Analysis of the Carbon Footprint of Coastal Protection Systems

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Carbon Footprinting is a method of determining the environmental impact of a product or service. It focuses only on pollutions to the air by greenhouse gasses. There is a strong focus on these gases caused by intergovernmental alliances that restrict the amount of emitted gas. These agreements have been made, as a result of the widely accepted idea that an increase of the emissions of the greenhouse gasses will have a negative effect on the global climate. The basis of the research is a case study situated in at the shore of Scheveningen, and concerns five different coastal protection systems to be analysed. To all of the designs an a mount of carbon dioxide per running meter will be attributed: A Carbon Footprint. The five designs concern a beach nourishment and a dike with an altering revetment of concrete columns, riprap, asphalt and elastocoast. The case study provides a broad view of some of the most common protections at the Dutch coast. The outcome makes a direct comparison between the systems, based on the same boundary conditions, possible. All activities that consume energy and that are contributing to the production of a final product, together form the emission of a product. An amount of energy is, dependent on the energy source responsible for a specific emission. Emissions linked to a certain energy source are therefore very influential in the ultimate emission of a whole product. Different databases however stick to different values for these specific emissions. The differences in specific emissions combined with a number of other factors cause a deviation in emissions of similar products. When the ‘Cradle-to-Grave’ principle is applied for the before mentioned five designs at Scheveningen the following ranking can be found: concrete columns, beach nourishment, riprap, asphaltic and lastly the elastocoast revetment. Because of the large range in emissions the only conclusion that can be drawn from the Carbon Footprints determined in this thesis is the ranking presented here. Because of the uncertainty in the applied emissions, established in this research, no absolute figures should be adapted from this work.