Pipe Bursting In A Low Carbon World

In the past 10 years, the concept of climate change has become a big talking issue. There are two extreme camps that have become very polarized on either side taking the “pro or against” ideology. However like all issues, there is the silent majority still sitting in the middle.

But whatever your thoughts, the state and provincial governments in the United States and Canada are bringing in legislation that push lower carbon emissions in the next few years. There are agreements and initiatives that cover 39 U.S. states and all the Canadian provinces as well as six Mexican states that propose to contain and ultimately start to lower their carbon emissions, mostly before 2015.

The other potential benefit, to pipe bursting in particular, is the increase in flows we are seeing as a result of the increase of rainfall intensities resulting in a demand for larger pipes.

In 2006, California introduced the Global Warming Solutions Act AB32 and in 2008 the province of British Columbia introduced “The Climate Action Plan” and many other states and provinces in North America have introduced into law ways of reducing carbon emissions or paying penalties if you choose not to. Because trenchless technology, by its nature, causes much less ground to be excavated, we could see that there was a potential to offer a utility construction method that had a lower carbon footprint.

Advantage of trenchless
When one looks at the process of installing a utility, the biggest concern is the excavation and replacement of the overburden material above the pipe zone. The volume of the pipe is generally very small (often one percent of the overall excavation) so the question is how can we install that utility in some other way and avoid the excavation? By achieving this, major savings of energy can be made. It is on this concept we have developed the low carbon emission concept and the very strong relationship with all types of trenchless construction, a carbon calculator and a trenchless protocol.

In January 2012, California brought in a cap and trade system for the larger emitters of the state. Among those large emitters are 48 cities. Initial thoughts are that the carbon savings of trenchless programs could be offset against their other carbon emissions. As in British Columbia the whole program is still too fresh to be certain.

In British Columbia, a tax on carbon emissions was implemented in 2010. It is about 10 cents per gallon but the revenue from that tax is available to any local government that wants to make their “day-to-day operations” carbon neutral. The Provincial government itself was mandated to be carbon neutral by 2010 which it says it achieved, and the cities would be carbon neutral in their “day to day” operations starting in January 2012. It was in the legislation that they would have to buy carbon credits from the Pacific Carbon Trust, a semi-government body. That requirement is now relaxed but they are still trying to achieve neutrality by changing how they operate.

The guidelines for what is a day-to-day operation is defined in http://www.toolkit.bc.ca/carbon-neutral-government, a document produced by the BC government to assist cities in complying with this new and very innovative policy.

Construction (capitol works) are outside the requirements of carbon neutrality and the confines of the “day-to-day “work load. This means that any carbon reductions resulting from different ways of doing capitol works can be transferred into carbon offsets and used against the “day-to-day” operations.

It is now accepted that trenchless technology can reduce carbon emissions by up to 90 percent (NASTT-BC) or 79 percent E-Calc when compared with traditional open-cut operations and these reductions can then be transferred into credits or offsets and traded within a city. The problem is to measure these known savings in a way that complies with standards that will allow us to use the savings as offsets. PW Trenchless Construction Inc. has, with Habitat Carbon assets, developed a Trenchless Carbon protocol to define a way to transfer these known carbon reductions into useful credits/offsets.

A protocol is a legal document that provides the details on how to generate a carbon credit/offset. It is a document that is created by an expert like Habitat Carbon Assets and approved by an accredited approver (like KPMG) to guide a user in creating a carbon credit/offset. There are very strict rules on how one creates a carbon credit, like the rules from ISO 14064, or the rules put out by the Pacific Carbon Trust, a BC government body charged with collecting credits for BC government bodies.

Why so important?
We in the democratic world have to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. To do this we have to be able to sell the concept to the voting public and that means that the method we choose has to cost the same or less than existing methods and not alter how we live our lives.

With countries like China and India now demanding to be let into the first world, they see that the only way to get there is to emit carbon as we do. But if we, as the first world, develop ways for them (and ourselves) to develop methods of living (and installing utilities) with lower carbon emissions, it will be accepted.

Remember the main way that countries like China and India will advance to a first world country status is through the increase in life expectancy from the current 45 years to the 80 years-plus we enjoy in the U.S. and Canada. That increase is totally achieved through the provision of clean water and sewerage removal achieved as a result of the existence of good utilities.

Trenchless methods can offer the installation of these utilities while emitting much less carbon compared to traditional open-cut methods. That is a nice statement but how do we prove it and then measure it? The proving is something that is done through testing and observation

In BC, we have an opportunity to use these savings to advance the use of trenchless and using these carbon savings to create carbon credits for the cities developing them. To do this we need a protocol. This trenchless protocol is a document that follows ISO 14064 standards on how to create a carbon credit.

It should be noted that local governments will never be able to generate enough carbon reductions or offsets to be able to have credits for sale. It is much more likely that any credits generated from a trenchless program will be used to lower their carbon emissions from their day-to-day operations.

When the emissions of capitol works have to be neutral, then the use of trenchless will assist local governments in emitting much lower carbon emissions. This protocol is available at www.nasttghgcalculator.com and is complimentary to the public.

Welcome to this is very new and exciting area of advancing the trenchless technology industry.

IPBA (NASSCO), (410) 486-3500, www.nassco.org

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