SmartLIFE: an innovative approach to promote sustainable construction in Europe

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 1 December 2004



(2004), "SmartLIFE: an innovative approach to promote sustainable construction in Europe", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 5 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

SmartLIFE: an innovative approach to promote sustainable construction in Europe

A new European project will look at innovative ways of applying the concepts of sustainability in the construction sector. The project, called SmartLIFE, is a partnership between three EU regions – the UK, Germany and Sweden, which aims at delivering solutions to some of the common sustainability problems faced in European growth areas. It is funded by the Interreg IIIB Programme (North Sea), over a period of 42 months (Jan 2004-June 2007) and with a budget of approximately Euro 9 million, being the largest pilot project of this scale in Europe today.Bodies working together in SmartLIFE include not only universities, but also central government agencies, local authorities charged with spatial planning in the partner countries, local training providers and private bodies such as developers and building systems suppliers. It is an innovative pilot project led by Cambridgeshire County Council, with partners in the cities of Hamburg (Germany) and Malmö (Sweden). Each city faces very similar growth related challenges. The project’s main aim is address three challenges of housing delivery in growth areas:

  • Affordability.

  • Sustainability/energy efficiency.

  • Skills/capacity shortages in the construction industry.

To this purpose, partners work closely, sharing expertise and overcoming obstacles to innovative sustainable construction.

The project’s vision is to unlock strategic solutions to sustainable growth area management and sustainable communities, combining the set up of transnational infrastructures with a cross-sectoral approach linking public awareness, education and training in respect of modern methods of construction and environmental protection.

In addition, the strategic aim of SmartLIFE will be to develop and implement an innovative approach to facilitating sustainable communities in the North Sea Region. Transnational polycentric development and spatial planning thinking will be advanced at all levels of governance by encouraging a grassroots interaction of various stakeholders to influence business practices and policy makers. SmartLIFE will recognise and incorporate various planning policy and practices within the European partnership and identify a route through planning regimes. It will also bring together educators and planners to challenge traditional (national) methods of delivery by demonstrating SmartLIFE transnational approaches.

By promoting social inclusion and community development, along with the other aims, it is believed that SmartLIFE can be elevated to a transnationally recognised position to promote sustainable spatial planning and transfer knowledge, foster economic and socially cohesive development in the North Sea region and elsewhere. Most importantly, the project aims to deliver effective, practical and concrete outputs from raising the skills level of the targeted population, increasing the acceptability of modern construction methods, promoting sustainability in growth areas, and providing increasing capacity to deliver EU sustainable development targets.

In concrete terms, the project aims to:

  • Develop a coherent and coordinated approach to sustainable growth area management.

  • Establish a transnational network of SmartLIFE business centres that will act as European delivery and dissemination hubs for the project.

  • Provide environmental, technical support and financial advice to local people who are engaged in community self-build and in sustainable approaches to construction.

  • Increase skills and capacity in the local construction workforce by developing and implementing transnational programmes that provide training in modern methods of construction, thus contributing to the reduction of unemployment in the partner regions.

  • Utilise transnational experiences in various aspects of training, construction and development to promote the adoption of best practice among the partners.

  • Design an effective communications campaign to promote and disseminate the SmartLIFE approach, the cross-sectoral partnership and the Interreg programme.

  • Develop a comprehensive strategy for fortifying and extending SmartLIFE beyond its Interreg lifespan.

Further details on the project are available at:

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