“We would like to commend the Research Council of Norway and the Norwegian Building and Real Estate Association for recognising the need for the building and construction industry to adopt digital solutions and restructure in a more climate-friendly direction. The fact that NGI along with our nine Norwegian and international partners was accepted is good for Norway and the industry,” says Guro Grøneng, NGI’s director for Geotechnics and Environment.

Digital knowledge boost

Globally, the building and construction industry is responsible for around 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. The market for large infrastructure projects is growing, and is expected to accelerate further after the Covid 19 pandemic. The industry has a great potential to exploit the opportunities inherent in digitising and automating processes and using industry by-products.

“Here there is a great need for knowledge development that GOAL will contribute to. Along with industry partners and partners from international universities, we will develop new knowledge about sensors, geophysics, life cycle analyses and ground reinforcement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase sustainability,” Grøneng says.

Sensor technology to monitor stabilisation measures

Large public actors such as the Norwegian Public Roads Administration and Bane NOR aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their projects by 40 per cent before 2030, and Statsbygg aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions for its portfolio of building projects by 30 percent before 2018 and supply zero emission buildings by 2030. Ground reinforcement using lime/cement stabilisation in areas with poor ground conditions currently involves high costs and not least significant greenhouse gas emissions. One of the challenges with ground reinforcement is documenting the actual achieved strength in stabilised ground. It is time-consuming and costly to produce representative samples because the probing methods used have their limitations. To investigate whether stabilisation measures are satisfactory, today one has to drill and thus destroy some of the stabilised ground. GOAL will attempt to solve this challenge.

“We currently have no satisfactory method for documenting the actual achieved strength and homogeneity. In the project we will therefore test inexpensive sensor technology in order to measure how the ground behaves after stabilising measures,” Grøneng says.

In addition to looking at methods to monitor the ground, GOAL will also investigate what is possible to retrieve in terms of new knowledge by studying the huge amount of information that is logged during ground stabilisation measures. For example, are there relationships between the various parameters?

Sustainable materials and reuse

Ground reinforcement using lime/cement is common in many countries, including Scandinavia. However, lime and cement production are energy-intensive processes that result in significant CO2 emissions. The building and construction industry is therefore looking for alternative solutions.

“In GOAL we will investigate how we can use industry by-products, such as bioash, biocoal and industrial scrap steel, as stabilisation material. The goal is a green, circular economy where climate-friendly and cost-effective by-products from waste incineration, metallurgical industry and biocoal from organic waste can be used to stabilise the ground,” Grøneng says.

Four-year knowledge boost

GOAL will start up in November 2021 and lasts until 31 October 2025. The following partners are included in the project:

NGI, Keller Geoteknikk, NTNU, Lindum, Bergene Holm, Celsa Armeringsstål, Norske Skog Skogn and the international universities Berkeley University of California, University College Dublin and the Technical University of Denmark.

GOAL will finance one full-time postgraduate at NTNU. In addition, one PhD student from the University of California, Berkeley will contribute in the project. An important goal of GOAL is the exchange of knowledge, where PhD students can take part in exchange programmes at partners.

“GOAL will reach out to collaborate with ongoing research projects on soil stabilisation such as KlimaGrunn. It will further actively engage Norwegian stakeholders such as, for example, Statsbygg, SVV, Bane NOR, OBOS and a range of contractors to facilitate knowledge exchange throughout the project,"Grøneng says.