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Madrid Living Lab

Madrid, Spain

Key Partners

Crea Madrid Nuevo Norte
Madrid City Council

Main Solutions
Geothermal District Heating & Cooling

Low carbon materials
Digital Tools
Digital Twins


Madrid Nuevo Norte (MNN) is the most important urban transformation project that Spain’s capital will undergo and one of the largest urban regeneration projects in all of Europe, designed to improve the quality of life of its citizens, creating a more efficient, sustainable and prosperous Madrid. 



The Madrid Living Lab is located in MNN and is set to showcase a geothermal energy model which stands as a benchmark for sustainable urban design, planning, and rehabilitation in Europe. 


At Madrid Living Lab, our objective goes beyond achieving zero CO2 emissions. We strive to establish a positive energy balance and create green districts that promote a brighter future for our cities. Through innovative methodologies, we empower the implementation of feasible solutions for individual buildings while also considering the broader context of green districts.

The Madrid LL has 4 main research objectives: 

  • Energy efficiency and renewable generation of buildings and neighbourhoods. Investigate the technologies required for a zero emissions building.

  • Reducing the carbon footprint associated with the entire life cycle of assets. 

  • The use of the pilot project to resolve local and national regulatory barriers and standardise procedures to facilitate its scaling. 

  • The analysis of social impacts to reduce inconvenience during the execution of the works in the neighbourhoods of the surrounding area.

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Geothermal District Heating and Cooling

Innovations and Technological Advances

Technology 1: Geothermal District Heating and Cooling


How can high-rise buildings be made zero-emission in an urban dense area?


A geothermal District Heating and Cooling was designed by IDOM with the support of Ecoforest. This infrastructure is integrated into the public space. The objective is to test and scale the integration of a district heating and cooling system using 100% renewable energy. 


The module was limited to 60 sqm and designed to be executed underground, with the surface naturalized. The model expected for the governance of the infrastructure is Renewable Energy Community

Technology 2: Low Carbon Materials and machinery


How to reduce the environmental impact of Madrid Llab construction? 

For the design of the DHC, a Life Cycle Assessment was performed with a preliminary result of 111.459,23 kgCO2 eq. To reduce this impact, Acciona R+D and Celsa are working on producing low carbon materials.

The use of non-primary available resources is a competitive advantage to target to a more circular model. Recycled and artificial aggregates will be used to partially replace natural aggregates. The recycled aggregate will come from concrete waste and the artificial aggregates will be black slags from steel production.

Additionally, a local study to reduce emissions associated with machinery and works will be elaborated.

Technology 3: Energy modelling platform


How to make Madrid LLab energy installations as efficient as possible? 

This challenge is being researched by 6 partners: Cartif, TPF, Stam, Franhoufer, Anergy and IDOM.

They will combine their digital tools and knowledge to provide a complete decision-taking energy solution for buildings during design and operation phase. The energy modelling platform will simulate the demand of the buildings hourly and combine to achieve zero emissions buildings with:

  • Different strategies for the operation of the District Heating and Cooling infrastructure to adapt generation to demand and storage in the building mass (Thermoactivation)

  • Different scenarios to orientated PTV or other renewable energy generation system on site to adapt generation to demand hourly.

  • Analysis of the use of bidirectional electric vehicle charging stations to storage renewable energy hourly. 

Technology 4: 2nd life batteries


How can energy be better managed during construction?

BeePlanet second life batteries will be placed during the construction works of Madrid Llab. These batteries will enhance energy efficiency and circularity during the construction phase.


Technology 5: Air quality dispersion during works


How will the works affect air quality? 

The University of Santiago is developing a Digital Twin.

The goal is to use a digital tool to provide with information on local conditions, such as weather and aerosol behaviour, to plan a demolition that minimises environmental impact on air quality.


Technology 6: Heat Island Effect


How does a large urban redevelopment project such as MNN affect Madrid's urban temperature?

University of Santiago, Akka and Madrid City Council are collaborating to develop a digital tool. The goal is the use data from the European satellite constellation to create a high-resolution digital replica of urban environments, focusing on land surface temperature for monitoring of urban heat islands (UHIs), enabling to visualise and assess the impact of urban developments and mitigative strategies, such as the integration of green spaces or the introduction of reflective roofing materials.

Social and Behavioural Innovation

GeoDesign Workshop


AOn November 2023, an online survey and a physical workshop was held. The survey aimed to better understand citizens’ interests in sustainable infrastructure and the workshop aims to facilitate future use of DHC and other sustainable communitarian infrastructures.

Policy Workshop

A policy workshop was developed at the end of 2023. This workshop aims to identify and increase awareness in the public administrations about the challenges to develop zero emissions buildings with current Spanish regulation. The workshop used the challenges detected for the implementation of PROBONO.


The workshop was divided into two sections:

·      Challenges to develop a renewable District Heating and Cooling network in Spain

·      Challenges to develop a Renewable Energy Community in Spain

CERNA Survey 


Madrid LL is working with SIN on administering a CERNA survey, targeting a large proportion of Madrid citizens.


The survey will map out knowledge, (mis-) beliefs and social norms to the climate crisis (including energy) at Madrid.


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:

Rafael Sánchez. 


Javier Dorao 



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