• An adequate government, university, and industry commitment to develop the research capacity needed to keep the United States at the forefront of science and technology developments related to urban underground construction and space use (including the mechanical and electrical systems that are part of underground infrastructure);

• Sufficiently well-informed citizens and decision makers who appreciate the long-term implications of underground space use on the quality of life in urban areas; and

• Adequate institutional planning, policy, educational, and research structures that support cross-disciplinary and cross-sector initiatives to optimize sustainability and resilience through the use of underground facilities.

The preceding chapters describe realized and potential contributions of underground infrastructure and engineering to a sustainable urban society, and many areas of research and action items are identified throughout. The committee was not asked to prioritize these items because to do so would require an assessment of greater complexity than this committee could have achieved given the scale of its assignment. Instead, the committee identifies common themes related to changes in approaches to urban planning and underground engineering education, research, and practice necessary to promote urban sustainability. In this chapter, the committee presents a series of observations, conclusions, action items, and research necessary to support the most productive use of underground engineering for sustainable urban development. The conclusions are largely focused on the institutional frameworks that would support societal capacity, without which sustainability goals are less likely to be obtained.


Observation: There is little strategic coordination of underground infrastructure development in the United States.

Conclusion 1. Coordinated formal administrative support and management of underground infrastructure as part of an integrated, multi-dimensional, above- and belowground system of urban systems is vital to urban sustainability.

Potential actions:

a. Recognize responsibilities related to formal support for underground infrastructure as part of the total urban system through coordinated planning and operations, fostered technological development, and local and regional rule making.

b. Develop and encourage use of a system for consistent data collection,

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