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  • Writer's pictureEric

GeoAmericas'24 Panel on Reducing Embodied Carbon with Geosynthetic Drains

Panel organized by the Technical Committee on Hydraulics of the IGS

  • Eric Blond, Eric Blond Consultant (Canada)

  • Stephan Fourmont, Afitex-Texel (Canada)

  • Patricia Guerra-Escobar, Geosynthetics Limited (United Kingdom)

  • John Kraus, IGS  (United Kingdom)

  • René Laprade, Solmax (Canada)

  • Pietro Rimoldi, Consultant (Italy)

(Slides presented by panelists are available at the bottom of this page)


The panel intends to discuss how geosynthetic drains can reduce the carbon emissions which are inherent to delivering the drainage function in a civil structure, therefore contributing to meeting the Paris Agreement goals.

As a reminder, the Paris Agreement ratified in 2015 aims at reducing carbon emissions by 43% in 2030, compared to the level of 2005. As of 2024, many industrial countries have achieved a reduction in the range of 5 to 15%, while others exhibit a more modest performance. Globally, the building and the construction industry are recognized for emitting about 40% of global carbon emissions, leaving an excellent opportunity for improvement.

On the other hand, several studies and case studies were published since the late 2000, demonstrating the overall advantage of geosynthetics compared to traditional solutions, with respect to carbon emissions. Carbon calculation tools are now available to help designers and regulators take carbon-sensitive decisions. In some segments of the building industry, the carbon footprint is part of the selection process. It is therefore fair to assume that infrastructures projects will also contain carbon-related requirements in a near future, likely before 2030.

With 6 years to go to reach the 2030 target date and ambitious infrastructure programs set in several countries, the geosynthetic industry must seize the ‘carbon opportunity’.

Outcome of the panel

The audience agrees that geosynthetics will typically deliver better performance, cost savings, reduce wearing of existing infrastructures and consumption of gravel.

Essentially everybody agrees on the tremendous savings offered by geosynthetics, with carbon savings ranging from 25 to 90% depending on projects.

Innovative policies favoring low carbon technologies have already appeared in the UK, good news for our industry!

Lots of discussions in the session were related to end of life management of geosynthetics in infrastructures, potential recycling or reuse opportunities of some products (including gravel).

One of our goals, as an industry, shoud be to lobby policymakers to include embodied carbon in the evaluation criteria for awarding projects.

In the meantime, the IGS is ready to support the industry generate carbon analysis thanks to the carbon calculator, which is available online at for IGS members. 

Slides presented by panelists are available here:

Download PDF • 6.57MB

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