The short answer to this question is yes – relative to concrete base foundations. The production of steel still produces Co2 emissions which are harmful to the ozone layer and contribute to climate change. On paper it may look like steel is worse as its production releases 1.85 tonnes of Co2 per tonne of steel produced, compared to 622kg of Co2 per tonne of cement. If we look more closely this is not a fair comparison. For an 8ftx8ft garden room that uses 12 ground screws, this equates to 48kg of steel and 88.8kg of Co2. A concrete base for a garden room the same size uses around 1800kg of cement, totalling 1120kg of Co2. These figures shine a light on the negative impact concrete foundations are having on the environment and the potential improvements that could be made globally by switching to ground screws wherever possible.
Carbon emissions are not the only factor to include in this debate. Concrete requires water which, on a global scale, amounted to an estimated 1.7% of total water withdrawal in 2012. This may not seem like much but the majority of this water is being taken from areas that are already water-stressed, increasing the likelihood of droughts. We must also consider what happens to concrete bases once they have fulfilled their purpose or reached the end of their service life. Admittedly this is a long time but the problem doesn’t change, concrete will be filling up landfill sites for centuries to come. The only viable recycling option is to crush it up and use it as aggregate for construction. Alternatively, steel is the world’s most recycled construction material. Galvanised steel ground screws can first be reused and eventually recycled at the end of their service life.