Embodied energy optimization of buttressed earth-retaining walls with hybrid simulated annealing

David Martínez-Muñoz, José V. Martí, José García, Víctor Yepes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The importance of construction in the consumption of natural resources is leading structural design professionals to create more efficient structure designs that reduce emissions as well as the energy consumed. This paper presents an automated process to obtain low embodied energy buttressed earth-retaining wall optimum designs. Two objective functions were considered to compare the difference between a cost optimization and an embodied energy optimization. To reach the best design for every optimization criterion, a tuning of the algorithm parameters was carried out. This study used a hybrid simulated optimization algorithm to obtain the values of the geometry, the concrete resistances, and the amounts of concrete and materials to obtain an optimum buttressed earth-retaining wall low embodied energy design. The relation between all the geometric variables and the wall height was obtained by adjusting the linear and parabolic functions. A relationship was found between the two optimization criteria, and it can be concluded that cost and energy optimization are linked. This allows us to state that a cost reduction of €1 has an associated energy consumption reduction of 4.54 kWh. To achieve a low embodied energy design, it is recommended to reduce the distance between buttresses with respect to economic optimization. This decrease allows a reduction in the reinforcing steel needed to resist stem bending. The difference between the results of the geometric variables of the foundation for the two-optimization objectives reveals hardly any variation between them. This work gives technicians some rules to get optimum cost and embodied energy design. Furthermore, it compares designs obtained through these two optimization objectives with traditional design recommendations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1800
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Feb 2021


  • Buttressed earth-retaining walls
  • Energy savings
  • Heuristic optimization
  • Sustainable construction


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