Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Environmental Consequences of Excavation

Pete and I visited some job sites in Southern California last week. One site, a rather large home buing built to be a net energy producer, was an excellent example of how important integrated design is. Here, Peter talks with the builder and the structural engineer, Bruce King about how the team re-thought the foundation system.

One of the challenges in this part of the country is earthquakes, so most foundations need to be somewhat over-engineered. The original design was for a pier and grade beam system which required a huge amount of excavation. Bruce wondered if switching to a mat slab would be a better use of materials and on paper it seemed like it was. Once the team started moving dirt around, though, the builder asked some questions. Bruce sat back down at his desk with a fresh pencil and discovered the hidden environmental cost of trucking out dirt and trucking in gravel.

Editor's note: please excuse my cruddy video editing skills. I just wanted to slap this together for a free-lance writer to watch as background info for an article. The picture and sound quality are not what we will get once Rob gets back from Virginia and edits this thing for real.

--Dan Morrison is managing editor of

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