Dr Luke Deamer

Doctoral Practitioner, in collaboration with Keller Group plc
MESci (Hons) Geology

Academic and research departments

Centre for Environment and Sustainability.


My research project



Deamer, L., Lee, L., Mulheron, M., De Waele, J. (2021) Building Sustainability Impacts from the Bottom Up: Identifying Sustainability Impacts throughout a Geotechnical Company

Geotechnical contractors install and repair foundations for buildings and large infrastructure projects. Previously, geotechnical companies have typically focused on sustainability improvements on individual construction projects, with a primary focus on improving the environmental sustainability of site operations. However, the activities of geotechnical companies have sustainability impacts far beyond what they do on site. In the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), whole company sustainability must also address social and economic sustainability. This paper therefore explores all the processes carried out across a geotechnical company, from human resources through to site operations, assessing their impact against the SDGs using a pedigree matrix approach. Through this investigation, we see that geotechnical companies impact every SDG in some way. There is a strong focus on health and well-being (SDG 4) and economic sustainability (SDG 8) throughout a geotechnical company. Some functions, such as procurement, impact a broad range of SDGs, whilst others, such as HR, mostly only impact social or environmental sustainability. Overall, this approach highlights which processes in each function have the greatest impact on the overall sustainability of the company. It also reveals more sustainability impacts than previous top-down approaches. This means geotechnical contractors can better target sustainability improvements in specific parts of their business, making sustainability relevant to each department. It also aims to empower employees to improve the sustainability of their own day-to-day processes.

Deamer, L.R., Lee, J.J., De Waele, J.E., Mulheron, M.J., France, C.M. (2021) How Does the Current System of Pre-Qualification Influence Sustainable Outcomes for the Geotechnical Industry?

Pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQs) record many of the sustainability requests that geotechnical companies receive from their clients. Analysis of 150 PQQs and stakeholder interviews is used to establish where PQQs have the greatest/least influence, both in geotechnical companies and their projects. Consistent requests, like for environmental prosecutions or ISO 14001, together with those requests made in high-value bids, have forced geotechnical companies to meet minimum sustainability criteria. However, other PQQ requests have proven less successful; caught up in a devaluation cycle, both clients’ PQQs and geotechnical companies’ responses have resulted in little overall sustainability improvement. There is also a general absence of requests for social sustainability and sustainable innovation, along with a broader disconnect between project-specific PQQ priorities and the longer-term sustainability strategies of geotechnical companies. A short series of recommendations are therefore explored, aiming to improve PQQ influence on geotechnical company/project sustainability.

Deamer, L., Russell, E., Lee, J. (2020) Lost in translation: sustainability down the construction supply chain

This article considers pre-qualification question (PQQ) sustainability data captured down the supply chain, from clients down to raw material suppliers. We consider the types of sustainability information requested at each stage of the supply chain and ask whether they help meet the objective of building sustainable assets.

Deamer, L., Andren, J. (2020) European Federation of Foundation Contractors Sustainability Overview

An introduction to sustainability concepts, accreditations and legislation for foundation contractors

Deamer, L.R., Lee, J.J., De Waele, J.E., Mulheron, M.J. (2022) Applying the Carbon Hierarchy to Geotechnical Contractors

There is increasing demand for geotechnical contractors to commit to carbon reduction, net zero or science based targets. A lot of focus has therefore been placed on using low carbon materials and low emission rigs. However, whilst these are ways to help reduce carbon, there is a need to look beyond just substituting materials and fuels to meet net zero. Using the IEMA carbon hierarchy, there is a need to first look at eliminating and reducing emissions, before considering substitute materials. For example, in geotechnical designs, this may mean considering using ground improvement or reducing the number of piles, before considering using low carbon cements. Equally, for remaining emissions, this hierarchy means considering carbon negative products to offset emissions, such as ground source heat pumps. This hierarchy can also be applied throughout geotechnical contractor organisations. For example, considering video conferencing for meetings, before considering public transport or using an electric vehicle. This article explores the carbon hierarchy and how it can be applied to all areas of a geotechnical contractor’s business. Only through embedding this hierarchy across the business can geotechnical contractors achieve the step change required to meet net zero.

Harnan, C., Berry*, A., Bruni, L., Deamer*, L., Estie, J., Kreuziger, J., Lechard, J., Riggelink*, R., Ritzer van Dinther*, J., Rostert, A., Van den Broeck, R., Zohrer, A. (2022) EFFC Sustainability Guides for Foundation Contractors: Guide No. 1 Carbon Reduction

Sustainability can be divided into three key pillars, covering environmental, social and economic sustainability. Within these pillars, the EFFC Sustainability Working Group (EFFC SWG) aligns sustainability initiatives with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which every UN country has signed up to achieve by 2030. This means the Goals are global and holistic, covering all areas of sustainability. They are also used by a number of geotechnical and other construction companies to report on sustainability. This means the Goals become a common language to communicate sustainability.          

A lot of work is needed to achieve these SDGs. We need to adapt current standards, redesign construction projects and invest considerably in innovation if we are to meet these goals by 2030. Geotechnical companies can do many things, but they cannot do this alone. Therefore, legislators, construction clients, designers, main contractors, geotechnical companies and their supply chains all must play their fair part in achieving these SDGs.          

The EFFC SWG plans to publish sustainability guides for the most relevant SDGs. These guides are intended to support geotechnical companies, with practical suggestions for how they can play their part in enabling the SDGs. They are not minimum requirements or sector standards, but rather practical support guides, sharing good practice.          

Each guide uses a “what, why, how, measure” approach to sustainability:          

■ What - What is this specific Sustainable Development Goal? What impacts do geotechnical companies have on this goal?          

■ Why - Why does this area of sustainability matter to geotechnical companies? Why should geotechnical companies bother to improve this area of sustainability?          

■ How - How can geotechnical companies improve their impact, and have a positive impact, on this area of sustainability?          

■ Measure - What metrics should geotechnical companies use to measure their progress and set targets on this area of sustainability?          

This first guide focuses on carbon reduction, with Sustainable Development Goal 13 (Climate Action) and Sustainable Development Goal 7 (Renewable and Clean Energy).