Illustration: Benny Box

DTU is building for a sustainable future

Friday 26 Feb 21

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Rasmus Larsen
Provost
Rektoratet
+45 45 25 10 10
DTU is investing just under half a billion kroner in a new building dedicated to research aimed at climate change mitigation: Climate Challenge Laboratory. The building will provide the setting for research and development of new technologies for the green transition.

The world is far from compliance with the vision of a sustainable development formulated 34 years ago by a UN commission headed by Gro Harlem Brundtland. But an ever-increasing number of forces are working to achieve a sustainable society, and research clearly plays an important role in this connection.

“Society is quite simply looking to the universities for new knowledge, new technology, and new talents that can come up with solutions to the world’s great challenges. There is a demand for technology for people, which can contribute to a better, richer, fairer, and safer life without depleting natural resources or compromising life on earth,” says Rasmus Larsen, Provost.

DTU will play a role in initiatives aimed at pushing the development, such as the Government’s green partnerships, the Pioneer Centres in Climate and Energy, and the EU Commission’s Green Pact. Therefore, several of DTU’s central academic environments are expected to grow within the next years, and—to create space for them and give them the opportunity to collaborate in larger units—DTU is now investing just over DKK 400 million in a new research building named Climate Challenge Laboratory. 

Sustainable construction for sustainable research

The planning of the new building has just started. It will be of as much as 10,000 square metres and will be located next to Building 310, which is also a specialized research building. However, unlike almost all previous DTU buildings, it will not be attached to a department. The idea is that it will function as a platform for new collaborations across departments, disciplines and subjects, researchers and students, sectors, and companies, all working to solve the climate challenge.

"We’re thinking big and far ahead. Therefore, the laboratory layout and arrangement will become more generic than specific, and the house is designed to create the best conditions for both spontaneous and planned meetings."
Rasmus Larsen, prorektor

“We’re thinking big and far ahead. Therefore, the laboratory layout and arrangement will become more generic than specific, and the house is designed to create the best conditions for both spontaneous and planned meetings,” says Rasmus Larsen.

Like all new buildings at DTU, the Climate Challenge Laboratory will also have to be certified according to an international standard for sustainable construction, DGNB Gold. However, importance will also be attached to ensuring that the house will have a good indoor climate and consist of materials chosen with due consideration for carbon footprint and life cycle assessments.

“The new standard is called DGNB Gold Heart,” says Rasmus Larsen. "It must be a house in which people can thrive and develop their talents optimally.”

DTU has just signed a contract with MT Højgaard Danmark, MOE Rådgivende Ingeniører, og Christensen og Co Arkitekter, and these firms of architects and consulting engineers will plan the building project in consultation with DTU over the next year.

One member of the user group is one of the world’s leading catalysis researchers—Professor Jens Kehlet Nørskov—who returned to DTU a few years ago after a number of years at Stanford University. He sees the new house as a fantastic opportunity to create a unique academic environment around technologies for the necessary green transition.

“There will here be room to strengthen and develop the best research in this field. The building will encourage collaboration and exchange of views—not just across the University—but also between DTU’s researchers and experts throughout Denmark and beyond Denmark’s borders,” he says.

The house is scheduled to be taken into use in 2024.

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