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First residents move into Climate-KIC’s sustainable housing ‘Living Labs’

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The HSB Living Labs open to students and researchers in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Energy waste in our homes is a glaring issue, contributing to a bigger carbon footprint and bigger utility bills. Research in this area has led to the creation of sustainable homes that propose a more ecological lifestyle.

Climate-KIC is Europe’s largest public-private partnership on climate change. The organisation is building a pan-European network of sustainable homes called ‘Living Labs’, where the key focus is to test efficiency and sustainability.

HSB, a Swedish cooperative housing company, has developed its Living Lab in Gothenburg as part of the network, with the purpose of creating sustainable housing for the future. The goal is to speed up the process of introducing accommodation innovations from the current 10 years to two years.

The Living Lab is a portable four-story building consisting of 29 apartments, with 2,000 active sensors and 15,000m of data cable. It doubles as student accommodation and an exhibition where sustainable housing technology will be tested for 10 years.

Real-life testing

With Climate-KIC’s flagship programme Building Technology Accelerator (BTA), Living Labs work closely with twelve partners from industry and academia to offer real-life environments to develop, test and demonstrate sustainable building methods and systems alongside building industry professionals.

Mats Bergh, chief executive of Johanneberg Science Park, a partner in the project, said: “HSB was one of the first partners of Johanneberg Science Park. A partnership of combined expertise will reinforce the involved partners and provide students with a brand new arena for collaboration.”

Daily performance and climate impact can be assessed more accurately with this approach. The inhabited building ensures that the solutions developed meet the building industry’s market needs and provides financially viable low-carbon solutions.

Helene Hellmark Knutsson, minister for Higher Education and Research for the Swedish government, said: “Through this good example of an open research arena, there are now opportunities for introducing important residential innovations on the market faster.”

Innovation demonstration

Almost 200 people have visited HSB Living Lab at Chalmers in Gothenburg and taken part in research at the site. This included demonstrations of the Laundry Studio, an integrated laundry and social area and BioBlender, which separates water from kitchen compost and makes it possible to compost on your own balcony. The building’s interchangeable wall modules are also designed to save energy and money. The building’s low-temperature return district heating system involves both regular radiators and underfloor heating, resulting in local waste heat, small-scale heat production and energy storage that can be used more effectively.

Angela Sasic Kalagasidis, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, said: “Thanks to the ability to test new wall systems as well as insulation and cladding materials for periods of up to ten years, we now have the best conditions for the successful development of sustainable solutions for the future.”

Students and researchers have been living in the HSB Living Lab since 1 June 2016. Guests were recently given the opportunity to visit the students’ homes and see a 47m3 flat. Rebecca Eurenius shares a kitchen, bathroom, living room and balcony with five other students.

Eurenius said: “The fact that they measure everything we do and how we move about does not bother me at all. It is just fun to be a part of it and do my part for a sustainable world.”

Before the end of the year, at least 15 research projects will be started up at the HSB Living Lab. The majority of new innovations should arrive within the course of one year.

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