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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Sustainability Study on Underground Space for NTU Campus

Rapid urbanization in the twentieth century has led to many problems such as the lack of essential infrastructure, traffic congestion, land scarcity, and environmental degradation. It is assumed that developing underground space might be a feasible solution to tackle urban problems and achieve sustainability. This paper applies a case study and a sustainability assessment to examine the assumption. This paper is divided into five parts. The first chapter illustrates typical urban problems and identifies the necessity and feasibility to develop underground space. The second chapter, including a detailed literature review, examines the historical evolution of underground space and the resources and applications that could be provided by underground space. Chapter Three analyses the master plan Underground Space for a Sustainable Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Campus. To make a comparison between the sustainability of aboveground and underground space, embodied carbon emissions are calculated by applying the Benchmark data from Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Inventory of Carbon and Energy (ICE) database. Furthermore, sensitivity tests are conducted to explore the impacts of floor and wall thickness on the embodied carbon emissions. Chapter Four evaluates the benefits and challenges of developing underground space from the economic, environmental and social dimensions. It also attempts to explore solutions to overcome challenges and offers recommendations for decision-makers to take a systematic and long-term perspective to develop underground space. Chapter Five concludes all the findings and tries to answer the proposed research question that whether underground space development can be taken as an alternative to sustainable urban development.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.