Foto: Frontansicht des sozialen Wohnbaus Mühlweg in Wien

Urban Mining - Energy and resource savings due to urban mining

The use of natural resources in long-lived products and buildings has led to the build-up of enormous urban material stocks. The present project analyses the potential of these urban mines to increase the resource efficiency of modern cities.

Short Description




Starting point and motivation

The aim of urban mining is to efficiently recover materials from (long-lived) products at the end of their life. Re-introducing materials from the anthropogenic stock into product cycles saves natural resources and increases the ratio of raw material self-supply.

Furthermore, it is environmentally beneficial to use secondary raw materials, because of the typically lower environmental burden associated with recycling compared to primary production. Due to the enormous anthropogenic stock which has been built up in urban regions, enhanced urban mining can substantially contribute to increasing the resource efficiency of modern cities.

Contents and goals

The goal of the project is to analyze the potential of energy- and resource savings induced by the enhanced use of urban material stocks and to evaluate the contribution of urban mining to resource and energy efficient product cycles based on three case studies.

The case studies relate to specific parts of the anthropogenic stock, which contain a substantial amount of valuable materials in (currently or future) obsolete applications.

  • Case study 1 addresses the efficient use and recovery of materials in photovoltaic systems,
  • case study 2 investigates the lifecycle-oriented management (construction, maintenance and recovery) of subsurface infrastructures (power and telecommunication), and
  • case study 3 deals with the resource efficient management of buildings at the end of the useful life.

Besides the case studies, the broad involvement of relevant stakeholders is a central aspect of the proposed project, because it enables knowledge transfer among stakeholders and serves as a basis to identify potentials, opportunities and challenges as well as barriers for urban mining within the project.


The project builds on a combination of methods:

  • the critical analysis and evaluation of existing urban mining studies on urban infrastructures and buildings,
  • three case studies highlighting specific energy and resource savings due to urban mining (using material flow analysis and life cycle assessment), and
  • a well-structured process of knowledge exchange and discussion among stakeholders to identify optimization potentials from a broader perspective.

Expected results

The expected results include the synthesis of relevant national and international studies, specific case studies addressing the design of energy and resource efficient product cycles, possibilities for supporting recycling-oriented products and components, strategies to involve and incentivize stakeholders in the field of urban mining, and finally policy recommendations on the implementation of urban mining strategies on the city level.

Project Partners

Project management

Institute for Water Quality, Resource and Waste Management, TU Wien

Project or cooperation partners

Energieinstitut an der Johannes Kepler Universität Linz

Contact Address

Institute for Water Quality, Resource and Waste Management, TU Wien
DI Dr. David Laner
Karlsplatz 13/226
A-1040 Vienna
Tel.: +43 (1) 588 01 22 644

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