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Coastal building technologies

At our Forums we often discuss building technologies and materials in the debate over the health of our global environment. Now important research is being carried out at Plymouth University in this area.

Academics say that future coastal defences, harbours and ports could enhance biodiversity within the marine environment through the use of cement substitutes. However, the materials used need to be selected carefully in order that native and non-native species are not adversely affected, according to their study,

Scientists from the University conducted a series of tests over a two-month period and said some of these alternative materials appeared to have a negative effect on colonising native species but had no effect on non-native species.

Lecturer in Environmental Science Dr Louise Firth, the study’s corresponding author, says:

“As cement production is so energetically costly to produce, the construction industry is now investigating cement replacements using waste materials. Our work has shown that native and non-native species have contrasting responses to different waste material cement replacements. This highlights that much more research is needed in this area to assess the full environmental impact of such practices before adopting cement replacements in the marine construction industry.”

This study is the latest in which academics from Plymouth have explored the impact of coastal infrastructure on the marine environment. The University is also one of the partners in the World Harbour Project, which is seeking to develop resilient urban ports and harbours globally.

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