Living Lab is a two bedroomed detached house on the edge of the university campus in Trondheim. It is also a research laboratory which is testing state of the art technology committed to achieving Zero emissions within a 100m2 dwelling. The first qualitative experiment in Living Lab will take place from September 2015 to April 2016, when six different resident groups comprising of two to four people, will make Living Lab their home for a period twenty-five days each. The resident groups were chosen because they are associated with three basic demographic categories; students under 30 who are already cohabiting, families with small children and couples around the age of sixty. The resident groups are otherwise different in terms of hobbies, interests, academic and job related background. Their permanent homes are also different; they live in student housing, apartments, detached houses, in urban and rural areas. Participant observation and interviews will be used to gather empirical information before; during and after the six residence periods in Living Lab. This will provide detailed insight into the physical and technical qualities, meaningful and symbolic associations, and everyday practices in both their permanent homes and in Living Lab.
The concept of home suggests both social and physical space; it is also often a major source of identity for men and women. At the same time it is often an idealised model and not a true picture of how people actually live (Munro &Madigan, 1999). The use and understanding of a home that is established is often a negotiation between what is suggested by the physical space and the needs of the social space imposed by family life or other relational activities. The insight gathered in Living Lab will provide understanding of how the concept of home can be established within a highly technical setting and the implications this has for the use of the technology being tested in Living Lab.


The Trondheim living lab is a newly built detached single family home that is planned to reach a zero emission balance over the course of its lifetime. This is achieved by a broad variety of technical strategies such as passive and active energy design and efficient installations. The degree of automation of the building's environmental services (such as heating, cooling, ventilation, and light) has been left open to be able to test different control scenarios: manual, automatic and several modes combining both approaches.

In the first wave of qualitative experiments conducted in the laboratory between September 2015 and March 2016 six different groups are invited to live in the house for 25 days each. During this time, the script - i.e. the programs controlling the building according to ideal indoor environmental and energetic conditions - is kept as stable as possible. At the same time a user override is provided where applicable. Based on direct observation (mainly through sensors registering temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, light levels, presence, energy use, airing), and interviews before, during and after the stay, compliance and deviation from the script is registered and analysed along the dimensions of skill, meanings, and technology.

The goal of this analysis is twofold: First, we aim to provide a detailed account of which expected or unexpected occupant actions matter in which way for the resulting energy consumption of a high performance zero emission building. The second goal is conceptual: We revisit concepts like scripts and anti-programs (e.g. Akrich 1992; Latour 1992), domestication (e.g. Silverstone & Hirsch 1992; Sørensen 2006), and social practice (e.g. Schatzki et al. 2001; Reckwitz 2002) and explore their ability to shed light on occupants' interactions with automated domestic environments.

We are currently witnessing in the Norwegian building sector (and elsewhere) the transition from isolated and heterogeneous sustainable building projects carried out in protected niches (e.g pilot projects) to more sustainable buildings becoming mainstream. According to scholars studying sustainable transitions this is the moment in which a dominant design catches on, replacing and displacing other more or less sustainable alternatives.

Within this process, in the Norwegian case, the principles behind the passive house play a salient role. In fact, only recently a government white paper has called for "passive house levels" to become part of the building code by 2015. This strong focus on passive house principles is not without its critics and alternatives. Since 2010, a controversy about health and other negative impacts of insulating Norwegian houses (that are traditionally light wooden structures) to passive house levels has been going on in the Norwegian public and among experts. And recently, the building industry has entered the field with an adaptation of the BREEAM certification scheme which gains ground rapidly.

In this paper we describe and analyse these three options – passive house, its critique and BREEAM - of defining green andsustainable building in Norway based on media analysis and interviews with their respective proponents. We describe potential compatibilities and incompatibilities and conclude with questions for further research.




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