November 1, 2019 Stine Kolding


How can we make better use of buildings’ space and square meters? Can flexible spaces and solutions extend the life span of buildings? What will it take for us to share more and live smaller?

CHANGING LIVES : CHANGING BUILDINGS is the title of the 2020 SUSTAINABLE BUILD Innovation Challenge, which was announced at Building Green in Forum, Copenhagen. The Innovation Challenge is an open invitation to entrepreneurs and companies that calls for solutions for the next generation of buildings to create settings and encourage us to live more sustainable lives.


Social sustainability must be incorporated into construction

In this year’s Innovation Challenge, the SUSTAINABLE BUILD partnership seeks solutions for greater incorporation of social, environmental and economic sustainability when we build and renovate buildings. Hanne Juel of Circular Economy Central Denmark Region, a SUSTAINABLE BUILD partner, hopes to see innovations that can bridge the gap between environmental and social sustainability:

“We spend many hours of our lives inside flats and behind closed doors. We need buildings to make room for informal spaces where people can come together and, when building, we also need to think across social groups. What we need is much more social sustainability in the build environment concurrent with increased sustainability in terms of environmental impact and the use of resources.”

Smaller living spaces, more communal areas

Martin Thue Jacobsen, a SUSTAINABLE BUILD partner and Urban Developer at PensionDenmark, seeks new solutions that focus on the life that people live in buildings and solutions that can connect people – neighbours, companies and other users – in communities that share resources and facilities in new ways:

“We need to design and construct buildings to accommodate new ways of living, breaking the boundaries between what is yours, mine and shared. We need new solutions to create gathering points that make sure we can share what can actually be shared, thereby reducing overall resource consumption: for example, via new digital and physical platforms that can encourage communities and sharing between residents and neighbourhoods.”

Flexibility and multifunctionality as key elements

In order to build and renovate in a way that supports greater flexibility and multifunctionality, we need new solutions. The SUSTAINABLE BUILD partnership also includes Henning Larsen Architects, represented by Signe Kongebro, Head of Sustainability. What she would like to see is new, smart solutions that address how existing spaces can accommodate multiple needs and purposes at the same time:

“We know that 2019’s sustainable construction industry is not about building more, but smarter. We talk a lot about how to recycle a wall. But the fact of the matter is that the wall should remain – and the space should be recycled instead. In other words, it is not the wall we should regard as a resource, but the space. How can we ensure that more people can use the spaces we create in a smarter way?”

Marlene Haugaard, Director of Engineering at NCC Building and a SUSTAINABLE BUILD partner, agrees:

I can’t wait to see solutions for making buildings smarter and more flexible. I’m thinking not only about how more people can use the buildings we create, but also how we can make it more attractive to live in the building through various stages of life. Or new solutions that accommodate these changing needs in a different way.”

Buildings with a longer life span

Better utilisation of buildings’ spaces will help extend their life span, thereby reducing their overall consumption of resources. Michael Aastrup, Global Account Director at Tarkett and a SUSTAINABLE BUILD partner, hopes to see solutions that accommodate increased usage, while supporting recycling and circularity:

What will it require of our buildings if they are used 24/7? At the same time as we open the boundaries of what is yours, mine and ours, and thereby wearing out the same square metres?” he asks. “It places much higher demands on the durability of components and flexibility in terms of renovation, while not compromising on either sustainability, health or circularity.”

Søren Mejer of The Landowners’ Investment Foundation agrees. He hopes to see solutions that address how we can renovate and adapt existing buildings to suit the lives we live in them.

In Denmark, when we talk about ‘the buildings of tomorrow’, it primarily revolves around renovating the existing building stock, so it can accommodate the needs of the future. That is why it is essential to find new and better solutions for adapting existing buildings in a way that is both sustainable and preserves the building’s aesthetic and user value.”

This is the fourth Innovation Challenge held by SUSTAINABLE BUILD since the project initiated in 2015, as part of The Danish Industry Foundation’s focus on sustainable production.

Do you have an innovation or solution that could contribute to more sustainable lives in buildings? If so, then submit your SUSTAINABLE BUILD Innovation Challenge entry application now, or no later than February 1st, 2020 on:



If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact:

Stine Kolding
+45 60166126


SUSTAINABLE BUILD is a partnership between key stakeholders across the Danish building industry: Central Region Denmark, Henning Larsen, NCC, PensionDenmark and Tarkett. The initiative has been made possible with support from The Landowners’ Investment Foundation (GI) and The Danish Industry Foundation (IF) and was launched in the wake of The Danish Industry Foundation’s call for themes related to sustainable production. Besides the above-mentioned partners, the initiative also includes municipalities and stakeholders across the value chain of the building industry along with related industrial companies.


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