Looking at any construction project through a practical lens, there’s a pretty measurable environmental impact from maintaining a site’s existing concrete foundation when demolishing a previous building and transitioning to a new usage. Rather than removing the existing conditions entirely and constructing anew, maintaining can be a smarter alternative in pursuit of sustainability. Commercial contractors aimed at value engineering can offer this insight and stand out boldly.
Of course, a proper evaluation should be overseen to check out if this is feasible. It’s important to observe if there’s any moisture or water seeping through the concrete. A familiarity with the basics of a typical foundation design can help you understand what’s needed from a stem wall and footing perspective.
Once you know what to look for, checking for reinforcing steel is a key component of understanding the current setting. Scanning with ultrasonic testing tools to find metal footings can provide insight where older documents are flawed or unavailable—and ultimately allow for a thorough understanding of what’s going on. Gaining as many hard numbers and as much data as possible for the building department, engineers, and geotechs all will work in your favor.
In terms of energy consumption, I came across a blog that calculates the exact levels of resources that can be spared through advocating this approach. Through a sample project, the representation of this theory is played out and emphasized with some hard numbers. There were several areas that the example situation measured impact:
• Demolition of existing foundation and earthwork
• Soil trucking
• Concrete production, transportation, and pumping
• Manufacturing steel reinforcing and its transportation
Overall, this experiment showed that energy consumed to remove and replace the foundation is equal to two and a half years’ worth of electricity consumption in an average single-family home.
It’s also worth understanding that the energy savings is just one facet of this topic.
The Build LLC blog asserts that, “Down-and-dirty sustainability methods also limit waste, create less mess on site, keep clear of complicated permitting requirements and can speed up the construction schedule of a project. Most importantly to us: decisions like this reinforce sensible design. It values people’s time and honors the work that has already been completed in the built environment.”