The smart living lab project is a cutting-edge, inter-disciplinary, interinstitutional platform that combines several lines of research related to construction technologies: material sciences and renewable energy production systems that take into account aspects that are related to the occupation of a building, living space and housing, such as comfort, health and air quality. It aims to be a center of national scope, recognized on an international level and involving a variety of players and institutions.
The smart living lab is a center for research and development dedicated to the built environment of the future not only on a technical but also on a societal level.
Its goal is to imagine living spaces while focusing on users’ well-being and environmental issues. It draws on the combined skills of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the School of engineering and architecture of Fribourg (HEIA-FR) and the University of Fribourg (UNIFR) in the areas of sustainable architecture, technology and materials, comfort, as well as law and human sciences.
Students imagine a social activator for the Solar Decathlon
The Swiss Solar Decathlon Team came up with a social activator concept to raise awareness and promote a more responsible and more local use of resources. The Swiss team decided to call the project the Swiss Living Challenge!
University of Fribourg
At the UNIFR, three research groups of researchers will bring their knowledge to the table on the following subjects
- Economic and sociological impacts in the field of energy turnaround.
- Human-building interaction.
- Construction law and regulations.
Ecole polytechnique fédérale LausanneFour chairs and a guest professor chair from the EPFL will eventually be opened and will focus their research on the following subjects:
- Structure, construction and material sciences within the built environment.
- Energy systems at the building and neighborhood scales.
- Building’s users behavior, health and comfort.
School of Engineering and Architecture of FribourgFor the HEIA-FR, the smart living lab represents the opportunity to develop an interdisciplinary team of architects and engineers who will work on the smart integration of state-of-the-art processes and technologies into the transformation of the living space, taking into account their use, cultural values, and in particular issues related to the following aspects:
- Systemic modelling at a neighborhood and building scale.
- Adaptation – flexibility – interactivity.
- Performance measurement and improvement.
Research at the University
University of Fribourg – Socio-economic and legal research from three Faculties
The University of Fribourg aims to develop a multi-disciplinary competence center for "Energy cooperation" and lively energy systems and reflects on the future of buildings and their inhabitants from a strong social and economic, human-centered and legal perspective, to study on how people live, consume and interact and to propose adequate solutions to anticipate the future changes.
Economic & social impacts of the energy turnaround
The international institute of management in technology (iimt) is part of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences and one of the three research groups involved in the smart living lab project. The iimt's research activities focus on people and habitats. The urban design of decentralised energy systems is the interplay of habitats and eventually of people for the highest energy sustainability at maximum mobility and interconnectedness. The energy turnaround amplifies by social, economic, and political aspects.
The second research group is composed by researchers from the Human IST Research center of the Faculty of Science. Their research activities will focus on Human-Building Interaction. It aims to understand human interactions in buildings and designing and evaluating interactive systemsto improve inhabitants' comfort and quality of life, reduce energy consumption, and increase social and energy awareness. In the Human-building interaction focus, two main research axes will be addressed. First the methods and tools to assessthe human interactions in buildings and to assess the comfort of users, and second the interactive and visual technologiesto improve usability and comfort.
Construction law and regulation
The third research group of the University of Fribourg which is part of the smart living lab are researchers from the Law Faculty. Their research activities and their contribution will focus on three different areas. Firstly the regulatory aspects; the smart living lab might develop new instruments that allow (or even promote) the use of new building products. Secondly the smart living lab will become a competence center for the development of risk management procedures and expertise. Thirdly, within the smart living lab, new forms of contracts and the resolution of disputes can be developed, especially their procedures.
Research at the iimt
smart living lab and Crowd Energy
Caused by demographic change and technological development, the integration and coordination of demand side impacts the organisation, markets, infrastructure and communication. Thereby, the traditional value chain alters to a value network providing the possibility to produce, exchange, and consume electricity on a local area. The Crowd Energy concept allows not only to share electricity among numerous members, but also to provide an argument for a sustainable energy turnaround. It is predicted that the general phenomenon of crowds is a main driver. This new development generates several research directions.
First, the new role and decision-making of the prosumer defines the exchange behaviour within and among crowd(s). It includes the psychological decision-making at a certain point, the accountability of electricity, or the value of electricity. Second, the generation of crowd scenarios is highly important in terms of predicting the impact on the overall network. This involves the calculation, weight, and validation and creates a set of plausible scenarios. Finally, energy systems security culture is on focus as future energy systems will be mainly driven by ICT. Due to the fact that the iimt has a long research history in information security culture, research findings will be included into the project.
Publications related to smart living lab and Crowd Energy
The Solar Decathlon became, since its creation in 2002, the most anticipated and the most visible competition on an international level in the field of the built environment of the future. Created by the US Department of Energy, this competition developed throughout seven editions in the USA, three editions in Europe and one in China. It will continue to exist in the US, Europe, as well as Latin America.
Teams from all over the world get invited to create, develop and produce financially and energetically efficient housing units, while keeping an attractive look, and also to solve present and future urban planning issues.
Besides being a “competition”, the Solar Decathlon is an exceptional opportunity to establish a training program in sustainable development for architects and engineers working on a concrete project. It soon became clear that the Solar Decathlon project was fully representative of the objectives of the smart living lab. The participation of these research groups and their students in the American edition in 2017 was only natural, in order to make a demonstrator of the smart living lab.