FME ZEN - The Research Centre on Zero Emission Neighbourhoods in Smart Cities

The ZEN Centre's aim

The Research Centre on Zero Emission Neighbourhoods in Smart Cities (FME ZEN Centre) will enable the transition to a low carbon society by developing sustainable neighbourhoods with zero greenhouse gas emissions. The Centre will speed up decarbonisation of the building stock (existing and new), use more renewable energy sources and create positive synergies among the building stock, energy, ICT and mobility systems, and citizens.

The Centre's research activities are organised within six interdisciplinary work packages 

WP1 – Analytical Framework for design and planning of ZEN

Goal: To develop definitions, targets and benchmarking for ZEN, based on customised indicators and data (quantitative + qualitative); life cycle analysis methodology for energy and emissions at neighbourhood scale; a citizen-centred architectural and urban toolbox for design and planning of ZEN, incl. visualisation and decision support.

WP2 – Policy measures, innovation and business models

Goal: To evaluate possible transition pathways towards ZEN consisting of integrated studies of policy measures, different forms of public-private collaboration, different financial and business models and instruments as well as improved innovation processes.

WP3 – Responsive and energy efficient buildings

Goal: To create cost effective, responsive, resource and energy efficient buildings by developing low carbon technologies and construction systems based on lifecycle design strategies.

WP4 – Energy flexible neighbourhoods

Goal: To develop knowledge, technologies and solutions for the design and operation of energy flexible neighbourhoods.

WP5 – Local energy system optimization within a larger system

Goal: To develop and apply methodologies that identify the socio-economic optimal operation and expansion of energy systems within demarked areas.

WP 6 – Pilot projects and living labs

Goal: To realise at least seven pilot projects for ZEN concepts in Norway that will serve as: innovation hubs for co-creation between researchers and building professionals, property developers, municipalities, energy companies, building owners, and users; living labs to verify, document and optimize the real-life performance of the solutions developed in the ZEN Centre; lighthouse projects to learn, inspire, and disseminate ZEN-related knowledge.

ZEN Pilot projects/ Living Labs

The total population involved in the seven proposed pilot projects is approximately 30 000 people and the built floor area includes more than 1 million m2.

Oslo Municipality: Furuset

The project will include building upgrades and new builds, a smart thermal micro-grid and both public and private actors. 

Bergen Municipality: Zero Village Bergen

The project will include 6-800 homes, a kindergarten and commercial buildings. ByBro AS is developing the project in collaboration with BKK.  A local heating system and solar energy are included. Electric mobility will be an important factor. 

Elverum Municipality: Ydalir

A new neighbourhood that will include approximately 1000 homes will be developed over a 10-15 year period. A school and kindergarten will be built in the neighbourhood. Elverum tomteselskap is the property owner. Plans for the area include the extensive use of wood, and smart mobility. 

Trondheim Municipality: Knowledge Axis, NTNU Campus

The project will include the revitalisation of Elgsetergate, new buildings and upgrades, local and district heating and shared usage. 

Bodø Municipality: Airport Area

An area of 2,600 acres is planned released from the airport that can accommodate the city's need for new homes and jobs for the next 50 years. 12,500 homes and 15,000 jobs are expected. 

Steinkjer Munipality: Residential area                                                                     

Remodelling or replacement of the Norwegian broadcasting (NRK) building. The area will include a kindergarten and 10-12 homes. Aspects included are energy exchange, a communal energy centre, recycling and smart mobility. 

Evenstad: Campus


Statsbygg and the Hedmark University College are central actors in what will be a Mini ZEN project. Buildings included are the new administration and education building and student housing built to ZEB standard. A CHP system with gasification of wood chips, solar cells and solar heating are included. 

ZEN Laboratories

The ZEN Centre will continue to develop and use the laboratory structure developed by the Research Centre on Zero Emission Buildings

ZEB Flexible Lab office building, NTNU Campus

ZEB Flexible Lab will completed in 2020, and function as a full-scale office and laboratory building where NTNU and SINTEF will test zero-emission technologies.

Contact: Terje Jacobsen and Arild Gustavsen  



ZEB Residential Living Lab, NTNU Campus

The ZEB Living Laboratory is used to study a combination of technologies and design strategies in a real world living environment that enables the interaction with user needs and response.

Contact: Ruth Woods Ruth and                                        Thomas Berker


ZEN Partners




NTNU at the Faculty for Architecture and Design is the host institution, and will lead the centre along with SINTEF.

Arild Gustavsen

Centre Director

Mobil: 993 63 674

Terje Jacobsen

Research Director

Mobil: 416 64 33

Work Package Leaders


WP1 – Analytical Framework for design and planning of ZEN          Annemie Wyckmans



WP2 – Policy measures, innovation and business models        

Asgeir Tomasgard



WP3 – Responsive and energy efficient buildings      

Judith Thomsen


WP4 – Energy flexible neighbourhoods        

Igor Sartori


WP5 – Local energy system optimization within a larger system       

Ove Wolfgang



WP 6 – Pilot projects and living labs

Inger Andresen

Duration: 2016-2024


•   R&D partners and Industry: 207 mill. NOK

     over a period of eight years

•  The Norwegian Research Council: 176 mill. NOK

     over a period of eight years