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Aarhus Living Lab

Aarhus, Denmark

Key Partners

Lead: AU






Main Solutions
Flow Batteries
cling Design
Human-centred analysis 


Independently of PROBONO, Aarhus University is undergoing a major university-wide renovation programme called Campus 2.0. Campus 2.0 goals include (formalised in DGNB gold standard rating)

  • minimising environmental impact (sustainably developed, renewable and sustainable energy generation, reduced CO2 footprint)

  • promoting social qualities (“vibrant” campus, flexible study environment, offer housing for students and researchers)


A key issue is that, in general, there is no roadmap or pathway in achieving these goals.


Therefore, the overarching ambition and objective of the PROBONO Aarhus LL is:

  • provide the roadmap (for meeting environmental and social targets) in specific cases

The Aarhus LL targets buildings in two sites: University City (six buildings), and Campus Viborg (one building called K45.

The objectives will be achieved through three lines of activities:

  • Flow batteries (Campus Viborg): advanced sustainable energy storage devices that address life cycle environment (LCA) and life cycle cost (LCC) for the entire site (i.e. across all buildings that form the neighbourhood of Campus Viborg)

  • Upcycling design (Campus Viborg): upcycling design strategies that repurpose existing structures for new housing that address life cycle environmental (LCA) and social qualities (SLCA)

  • Human-centred analysis tools (buildings on both sites): used to make as-designed social values explicit and visible to a wide range of stakeholders, and therefore also ensuring that social values are present and traceable throughout the design phase and operational phase (SLCA)

Using NovaDM to precisely specify design options and explore the (renovation) design space

Using NovaDM to precisely specify design options and explore the (renovation) design space


High-level steps in renovation design tasks using NovaDM

Innovations and Technological Advances

Technology 1: Flow batteries (VisBlue)


Partner VisBlue produce flow batteries as an alternative to lithium batteries. At Campus Viborg, 10ha of solar panels are planned to be installed independently of the PROBONO project, with excess energy being delivered to the grid or stored in batteries. The original plan by Campus Viborg was to use lithium batteries.


The crux of the analysis is that lithium batteries lose 30% of their capacity after 10 years, whereas flow batteries do not, meaning that they are a better financial investment in the long term. Secondly, most parts on material level ad especially the fluid in flow batteries can be reused and is not harmful as waste, so the circularity benefits are also higher than lithium.


This serves the need to help Aarhus LL reduce their CO2 footprint, and life cycle costs.

Technology 2: upcycling buildings (repurposing rather than demolition)


COWI is exploring alternatives for renovating buildings in Campus Viborg, applying their expertise in LCA with the focus on gains from upcycling, and utilising NovaDM (a decision support tool developed by AU). In particular, a number of empty buildings may be renovated for new use purposes. Currently, a former cattle stable K45 is under consideration for a new purpose of accommodations for 50 people allocated to tending to the farm animals in the new campus.


COWI have defined a number of changes that could be made to the design, and are exploring this design space by analysing KPIs. COWI's analysis is based on a set of high-relevance KPIs including embedded energy (kg CO₂ eq), social qualities (living space, history of Foulum Forsøgsstation, indoor climate), energy efficiency, and financial costs.


This serves the need to help Aarhus LL reduce their CO2 footprint, and promote social qualities.

Technology 3: Human-centred analysis


AU is developing a process called ProFormalise for making as-designed social values explicit in the design of a building. ProBIM is the corresponding approach being developed by AU that extends Building Information Modelling (BIM) standards so that these social value design intentions can be represented as a native part of the BIM model of the design. The term "native" means that the social values are recorded as proper digital instances of classes within the class hierarchy of the BIM standards, on the same ontological level as other standard building elements such as walls, doors, and so on. Thus, ProFormalise facilitates the digitalisation of as-designed social values.


Social values, in this regard, refer to the direct, positive impacts for people and communities that can be created when one goes beyond `fit for purpose' built environment design to create socially sensitive infrastructure or architecture. This includes well-being, comfort, health, accessibility, a sense of belonging, forming of social connections, equality, and social mobility. 


ProFormalise is being developed through a series of case studies of real buildings, and interviews with Gustaf Lohm, the architect that worked on bringing social values into those buildings.


Once the social value has been made explicit, formalised and implemented in software, it can be assessed on a given BIM model using specialised simulators. ITA INNOVA is developing a CFD-based air flow simulator call the Ventilation Assessment Tool that is being applied in the AU LL for assessing social values related to air quality. The added value of Ventilation Assessment Tool is that architects can evaluate air quality and human comfort on each considered renovation scenario prior to construction, ensuring that social values will be achieved, while minimizing energy consumption.


SystemX is adapting their Model Identity Card (MIC) technology to enable users to select and configure simulators in order to accurately and effectively assessed the captured as-designed social values on BIM models.


This serves the need to help Aarhus LL promote social qualities.


ProFormalise workflow


Floor plan of molecular biology basement, with locations of design intention items DI1-DI6.

Social and Behavioural Innovation

GeoDesign Workshop


AU LL and UCD will hold a GeoDesign workshop in April 2024.


The workshop aims to support stakeholders at Campus Viborg in their process of upgrading the current site, which consists of research facilities and offices, into a full campus with a large influx of students engaging in recreational and learning activities, and living in new apartments on site


The intended value-adding outcome of workshop is: 


(a) more uptake of PROBONO technologies at Campus Viborg by building owners (including upcycling by renovating existing structures as pursued by COWI, presented in Section 3.2)


(b) identify new opportunities for other PROBONO technologies that could address Campus Viborg stakeholder needs that we have not yet identified


The target issue of workshop is: how to gradually adapt the existing facilities, landscape, building to the new users and new teaching approaches without upsetting the quality of the existing research centre

CERNA Survey 


AU LL is working with SIN on administering a CERNA survey, targeting a large proportion of AU students


The survey will map out knowledge, (mis-) beliefs and social norms to the climate crisis (including energy) in the student body at AU


By simply filling out the survey, the intention is that this will already promote, engage and activate energy awareness in the participants


Data generated from this survey will both inform future information activities and possibly also behavioural change interventions, and some of the data is sought to be used for assessing social KPIs on energy awareness.

Contact Information

Living Lab Leader:

Lohm, Gustaf



Schultz, Carl (AU principle investigator in PROBONO)



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