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Promoting sustainability in the Swedish craft beer sector through Urban Living Labs

beer lab
A selection of craft beer from breweries in Skåne, Sweden

LUCSUS researchers are developing an Urban Living Lab approach to adress sustainability in the food, water, energy nexus through the case of craft beer sector in Sweden (Scania).

The LUCSUS researchers, Barry Ness, Darin Wahl and Christine Wamsler are working in a large transdisciplinary research project called GLOCULL, trying to build a link between global and local sustainability innovations, tying together on the ground sustainability experiments with larger national and international sustainability goals.

During the past year, the project has laid the groundwork for the evaluative framework to be tested in the living labs, as well as developed strategic approaches to bridge the diverse contexts of the labs through linking common key elements, vocabulary, and impact targets. At project workshops, the partners have presented and discussed nuances of each other’s living labs, making progress toward deepening the connection between the labs and creating pathways for learning and co-design. 

– At LUCSUS we have focused on how to further develop and promote the living lab approach through international academic collaboration, and promoting sustainability in the craft beer sector in the region. Through case study activities we have developed two pathways: the establishment and operationalization of sustainability principles for the regional craft beer sector, and the creation and testing of hydroponically-grown hops, says project coordinator Barry Ness.

In January LUCSUS hosted the second SustBeerLab event where 9 craft beer sustainability principles were presented to brewers in the region. The principles cover resource use and efficiency, with craft breweries using large amounts of water and energy in production, as well as the transport of ingredients to the facility and beverages from the facility. The principles also include social aspects, e.g. gender and cultural inclusivity, bringing awareness to the fact that craft brewing has largely been dominated by white males. 

During the spring they plan to build a small test facility at Brygghuset Finn in Landskrona to grow hops onsite, hydroponically, with ambitions to tie the hop growing to brewing process waste streams (e.g. heat, CO2). A hydroponic greenhouse will allow for a finer control of the growing conditions of the hops, with the aim to maximize productivity for each variety of hop. Meanwhile, by integrating waste heat and CO2 from beer production, it may be possible to increase efficient resource use onsite, as well as to lengthen the growing season to 2 or even 3 harvests per year. 

– In September 2019 we will continue with the next workshop, hosted by Leuphana University, in Lüneburg, Germany. We’re also planning several activities around the craft beer living lab as well as a launch of the sustainability principles and greenhouse hop growing trials, says Barry Ness.

About the project:

GLOCULL is an international and transdisciplinary project funded by the Sustainable Urbanisation Global Initiative (SUGI), which is established by the Belmont Forum and the Joint Programming Initiative Urban Europe (JPI) and supported by the European Commission.

The GLOCULL project will develop an extended Urban Living Lab methodology through a combination of local, transdisciplinary Living Lab experiments and local-global interactions. For this purpose, Urban Living Lab experiments will be conducted across the globe, in cities in the Global South and the Global North, thus representing a wide range of environmental, social and economic urban conditions. 

Visit the project webpage

Researchers at LUCSUS: Barry Ness,Darin Wahl and Christine Wamsler

Project partners: Maastricht University in The Netherlands, Stellenbosch University in South Africa, Arizona State University in the United States, Leuphana University in Germany, Lund University in Sweden, University of Sao Paolo in Brazil, and BOKU in Austria.

There are currently seven living labs up and running, one in each of the cities home to the project partners.


Listen to the Podcast Sustainable Beer Lab by the project team in Sweden

Sustainable beer Lab Podcast ( on Soundcloud)