Eco-friendly concrete piles

Development of an eco-friendly concrete for underground geotechnical applications.


  • Lead school School of Architecture, Wood and Civil Engineering
  • Institute Institute for Infrastructure and Environment IIU
  • Research unit Geotechnics and Special Civil Engineering group FGGS
  • Funding organisation Innosuisse
  • Duration (planned) 01.05.2023 - 30.04.2026
  • Project management Prof. Dr. Jean-Baptiste Payeur
  • Head of project Dr. Gabriel-Ionut Pascu
  • Project staff Christoph Hert
    Femi Reshiti
  • Partner Marti AG Bern
  • Keywords Geotechnics, underground construction, sustainability, low carbon concrete, decarbonisation of the construction industry


Piles, pile walls and diaphragm walls are foundation techniques and excavation shoring systems that make it possible to construct deep excavations and deep foundations without causing deformations to neighbouring structures. These techniques are widely used in Switzerland for the construction of new buildings and underground installations, or the strengthening of foundations in existing buildings. The strength and deformation requirements of these structures mean that they have to be very solid and are usually made of reinforced concrete that is poured into the drilled boreholes. In addition to sufficient long-term strength, this concrete must also have workability properties that are compatible with use in deep foundations, especially in a water-saturated environment. According to the current state of the art, concrete that fulfils these requirements generally has a very high carbon footprint and contributes significantly to the carbon footprint of the construction sector.

Course of action

In collaboration with Marti Group Bern, which is active in both special foundation engineering and concrete production, BFH’s Geotechnics research group is looking for optimised formulations for deep foundations concrete that have a better carbon footprint. The project is part of an Innosuisse research programme. By working on the various concrete components, durability and workability requirements that are specific to specialist civil engineering, the aim is to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the concrete mix, optimise construction processes and logistics, and thus improve the environmental performance.


The project began in June 2023. Its first steps consist in characterising the properties of the various components in the laboratory and analysing their life cycle.

Looking ahead

Moreover, the project’s aim is to propose a pioneering approach in the field of geotechnical engineering that contributes to the development of standards for the use of concrete in underground structures, and proposes a global approach to life cycle analysis that provides a comprehensive understanding of the construction of deep foundations and is integrated into the entire life cycle of buildings.

This project contributes to the following SDGs

  • 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure