SURO - The urban underground as mine? Potential of secondary resources in subsurface infrastructure systems

Feasibility of a resource cadaster to inventorize, characterize and locate material stocks in subsurface infrastructure networks. The results are used for the economic assessment of secondary resource potentials.

Short Description

Starting point/Motivation

Buildings, infrastructure and landfills pose reservoirs for the production of secondary raw materials. The underground networks for energy, water and communication cover a significant but unknown resource potential. A resource cadaster is a tool that provides the georeferenced information about the type and mass of materials and their operational status. This information facilitates the economic assessment of resource potentials.

Contents and Objectives

The goal of the study is to assess the feasibility and efforts to develop a resource cadaster for underground networks such as for electricity, gas, water, wastewater, far-distance heating and telecommunication. The focus is on urban regions in Austria.


To achieve the goals, three steps are carried out: (1) Defining the information need to develop a resource cadastre. (2) Investing the availability of relevant information in Austria and demonstrate the effort for developing a resource cadastre in selected study areas. (3) Systematic comparison of information need and availability in order to assess the feasibility and effort to develop a resource cadastre.


The results demonstrate the feasibility and acceptable effort to develop a resource cadastre on the network operator level in the case study regions. This facilitates an integrated maintenance and recovery strategy on operator level and contributes to a lifecycle-oriented management of infrastructure. Data from operational cadastres need to be merged in order to create a resource cadastre on national level with a focus on urban regions. This facilitates national resource planning oriented towards the integration of primary and secondary resources.

Prospects / Suggestions for future research

The study shows the creation of the material inventories for underground networks as wherewithal for an economic assessment of the resource potentials. This allows the identification of hotspots in the grid to gain secondary raw materials and to map them with a resource cadaster. The implementation of a resource cadaster requires the cooperation with the network operators as key stakeholders for data provision and the development of integrated maintenance and recovery strategies.

Project Partners

Project management

Vienna University of Technology
Institute for Water Quality, Resource and Waste Management
O.Univ.Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.rer.nat. Paul H. Brunner

Contact Address

Vienna University of Technology
Institute for Water Quality, Resource and Waste Management
Ulrich Kral, MSc PhD
Karlsplatz 13/226
A-1040 Vienna
Tel.: +43 (1) 58801 226-55
Fax: +43 (1) 58801 9 226-55