In 2000, the National Academy of Engineering published a list of the 20 engineering achievements in the 20th century that included electrification, the automobile, water supply and distribution, computers, telephone, air conditioning and refrigeration, highways, the Internet, petrochemical mechanization, laser and fiber optics, nuclear technologies, and high performance materials (NAE, 2000). Many of these achievements have been described as mainstays of contemporary urban life (Papay, 2002), and many of the essential services linked to them are delivered using the urban underground during some stage of production, storage, and distribution. Maintenance and improvement of those services, as well as of the quality of life in urban regions, depend on a steady stream of investment and technological innovation.
Human activity and population growth, however, are transforming the nation and planet. Long-term challenges for society include learning how humans can prosper without continued degradation of Earth (Kammen and Jacobson, 2006) and how to make suitable and sustainable adaptations. Improving or even sustaining current standards of living in the future will place more stress on earth systems, especially in urban environments where population increases are expected. Approximately 80 percent of people living in the United States live in urban areas (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011). Approximately 53 percent of the American population lives within 50 miles of a coast (Markham, 2008) at a time when global climate change is predicted to have significant coastal impacts including sea level rise, changes in weather patterns (e.g., IPCC, 2007), and degradation of drinking water supplies (IPCC, 2008). Meanwhile, some suggest short-term focus needs to be on design and adoption of community-based strategies to reduce
Intensive and well-coordinated use of underground space may be a key component of the sustainability solution. Engineers of underground space will have a vital role in planning, designing, constructing, operating, maintaining, and regulating underground space as well as in informing the social, economic, and even political decisions related to underground space and urban development. Increased interest in underground construction and development is evident throughout the world (Sterling and Godard, 2000). Underground engineering can provide a means to reduce energy use, increase green space preservation, sustainably process and store water and wastes, securely and efficiently site critical infrastructure, prevent and reverse degradation of the urban environment, and enhance quality of life. Many urban areas already enjoy the benefits of using underground space. The I-93 Central Artery and the I-90 extension in Boston (known collectively as the “Big Dig”), for example, although expensive, controversial, and not without problems, have improved peak period travel times through downtown Boston, saving an estimated $168 million in annual downtown travelers’ costs and time (Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, 2006), and have resulted in an enhanced downtown cityscape. Sweden’s experience with underground sewage treatment facilities since the 1940s (Isgård, 1975) and Norway’s expansive network of underground infrastructure, including electric power generation, water supply and wastewater treatment facilities, air traffic control, financial, archival, civil defense and national security facilities (Linger et al., 2002) demonstrate that underground facilities can be both cost-effective and dependable. Montreal began construction in 1962 of its Indoor City, an interconnected network of pedestrian walkways, retail centers, residential areas, and public transportation—about half of which is underground. As of 2006, the structure extended almost 20 miles in length and covered an area of more than 4.5 square miles in Montreal’s downtown core. The project has led to better access downtown, decreased walking distances, and made available additional available public space aboveground (El-Geneidy et al., 2011).
Urbanization is viewed by some as a primary cause of many of today’s societal problems, but it is also viewed as a means to sustainably provide for the populations projected for the 21st century, according to participants in a recent National Research Council (NRC) workshop on urban sustainability research (Shaffer and Vollmer, 2010). While urbanization may not be a root cause, certain problems may have been compounded by it. Participants of that workshop identified a variety of factors that intensify the impacts of urbanization (prodigious consumption of resources in concentrated areas, environmental decline, public health problems, and economic and social inequalities) and reflect the failure of society to recognize urban areas as systems.
Shifting our image of a city from a dense set of autonomous people, structures, and infrastructure facilities to a dynamic system of interdependent elements
is not a simple feat, but is essential to our capacity for resilience and ability to adapt to future challenges. An integrated three-dimensional approach to infrastructure design and management that considers and values space usage and human and social needs over time benefits all sectors of the community by protecting public health, reducing risks, maximizing reliability and long-term performance of urban infrastructure systems, and minimizing long-term costs.
The underground is a valuable resource. Urban planning too rarely takes a systematic account of the space both above and beneath Earth’s surface on a coordinated basis at any large scale, and rarely incorporates infrastructure lifecycle planning or long-term infrastructure sustainability when deciding a future course. Under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation, the NRC convened a new panel of experts to explore sustainable underground development in the urban environment, to identify research needed to make good use of the advantages, 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. The committee comprised researchers and practitioners with expertise in geotechnical engineering, underground construction, trenchless technologies, risk assessment, and visualization techniques for geotechnical applications. Additionally, the committee included expertise in sustainable infrastructure development, infrastructure policy and planning, and fire prevention, safety, and ventilation in the underground. The committee’s statement of task is provided in Box 1.1. Committee member biographies are included as Appendix A, and agendas from the committee’s open session meetings are included in Appendix B.
In general terms, urban infrastructure refers to all those physical and organizational structures that allow an urban system to function. Many types of infrastructure form the physical setting of the urban system (e.g., roads, utilities, buildings) and the governing, economic, and social frameworks that define a society. Underground infrastructure refers to any physical infrastructure that is placed beneath the surface and includes underground utilities (e.g., water, power, gas, communications, waste management), transportation (e.g., roads and highways, subways, freight and passenger rail) and their supporting facilities, building foundations, and any structure built in the underground to accommodate residential, industrial, manufacturing, recreational, or other purpose. Many types of infrastructure are further defined in Chapter 3. Given the broad nature of the committee charge and the many types of underground infrastructure, this report often generalizes underground infrastructure as a single category in many discussions, especially when referring to systems of infrastructure. It should be noted, however, that the benefits and challenges of individual types of underground infrastructure are not shared by all. Underground infrastructure is owned and operating by many different types of entities that serve many types
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
of stakeholders, each with potentially different and sometimes opposing needs, interests, governing structures, and resources.
Refining the definition of sustainability as it applies to underground development was the first task undertaken by the study committee. Earlier work illustrates the difficulty defining terms such as “sustainability” and even “urban” (e.g., Shaffer and Vollmer, 2010). The concept of “Sustainable Development” was described by the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987 as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (UN, 1987). Terms such as “resilience” are often related to sustainability (e.g., NRC, 2011). The present study committee considers the maintenance of quality of life as part of sustainability, and it recognizes that incorporating sustainability into societal management practice must occur at many scales—from the global and national down to the individual project scale. Defining sustainability as part of implementable urban systems at the local level becomes more difficult because the term becomes infused with
• Smart underground structures and conduits that report their status;
• Health and safety considerations, such as cost-effective ventilation, light, and concerns related to radon exposure or fire control;
• Lifecycle cost and benefit issues, including reduced energy needs for heating and cooling, reduced construction material use, use of excavated materials, increased longevity of underground structures and reduced maintenance associated with stable temperatures and isolation from surface weathering effects;
• The potential sustainability benefits of increased use of underground space for human transportation systems, including roadways and mass transit, and freight;
• The potential for integrating of energy, water, and waste systems for certain urban regions to improve sustainability; and
• How underground development might address concerns related to the impacts of climate change on the urban environment.
The committee will recommend directions for a new underground engineering research track focused on earth systems engineering and management to ensure future human resources for sustainable underground development, will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of establishing a new research center in this area, and consider other potential options for enhancing the human resource capacity for sustainable underground development (including the status quo). The committee also will consider from a social science point of view, the policy, economic, and human behavioral drivers that promote or inhibit the development of the subsurface in a sustainable manner, but will not make policy or funding recommendations.
local values. The committee’s definition of sustainable urban underground development is provided in Box 1.2.
The committee recognizes resilience as a key attribute of sustainability and defines resilience as the ability to respond to change in the environment—especially as a result of natural or human-caused disaster—with minimum impact to function. This is fairly consistent with definitions of resilience that appear in the social science literature (e.g., Norris et al., 2008). The ability to sustain expected societal services is a demonstration of resilience. In a societal setting, especially in the context of engineered systems, resilience is often associated with redundancy and reserves. However, the committee recognizes that resilience is more than the design of back-up systems and physical stockpiles. It encompasses a mindset in which society is considered a system where the underground plays a critical but often overlooked role.
In urban societies, the underground is part of a complex system that includes surface and above ground (e.g., bridges, skyscrapers) real estate. Without proper consideration of three-dimensional space and space usage over time, conflicts caused by competing use of the underground, or the problems associated with pollution of underground resources (e.g., space, groundwater, and materials) can
Definition of Sustainable Urban Underground Development
For the purpose of this report, sustainable urban underground development is an approach to subsurface development that meets current human needs while conserving resources and the natural and built environments to meet the needs of future generations. Sustainable urban underground development requires a systems perspective for above- and belowground resource use and management. Characteristics of sustainability as used in this report include consideration of cost effectiveness; longevity; functionality; safety; aesthetics and quality of life; upgradeability and adaptability; and the simultaneous maximizing of environmental and social benefits, resilience, and reliability, while minimizing potential negative impacts.
result. The resources of the urban underground need to be considered holistically for the most sustainable solutions (e.g., Parriaux et al., 2006). Individual projects are often framed independent of other planning and placed in the context of existing space use, rather than as part of long-term planning that allows integrated use of underground and surface space resources. Underground space is often not coherently or explicitly valued. As a result, most project designs are not chosen to preserve the opportunity for future flexibility and alternative uses or access. We have poor knowledge of the direct, indirect, and social costs of underground usage, and we have few metrics of the lifecycle benefits of investment in the underground.
Long-term sustainability is rarely a consideration in the early stages of the development of populated areas. An urbanization pattern observed in river valley settlements of developing countries serves as example of how human settlements can grow based on short-term and individual needs. For example, a hypothetical small settlement in a river valley may have plenty of room for both living and farming close to the river—typically the main water source. As the village grows, the fertile valley floor becomes significantly built over, and the adjacent hillsides—typically with poorer soil and requiring greater farming effort—are terraced for farming. Benefits of being close to the river are lost, and more difficult farming conditions are created. Quite different growth patterns may have evolved if long-term sustainability was considered from the outset.
A sustainability analysis might look at whether it would be better to terrace the hillsides for housing, providing greater flood protection in residential areas, and reserving the river valley for agriculture. Inherent in such an analysis would be consideration of which difficulties of outgrowing available land can be more easily solved—is it easier to create new productive agricultural land or to develop water supply and transportation approaches to service hillside developments? In real scenarios, such decisions extend to a regional and national context, but the
The terms hazard and risk appear throughout this report. There are many definitions of these terms, and even within the literature of a single discipline, the terms may be used inconsistently and interchangeably. Box 1.3 provides definitions for these terms as they are used throughout this report.
To establish a perspective for present and future underground use, it is useful to summarize the centuries of past underground use. A rich legacy of fossil records and ancient tools, art, and structural ruins suggests that humans have had a complex and intimate association with the subsurface ever since evolving into modern Homo sapiens. Humans have sought practical shelter underground, but the underground seems to have evoked a sense of the supernatural and a desire for aesthetic expression (see Box 1.4). Human remains, shells, animal bones, and stone artifacts discovered in the Klasies River Mouth Cave in South Africa offer strong evidence that modern humans lived there more than 120,000 years ago when the climate was as warm or warmer than today (Rightmire and Deacon, 1991).
At the most basic level, the underground provided rock shelters and caves as refuge from harsh climates and mortal enemies, water and mineral reserves,
Definitions Associated with Hazard and Risk
The committee defines hazard as the potential to cause harm. These are threats to people, infrastructure, the environment, or social systems.
Sustainability is dependent on accounting for all sources of risk and all potential consequences, including some with impacts that are difficult to quantify. These may include social, environmental, and other less tangible long-term impacts that traditional engineering practice may not consider. The committee adopts the National Infrastructure Protection Program expanded definition of risk that include
the expected magnitude of loss (e.g., deaths, injuries, economic damage, loss of public confidence, or government capability) due to a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or other incident, along with the likelihood of such an event occurring and causing that loss (DHS, 2006).
The committee defines vulnerability as the extent to which individuals, infrastructure, institutions, or systems can be harmed or damaged in the event of a hazardous event.
Underground Spirituality and Artistic Expression
There is an enduring influence of the underground on our collective imagination. The underground’s wide-ranging literary and real-life associations with death and the afterlife, hidden demons and monsters, sacred rituals, heroic sagas, clandestine political rebellions, organized crime, anarchic music and theatre, film noir, adventure-seeking spelunkers, and the eternal search for precious metals and minerals reflect its power and paradoxical imagery. The underground has never been a neutral realm in terms of human perceptions and emotions.
Beyond basic survival, humans have been attracted to the underground over tens of thousands of years for spiritual and artistic expression, recreation, and religious ceremonies, especially in the commemoration of the dead. The evocative paintings and engravings of animals and hunting scenes set deep in the Chauvet-Pont-D’Arc Cave in southern France (see Figure) have been carbon-dated to more than 30,000 years ago. Vestiges of ancient underground temples, crypts, and ceremonial sites can be found throughout the world, including Chavin de Huantar in Peru, the Osireon (Strabo’s Well) in Egypt, and the Hypogeum in Malta. Similarly, the mythologies of many cultures included gods and goddesses specifically dedicated to the underworld. The Roman version, Pluto, performed double-duty as the god of wealth because he also presided over all the precious metals hidden in the earth.
FIGURE Reproduction of a fresco found deep in the cave of Chauvet-Pont-D’Arc in southern France, drawn 30,000 years before present. SOURCE: The Cave of Chauvet-Point-D’ Arc, available at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paintings_from_the_Chauvet_cave_(museum_replica).jpg.
and ambient places to store food—all key factors for survival then as now. Some cultures have made the underground an integral part of daily life and their principal dwellings for thousands of years. Indigenous communities in China, Turkey, Spain, and Tunisia have continuously occupied man-made spaces belowground for more than 4,000 years; tens of millions of present-day Chinese still live in
FIGURE 1.1 Example of a multistory yao dong, a type of cave dwelling carved into vertical or near vertical walls of loess (a silty soil), in the Shaanxi province in northwestern China. Approximately 90 percent of rural dwellers in the region lives in yao dong. SOURCE: Liu, 2009. License CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.
dwellings known as yao dong (see Figure 1.1) carved into vertical walls of loess (a silty soil), many of which are said to date back to 5000 B.C. (Golany, 1996; Meijenfeldt, 2003).
Engineers of the ancient world skillfully exploited the underground with rudimentary technology to promote the growth of emerging cities and commerce. The first water supply technology in Jerusalem was an underground water system constructed during the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1500 B.C.) for both domestic and agricultural purposes (Barghouth and Al-Sa’ed, 2009). The 1,036 meter Tunnel of Eupalinos, the first-known deep tunnel in history, was part of the water supply system of the island of Samos in Greece and named after the engineer who designed and constructed it in 530 B.C.; it operated for nearly 1,000 years until the fifth century A.D. (Koutsoyiannis et al., 2008). The spectacular Roman cistern, Piscina Mirabilis (Figure 1.2), with a volumetric capacity of 12,000 cubic meters of water, was carved out of a tufa (a soft porous volcanic rock) hill in the Campania region in Southern Italy during the reign of Emperor Augustus Caesar between 33 and 12 B.C.E. to provide fresh water for an important Roman naval base as well as several major cities and ports (De Feo, 2008).
Much of the world’s population relies on the underground as a matter of daily necessity, convenience, or aesthetic choice. A small percentage lives or works underground full-time; a significantly larger share occasionally occupies the underground to attend concerts or movies, shop, worship, park vehicles, store things, or find relief from severe surface weather conditions. A frequent means of direct human contact with the underground is travel through it via automobile or railway tunnels, transit tubes, or pedestrian passageways. Many contemporary
FIGURE 1.2 The Piscina Mirabilis in southern Italy was a 12,000 cubic meter capacity cistern carved by the ancient Romans between 33 and 12 B.C.E. SOURCE: Ra Boe/ Wikipedia, License CC by-sa 3.0, available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Piscina_Mirabilis_2010-by-RaBoe-18.jpg.
underground facilities are world-renowned cultural icons, including the Moscow Metro (Figure 1.3), the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris (Figure 1.4), the Glass Temple in Kyoto, Japan, Philharmonic Hall in Cologne, Germany, and the Cathedral Metropolitana in Brasilia, Brazil.
Much of the history of underground construction is contemporary with the history of tunneling. For general accounts of the history of underground engineering, the reader is referred to work by Sandström (1963), Széchy (1970), Harding (1981), and Wood (2000).
FIGURE 1.3 Underground Metro platform in Moscow. SOURCE: Boris Kogut. Reprinted with permission of Boris Kogut ©2012.
FIGURE 1.4 The inverted pyramid in the Carrousel du Louvre, an underground shopping mall in Paris, France, adjacent to the Louvre museum of fine art. The underground facility accommodates shopping, live theatre, auditorium space, parking, and underground access to the famous museum. The inverted pyramid is made of glass and allows natural light into the underground facility. SOURCE: Photo by Gard Karlsen, available at http://gardkarlsen.com.
|Major Issues||Sub Category||Potential Benefits||Potential Drawbacks|
Physical and Institutional Issues
Proximity for functional benefit
Limited use of surface space
Provides utility and transportation services
Unfavorable geology in chosen location
Climatic: thermal, severe weather, fire, earthquake
Protection: noise, vibration, explosion, fallout, industrial accident
Security: limited access, protected surfaces
Containment: hazardous materials and processes
Climatic: thermal, flooding,
Human issues: pyschological concerns, fire safety, personal safety
Aesthetics: visual impact, interior design
Environmental: natural landscape, ecology
Low material degradation
Aesthetics: visual impact, building services, skillful design required
Environmental: site degradation, drainage, pollution
Land cost savings
Construction savings: no structural support, weather independent, scale of construction
Sale of excavated materials or minerals
Savings in specialized design features
Confined work conditions
Ground excavation, transport and disposal
Cost uncertainty: geological, contractual, institutional delays
Ventilation and lighting
Maintenance and repair
SOURCE: Adapted from Carmody and Sterling, 1993.
Underground space development presents many potential benefits, but there are many challenges to overcome in designing, operating, and maintaining underground infrastructure so that it contributes to urban sustainability. Table 1.1 lists some of the potential benefits and disadvantages of underground space development. Urban development patterns set in motion are hard to change. Underground space is often engineered to meet the needs of a single project or use. Design sometimes doesn’t accommodate long-term maintenance, much less interactions with existing or future structures. Many past and current utility layout practices, for example, are not consistent with sustainability goals (see Box 1.5) and do not take into account long-term impacts on the environment, economy, society, natural resources, or governance. As described by Sterling et al. (2012), underground facilities can influence the ways in which human occupancy of a land affects the surface environment as well as the economic and social structures of an urban area in ways not possible using already existing surface structures. Properly planned and maintained, underground infrastructure can contribute to sustainability by preserving natural surface resources (e.g., land, water, biodiversity), reducing air pollution related to transportation, creating opportunities for less energy use and waste generation, and creating structures more resilient to many catastrophic events. Examples worldwide demonstrate how underground facilities can have low environmental impact. The Groene Hart Tunnel that lies underground between the four largest cities in the Netherlands, for example, has provided rapid connection from Amsterdam to major economic centers in Europe without detriment to the large green space of Groene Hart (Sabel Communicatie, 2007; ITA-AITES, 2011).
The decision to move societal features underground is a major step in the development of human settlements. Infrastructure is often placed underground if it cannot fit or is not wanted at or above the surface. The decision to build underground may be made, for example, when contemplating a new transit system in a historic city with a unique and culturally important surface environment,
Sustainability of Underground Utility Design
Long-term sustainability of infrastructure design, such as for essential urban utilities, has rarely been considered in the past and is only sometimes considered today. Figure 1 shows what may well have been an engineering design feat in 1917. A “spaghetti” of underground pipes and conduits provided for a variety of services; however, repair or replacement of any element of this infrastructure would likely have resulted in disruption to local traffic and infrastructure service, and possibly in damage to other elements of the infrastructure. Utility corridors called utilidors, on the other hand, are enclosed conduits employed by some urban areas designed to carry multiple utility lines such as electrical, water and sewer, and communications (see Figure 2). Repair of individual utility lines can be conducted with minimal interference to surface structures or other infrastructure. Design can accommodate multiple levels of utilidors (see Figure 3). Further discussion on utilidors, their benefits, and barriers to their use is provided in Chapter 3.
FIGURE 1 The placement of underground utility infrastructure on Wall Street (circa 1917). SOURCE: Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. Reprinted with permission from Con Edison Company of New York.
or where existing street layouts or traffic levels do not permit new surface or elevated alignments. However, a desired location may present challenges—structures may already exist in the underground space, or geologic conditions may not be ideal. Urban needs often trump favorable geology. Although there is a large volume beneath Earth’s surface, perhaps only the first 30 meters beneath cities are used to support most urban functions. And of the first 30 meters, the vast majority of subsurface utilities and transportation services are placed beneath
FIGURE 2 Example of a utilidor in Amsterdam that can carry multiple utility lines such as electrical, water and sewer, and communications. SOURCE: Courtesy H. Admiraal.
FIGURE 3 Schematic showing utilidor design in Paris, France. Multiple levels of utilidor can be accommodated. SOURCE: SEMAPA. Reprinted with permission from © SEMAPA.
public rights-of-way (e.g., streets and sidewalks). Additionally, once disturbed, the underground cannot be restored to its prior condition. This is particularly true for spaces such as bored tunnels or caverns created within soil or rock; their presence significantly affects future options and costs of new underground infrastructure in their vicinity.
Structural and geotechnical constraints can limit the types of facilities placed underground in a given location or increase construction or operational costs relative
to cost for surface facilities. Water and moisture control in underground space is challenging—underground infrastructure needs to be protected from inflow or seepage of unwanted fluids, and vulnerable groundwater resources need to be protected from contamination and depletion. Existing underground infrastructure or legacy construction debris constrain underground planning and construction. However, placing infrastructure underground provides an added development dimension: complex transportation systems can be located beneath cities, and tunnels can be placed beneath mountain ranges and rivers.
Another set of opportunities and challenges are those associated with people using or working in underground space. These include institutional and administrative constraints related to planning and permitting, underground infrastructure security, safety, and the psychological acceptability of underground structures and their use. This report does not explore all these issues in great detail, but Chapter 4 provides more discussion of these issues. Simply not having an experiential basis for decision making related to underground infrastructure makes these issues more challenging. Underground permitting, for example, is less routine than for surface facilities and therefore can be more cumbersome. Safety codes for occupied underground facilities, including codes related to fire, egress, and ventilation systems, may not exist or may be inadequate (see Chapter 4 for discussion on existing codes for certain facility types). Underground infrastructure can be more secure than surface infrastructure because of the controlled access and isolation the underground offers. Similarly, the underground can be used to separate or isolate hazardous materials such as raw sewage or high-voltage electrical lines from people and infrastructure on the surface. On the other hand, that same separation means that protecting against physical hazards such as flooding, internal fire, and explosions is more challenging, especially as diverse underground infrastructure becomes more integrated with other underground and surface infrastructure.
Access to underground facilities or resources may be difficult or impossible for physically impaired individuals without mechanical conveyance. Safety for people with special needs is a major challenge, for example, in the event of power failure. Other members of society may simply be uncomfortable with the notion of the underground, or they may find the lack of natural light in the underground unpleasant or spatially disorienting. And for some, there are physiological or psychological barriers to working, living, wayfinding and commuting, or playing underground including claustrophobia or fear of isolation. Many with discomforts may learn to use and appreciate the underground with appropriate public education campaigns. Discomforts can be effectively addressed with skillful planning, innovative designs, layout, finish, and lighting.
Cautionary tales of underground communities created by a drive for efficiency
or a response to a calamity can be found in a number of literary works (e.g., Forster, 1909). Such concerns need to be considered—both in broad terms of what living and working environments should be—as well as in the details of facility design.
The balance between the desire for open air living and the convenience or protection offered by underground facilities is not a fixed point. Although a small percentage of the population may be unable psychologically to tolerate underground facilities, others choose cave exploration as a hobby. Most in society, perhaps, are Influenced by a conscious or unconscious evaluation of the benefits and drawbacks relating to particular circumstances, for example, a fast, convenient journey on an underground metro versus a slow journey in a car or bus on the street, or shelter during a wartime attack. Good design in response to an understanding of what makes underground spaces interesting, attractive, safe, cost effective, and part of sustainable development within existing physical limitations can shift the balance point regarding perception of underground use.
Daily urban life generally proceeds without residents noticing the operation of underground infrastructure, and perhaps the success of infrastructure may be measured, in part, by how much it is taken for granted. Engineers design and build for function while minimizing risk. However, it is impossible to completely eliminate risk. Failures of infrastructure will happen as a result of age, error, or extreme events. It is such failures that lead to the need for reports such as this, which describes many types of infrastructure failures to illustrate the challenges to be overcome. Underground infrastructure successes are also highlighted to demonstrate approaches to underground engineering that may contribute to sustainable urban development.
Countries such as Finland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Japan, China, and Singapore have taken national-level action that promotes underground space use as a policy issue. Countries such as France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany have significant levels of underground activity, but underground use lacks a national level of attention (Sterling et al., 2012). In this report, the committee will argue that a multilevel, multidisciplinary approach to urban planning that incorporates underground engineering as part of the overall approach may provide a better framework for sustainable urban development.
The statement of task as it appears in Box 1.1 is long and broad, but after considerable study of the task, and following multiple discussions with the committee sponsor, the committee came to understand that the heart of its task is consistent with the committee’s given title: the Committee on Underground Engineering for Sustainable Development. The committee deliberated its charge and prepared this report considering the contributions of engineered underground space to sustainable development as well as what is needed in the social, educational,
This report is organized into seven chapters. Chapter 2 traces the evolution of urban underground space use and the drivers affecting proper development. In Chapter 3, the committee discusses the role of underground engineering in sustainability and some of the challenges of sustainable underground development. Chapter 4 examines human-technical system relationships and the hazards related to human use of underground space. The assessment of costs and benefits of underground infrastructure and lifecycle sustainability are addressed in Chapter 5. Chapter 6 explores the technologies that make underground engineering possible and discusses the types of innovations that could increase the contributions of underground engineering to sustainable development. Finally, the committee presents its overarching conclusions in Chapter 7 in the context of a framework to improve institutional, educational, research, and workforce capacities for underground engineering for sustainability.
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