Building as living lab - Buildings as a living lab for climate-neutral, needs-based and affordable housing

Within ÖWG, climate protection and sustainability are strategically anchored in renovation and densification projects. A comprehensive, climate-neutral renovation concept is being developed for a specific pilot property in Graz in an open, co-creative innovation process. The building becomes a living lab in which new solutions are tested in the everyday lives of the residents.

Short Description



Starting point / motivation

The housing sector is of great importance for the energy transition. Without a substantial increase in the annual renovation rates in the building stock, a significant reduction in energy consumption and the Paris climate protection goals will not be achieved.

Within ÖWG Wohnbau, there have been increased efforts and also objectives in the area of climate protection for several years, but these require further development and strategic anchoring. The topic of climate neutrality and climate change adaptation must be examined in all facets (decarbonisation of heating and electricity supply, green and blue infrastructure, material ecology, economical use of the resource soil, climate protection at resident level, mobility, life cycle considerations, etc.).

The energy transition requires innovative solutions. Innovation comes from new approaches and actors working together in unusual constellations and new settings. Planning processes need to be opened up and stakeholders and end-users (residents) need to be involved.

Contents and goals

The aim of the exploratory project is to strategically anchor climate protection, sustainability and resource conservation in renovation/expansion and densification projects and to develop a comprehensive, climate-neutral renovation concept for a concrete pilot property in the urban area (city of Graz), which will subsequently also be implemented.

Pilot Object

From today's perspective, in addition to the comprehensive, climate-neutral renovation (decarbonisation) and the consideration of economic issues (affordability, new business models for flexible consumer behaviour), the following problem areas or renovation topics are addressed, which show different potentials for testing in everyday life:

  • Climate protection in the everyday life of residents: Raising awareness, activating and building knowledge - Establishing sharing, exchanging, passing on, repairing
  • Heat in the city / urban heat islands: development and testing of prototypes of green infrastructure or nature-based solutions, involvement of residents in the maintenance of green infrastructure (under professional guidance).
  • Reorientation of communication between property management and residents: making roles and tasks transparent, establishing new communication channels, strengthening mutual trust.
  • Community facilities as an instrument for strengthening neighbourly networks: participatory programming and design/installation of community spaces, consideration of new forms of living and working, definition of uses and usage procedures, rules of play


With the project, instruments of open innovation are applied to challenges around innovative, climate-friendly, sustainable, needs-based and affordable housing. Innovative solutions for the identified problem areas of renovation are generated through open co-creation processes - with the involvement of stakeholders from science, business and society - jointly evaluated and tested in the later implementation - whenever possible - in real everyday living.

The residents are thus given the opportunity to actively shape their living environment. They take on the role of idea providers, co-developers, test and feedback persons and the building becomes a living lab - a space for experimentation and possibility.

These opening and integration processes can create innovations and added value and also strengthen the necessary acceptance of renovation and densification processes. The building as a living lab thus provides valuable practical tests and enables joint learning between the actors involved (ÖWG, living lab partners, residents).

Expected results

The results of the exploratory study are

  • a comprehensive redevelopment concept including monitoring for the pilot property, which is to be implemented as a living lab, and
  • strategic definitions and new process flows within ÖWG for future renovation and densification projects.

Project Partners

Project management

ÖWG - Österreichische Wohnbaugenossenschaft gemeinnützige registrierte Genossenschaft mit beschränkter Haftung

Project or cooperation partners

  • StadtLABOR - Innovationen für urbane Lebensqualität GmbH
  • AEE - Institut für Nachhaltige Technologien

Contact Address

DI Sandra Inninger
Moserhofgasse 14
A-8010 Graz
Tel: +43 (316) 8055-413