Grundfos Dormitory – a living laboratory and test bed

Grundfos Dormitory a living laboratory and test bed
Engaging residents

The newly opened 12-storey Grundfos Dormitory in the Danish city of Aarhus is home to more than 200 students – and it is also a living laboratory and test bed for more than 1,800 sensors that will provide unique knowledge about how to optimise and minimise water and energy consumption.

Taken into use in the autumn of 2012, the Grundfos Dormitory is designed to engage residents through the use of technology. The many Grundfos sensors throughout the building monitor all aspects of building performance around the clock, including indoor climate and energy and water consumption, providing a detailed and continuous analysis of all aspects of the building and its operation. The information gathered – expected to total one terabyte per year – will then be used to motivate and engage the residents in minimising consumption while working towards continuous energy optimisation – all in close cooperation between Grundfos, the students, owners and local universities.

Although technically involved in the project as the turnkey contractor, Danish company Sjælsø also acted as the project developer from the very start of the project, right from the purchase of the land for the building. Sjælsø worked closely with Grundfos on the installation of the many sensors and other equipment. Based on their extensive knowledge of the project and building, Carsten Raundahl (CR), Business Unit Manager Aarhus and Senior Construction Manager Per Falstie Jensen (PFJ), share some insights on the Grundfos Dormitory.

"The vision: The Grundfos Dormitory is a living laboratory, where Grundfos in collaboration with the dormitory and its occupants will test initiatives and technologies that can minimise energy and water consumption in the building."

The contractor

Why was this an interesting project for Sjælsø?

CR: I think it is fair to say that the construction industry in general is in a state of upheaval. In the area of resource savings an incredible amount has happened over the last five years or so. Buildings that were experimental only 4-5 years ago are now standard buildings. What is really interesting here is that Grundfos wants to take things a step further, to where we think the next energy savings will be found.

PFJ: Yes, by looking at the operation of the building. At Sjælsø we are involved in working on all the passive elements of a building. But today, the opportunities to further reduce the passive energy consumption of buildings are limited.

What about the project itself, with all the sensors, cabling etc.? Was it a more difficult or complicated project?

PFJ: No, not really. It did not take longer to complete. We had some extra meetings with the people at Grundfos and when they were in the building they followed our schedule pretty much.


Was the design process different?

CR: This building was designed from the inside and out. We started by asking how we could get the best possible apartments and what needs had to be met to do that. Then we began looking at how to arrange them in the best way. How the building should look was the final step. So this building was designed and built from the beginning with focus on the people who would be living in it. 

Click on the next tab to find out what the contractors think about the future of the Grundfos Dormitory.


"What will really make a difference is if we can alter the behavioural-based consumption. The Grundfos Dormitory will produce a statistical basis for energy consumption based on real people living in the building and then show how that energy consumption can be influenced."

Per Falstie Jensen

The future

A new building generally needs a year to settle in and dry out, i.e. a summer and winter. In the case of the Grundfos Dormitory, this time is being utilised to gather data and establish a baseline for energy consumption throughout the building and apartments. This information will be available for the residents, initially on a website. However, the information will be made more appealing as the project progresses, for example via smart phone apps.

Test bed
Using the Dormitory as a test bed, Grundfos will be responsible for experimenting with information and motivation to promote more efficient occupant behaviour by avoiding no-value consumption and the like, but without compromising occupant comfort. Grundfos is planning to develop and test technologies for energy and water optimisation in areas such as energy recovery from wastewater, optimal demand based hot water recirculation and optimal demand-based heating.

What influence do you think the Grundfos Dormitory can have?

CR: What I think this project can deliver is information. The initiatives that Grundfos are implementing here will help identify significant savings opportunities by finding the right initiatives. It might well turn out to be simple to do. The thing is, nobody has really done this before. That is what I think is really exciting about the project. 

I think that, to take one example, a measure such as installing a tablet in some apartments to visualise actual energy consumption could be interesting. That is one of the measures Grundfos could introduce, which I find particularly interesting. 

PFJ: And of course, we want to hear about the results and find out whether there are aspects that we can implement in projects and buildings that Sjælsø are involved in.

Find out more about the building by clicking on the next tab.

"I think that we will experience a few ‘aha’ moments with the Grundfos Dormitory when we find out where consumption of energy, and also water, originates."

Carsten Raundahl

The building

The Grundfos Dormitory comprises 159 apartments with room for just over 200 students located on a prime site in the newly developed harbour area of the city right beside the marina. Aarhus is a popular city for students; 50,000 of the city’s 315,000 inhabitants are students on one of the 150 different education programmes on offer. The building complies with the Danish Low-energy Class 2015 requirements, which demands a 25% reduction in energy consumption compared to standard regulations.


What is being measured?
In each apartment, 10 sensors measure the temperature, level of CO2 and relative humidity. Other sensors measure electricity consumption, and heat via the radiators, as well as hot and cold water, including temperature, pressure and flow of both cold and warm water. The same measurements are recorded for the building as a whole, plus factors such as outside temperature, wind and solar level.

More than pumps
The Grundfos Dormitory demonstrates Grundfos’ intent to be more than just a pump manufacturer. Grundfos is interested in whole buildings and in optimising all resources in buildings. The Grundfos Dormitory will contribute to gathering knowledge about resource optimisation and, in particular, user behaviour and how to influence and motivate users to save resources and reduce consumption. This is being done on an open platform and in cooperation with universities and other interested parties, who will share the knowledge gained about resource consumption on both a whole building and individual user level.


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