Statement of Task
An ad hoc committee of the National Academies will conduct a study to explore the potential advantages of underground development in the urban environment, to identify the research needed to take advantage of these opportunities, and to develop an enhanced public and technical community understanding of the role of engineering of underground space in the sustainability of the urban built environment, specifically the minimization of consumption of nonrenewable energy resources, construction materials, and negative impact on the natural, built, and social environments. In particular the study will:
• Summarize current geological and geotechnical engineering knowledge about underground development in the urban environment and how utilization of underground could increase sustainability, including knowledge of geologic site characterization, construction and geotechnical monitoring techniques, energy requirements, use of excavated materials, and lifecycle costs and benefits of underground infrastructure development.
• Identify the research needed to capitalize on opportunities for enhancing sustainable urban development through underground engineering, in the following areas:
• Underground characterization, prediction of the geologic environment, and ground response critical for successful design and construction of underground projects and critical facilities to maximize sustainability and resiliency;
• Construction and monitoring methodologies and enhanced excavation
public- and private-sector audiences engaged in research, urban and facility planning and design, underground construction, and safety and security.
Based on discussions with study sponsors, this report focuses on contributions of engineered underground space to sustainable development and outlines needs in the research, educational, regulatory, and social environments that would maximize those contributions. The report provides a set of overarching observations, conclusions, potential actions, and research topics related to integrated and interdisciplinary infrastructure systems design and management; underground engineering education, training, research, and practice; approaches to management and technological development; infrastructure lifecycle assessment; underground space use acceptance and safety; and underground space as a resource. These conclusions address all aspects of the charge generally rather than specifically. Important research topics are highlighted with the conclusions, but more are found throughout the main body of the report.