems, electric off-road pallet movers and supply of Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil to fuel our drilling rigs. The sustainable solutions employed resulted in the successful reduction of an estimated >35T of net CO₂ emissions, serving as an example for what can be achieved in the industry.

Arup, SCS JV & University of Leeds
REAL - Re-purposed Excavated Arisings Loop; Calcined clay innovation

A pioneering approach revolutionizing the way excavated clay and soils from tunneling and other operations can be repurposed towards sustainable infrastructure development with maximised circularity. As part of the biggest infrastructure project in the UK (High Speed 2), enormous quantities of material are being excavated due to tunnelling and other operations, approximately 5,000,000 m3, its majority London Clay. Transportation of the excavated clay for off-site disposal leads to significant carbon dioxide emissions and costs. An innovative approach for high value repurposing of the excavated clay has been developed, where the excavated London Clay is treated and repurposed in concrete. It is estimated that the developed approach/technology reduces the carbon footprint for the concrete and associated disposal operations by up to 70%. The technology, which was developed as part of a multi-year interdisciplinary project, has already been transferred to other major infrastructure, tunneling and mining projects.


EKFB (Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction, and BAM Nuttall), working with their Designers ASC (Arcadis, Setec, Cowi) are delivering the 80km long Section C23 of HS2 between the Chiltern Tunnel and Long Itchington Wood. To tackle the difficulties imposed by the vast scale of this unique project, innovative solutions were incorporated into the designs and construction to maximise the reuse of materials and deliver innovative sustainable solutions within earthworks and asset design. The implementation of the reuse strategy, design optimisations, and earthworks treatment optimisations has meant that 720,000 tonnes of CO2 have been saved in 2023 alone (>3.7 million return flights from London to Edinburgh).

Bachy Soletanche & Balfour Beatty Ground Engineering JV
Hub and Cluster Permitted Bentonite Treatment Facility - to enable reuse of materials within project

SB3 JV recognised the need for a bentonite destruction plant to serve the Delta area. This need was based on a design change which included the use of bentonite slurry to assist with pile construction (due to unfavourable ground conditions). We knew it would not be feasible to install a bentonite destruction plant at every site in the Delta area, and the only alternative at the time was to remove waste bentonite to London. Motivated by the detrimental environmental impact and costs associated with disposal of the waste in London, a Hub & Cluster deployment application was submitted and approved by the Environment Agency in March 2023. Significant cost and carbon savings have been achieved in just 9 months of operation. Hub & Cluster status has since been applied to all our existing D Wall deployments, enabling waste bentonite from all piling works to be recycled throughout the project.

Burdens Technical Solutions
Saving Time, Cash & Carbon

With time, cash & carbon key deliverables Burdens assess on projects on a consistent basis, taking into account both on-site and off-site impacts where we can add value to our customers, this application epitomises our culture. We constantly promote the use of innovative and sustainable geosynthetics against traditional methods taking into account the environmental and ecological impact projects can exhibit on our natural landscapes. We help minimize your carbon footprint, maximize your efficiency, and improve the cost-effectiveness of your projects. Through promotion of this particular application at the GE Awards, it will enable the solution to become more widely used across the industry and become more commonly rolled out to other schemes / projects

Cognition Land and Water
Barking Power Limited Gas Pipeline Decommissioning

Cognition Land and Water and City of London Corporation completed the Barking Power Gas Pipeline Decommissioning project during 2023. The project decommissioned the Barking Power 24-inch diameter gas pipeline running from Horndon-on-the-Hill, Essex to Barking, London in compliance with requirements for abandonment under Pipeline Safety Regulations 1996. The former Barking Power station site, closed 2014, is being prepared as the new site of the combined London Markets (Spitalfields, Smithfield and Billingsgate). Cognition proposed a low carbon grout for the infill material, saving considerable embedded carbon against the works information by incorporating secondary byproducts. The alternative material also reduced carbon within the transportation of the material. Negotiations with 36 separate landowners and 3 local authorities were concluded by Cognition contributing to a completion on programme in 13 weeks. The Cognition methodology accommodated sensitive seasonal constraints and treated property and operations with care, creating strong trusting relationships with landowners.

Core Liner Recycling - Zero Plastic Initiative

Fugro uses Geo-data to help create a safe and liveable world. Geotechnical ground investigation is one way in which we contribute, but the extraction of core samples requires single-use PVC core liners to ensure sample integrity. We strive to maximise sustainability wherever possible, going above and beyond to achieve this. Going through an estimated four tonnes per year, Fugro have set an ambitious target to recycle 100% of our core liners despite PVC being a difficult and expensive material to recycle. We do so by sending them to Simplas PVC Recycling, who process the liners into regrind granulated material, ready to be extruded into new pipes or other PVC products. This means that Fugro are able to save almost 8100 kg CO2 from being emitted annually, contributing to reducing our company's carbon footprint and setting an example of good practice which can be replicated across the business and wider industry.

Cutting Carbon Through Technology

At GRAHAM, our environmental mission is ‘to help protect and improve the environment, conserve resources and tackle climate change for the benefit of current and future generations.’ This is fundamental to how we do business, and these principles are demonstrated throughout the development of M2 Junction 5 Project. During 2023, M2 J5 implemented a variety of sustainable practices to prevent and improve the environment, from implementing anti-idling policies, to utilising renewable energy to power remote compounds and making the transition to align with PAS 2080. The GRAHAM journey to Net Zero by 2030 is looking bright.

Land Transport Authority of Singapore
Pioneering Sustainable Construction: The Implementation of Hybrid Steel Fibre Reinforced Concrete (SFRC) in Underground Slab Structures

Our project pioneers the application of Steel Fibre Reinforced Concrete (SFRC) in thick underground external base slabs, a use previously unexplored. Our cost-benefit analysis reveals that such innovative use of hybrid SFRC in slab structure significantly contributes to two key pillars of sustainability – environmental and economic – by lessening the carbon footprint and reducing overall construction costs, making SFRC a sustainable and financially viable option. To improve understanding of the behaviour of steel fibres in a thick structural element before implementation in live projects, a unique research methodology of testing extracted samples from a 3m by 3m by 2m thick hybrid SFRC mock-up to simulate placement of steel fibre concrete was implemented. Going forward, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore will allow the use of hybrid SFRC in underground base slabs of upcoming projects such as the Cross Island Line, setting the stage for a more sustainable future.