How to build houses that will exist for 300 years?

The dream of a greener world requires innovative and future-oriented building solutions. We are releasing more and more CO₂ and if we want to have any hope of meeting the global climate ambitions of the Paris Agreement, this must change before 2020.

It is estimated that about 40% of our CO₂ emissions come from house building and construction. With the right knowledge and technology, emission can be drastically reduced. We are experiencing rapid progress in the development of materials, information and sensor technology and research in the development of new intelligent building components and systems. With new technology, we will be able to follow climate change, adapt to users’ immediate needs and ensure renewable energy production. The need for fossil fuels will therefore be reduced, while user's requirements to building functionality and indoor climate are fulfilled.

COWI Try and this year's innovation project, Sollihøgda Plussby (Sollighøgda Plus City) do exactly this - they open for the use of new knowledge, they create a new way of living and contribute to technological advances.

I study Architectural Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark with focus on energy and indoor climate in housing. To me it is especially important to have a holistic approach to design. Here, understanding of architecture, focusing on space and its quality, is very exciting. Understanding the balance and interaction between daylight, energy and indoor climate is crucial for success. For example, energy-efficient windows will let daylight in and provide views, while helping to keep the heat out during the summer and in in winter. This helps create a healthy home, with optimal mechanical and natural ventilation.

Creating a plus city

Sollihøgda Plussby's wish to use environmentally friendly and smart technology is very promising. The future's need for "smart buildings" as well as our wish to maintain a high standard of living will set the framework for the homes in the Plus City. Therefore, we can design housing that is highly insulated, low-energy housing, equipped with solar cells and remote cooling systems, as well as intelligent control of the house's installations. The buildings can also be designed with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and sustainability in mind, while offering great flexibility. For example, we can build homes with a target lifetime of 300 years. With high ceilings and removable walls, the houses can be adapted to future needs and changes. In order to achieve the best solutions, it is essential to consider these aspects already in the design phase.

In order to reach the UN and Sollihøgda Plussby climate goals of producing more energy than we use, we need vision and imagination. Ideal measures, beyond those already mentioned, will include the use of the area’s own resources. Norway is already known for exploiting energy where it is created. We see this in, among other things, traditional hydropower, which uses the large height differences in the landscape. This will of course also be done in Sollihøgda Plussby. Energy sources such as solar energy, wind energy, hydropower, bioenergy from plants and geothermal energy will be used. The various energy sources will be connected to a Smart Grid. Smart Grid can be translated into "intelligent power grid", in which we can control and distribute energy better according to the amounts produced and needed at different times of the day.

This year's innovation project is a unique opportunity for me to collaborate across disciplines and experiment with holistic solutions. I get to work with my fellow students in COWI Try, and get a unique insight into a dynamic consulting engineering company like COWI. Together with my fellow students, I have the opportunity to investigate, explore and dream ourselves into future energy-efficient solutions and opportunities. An amazing opportunity and challenge I am glad to participate in.

The blog a translated from Danish to English.

Read more about the COWI Try programme.


Lone Rasmussen

33 years


Architectural Engineering, DTU, Denmark

COWI department: