Breakfast seminar on Sustainable Plus-Energy Neighbourhoods in Europe in Oslo, Norway

On the 1st of December, syn.ikia coordinator Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) together with FutureBuilt[1], organised a breakfast event with the aim of promoting the concept of Sustainable Plus Energy Neighbourhoods (SPEN), our main mission. The hosting of the event was ensured by Design and Architecture Norway – DOGA. Each of the four speakers contributed in English or Norwegian to the main topic, presenting different dimensions of SPEN. The panel was composed of representatives from NTNU, and two of the demo sites: Arca Nova Grupen from Norway and Area Wonen, from the Netherlands.

Niki Gaitani, Associate Professor at NTNU and Leader of syn.ikia project, presented our 5S strategy: save, shave, share, shine, scale to achieve 5D impact areas: decentralisation, democracy, decarbonisation, digitalisation, and design. ‘It is essential to make the community proud of their neighbourhood’ she said. Niki also mentioned that syn.ikia’s concept is based on three important dimensions: energy efficiency in buildings, flexibility for energy consumptions within neighbourhoods, and regional/local supplies of renewable energy towards climate neutrality and energy surplus. She also stressed the importance of healthy and affordable living in #SPEN.

Inger Andresen, Professor at NTNU and Leader of the Design in syn.ikia, gave the audience a brief tour of our demonstration projects and highlighted that monitoring and evaluation results are expected to become available towards the end of the project in 2024. Due delays in granting planning permission, the Norwegian demo neighborhood is in process of being replaced. Inger also presented our methodology, in continuous development and building upon the experience of The ZEN Research Centre on integrated energy design for buildings (IEDB)  to scale up to the neighbourhood level (IEDN). Inger also underlined how important it is to think about energy when working with neighbourhoods instead of single buildings.

From Thijs van den Noord, Project manager and Real estate developer, the audience found out about what it takes to build a SPEN demonstrator, in Uden, The Netherlands. Thijs shared the challenges of adapting the construction site to the requirements of the syn.ikia project as well as the benefits of using the Digital twin model more often and engaging with residents throughout the process. He also stressed that adding a digital twin of a building can bring an added value to homeowners, helping them improve the financial management of the project. ‘Human behaviour cannot be predicted but based on the weather forecast and the daily heat demand of each apartment, it’s possible to estimate how to regulate the energy supply’ he concluded on the benefits of the digital twin technology.

Ole-Edvin Utaker, project developer at Arca Nova Bolig, presented a proposal for our new Norwegian demonstration project “Verksbyen”[2]. Verksbyen is situated outside of Fredrikstad, one of the fastest growing cities in Norway, and is a residence area currently under development. 203 living units have been built so far, while 1500 living units are planned altogether. The project also includes a large park and green areas, as well as a school and kindergarten. Ole-Edvin shared the idea behind the concept “Future Living”, which involves reduced operational costs for residents, the use of smart home-technology and solar energy and climate-friendly construction. He emphasized that all homes are built following the passive house standard and they use building integrated photovoltaics and ground source heat pump. He also mentioned their commitment to low carbon design, energy sharing and using recycled materials.

The participants managed to include a great number of key aspects from the syn.ikia project in a presentation of only an hour and a half. During this time, the public was introduced to the basics of the project and what does it aim to achieve, they learned what a demo site is, what it takes to build a sustainable plus energy neighbourhood and how are the results monitored and evaluated, and they received concrete examples to better understand the potential impact of the project.

All the information regarding our SPEN demonstrators is available under the Neighbourhoods page, and if you want to the complete presentations, the recording can be found here.


[1] To support climate friendly urban development, six municipalities in the Oslo region are collaborating on the FutureBuilt programme

[2] Still pending official approval.


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