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MAX IV Combines High-Tech Laboratory with High-Tech Sustainability

MAX IV is a world-leading accelerator physics laboratory for research into synchrotron radiation. It is also unique in its ambitious sustainability aims. Its smart solutions in energy efficiency, biological diversity and waste management make it the first building to receive the BREEAM-SE environmental classification.

MAX IV is a world-leading facility in the field of accelerator physics that is available for use by scientists from universities and industry around the world. It also houses research projects in biology, physics, chemistry and environmental science, as well as geology, engineering and pharmacology. What’s more, MAX IV is at the centre of an emerging city district in northern Lund. Once the district is complete, a total of 50,000 people will live and work in the area, which is also home to the ESS research facility and Science Village. This means that MAX IV will have a significant impact on the city of Lund and its 125,000 residents.

The exciting high-tech research projects taking place here haven’t stopped MAX IV from also focusing on making the facility as sustainable as possible. For instance, it reuses energy from renewable resources, recycling the excess heat via the city’s district heating system and, in exchange, receiving cooling water for its accelerator equipment.

Reusing heat in the district heating network

MAX IV’s cooling system includes three different systems at different temperatures. The system with the lowest temperature is primarily used for cooling buildings and server rooms. The second-coolest system is used for cooling parts of the scientific equipment and maintaining a stable temperature in the accelerator building. Finally, the system with the highest temperature is used for supplying heat to the plant. All of the heat that’s removed by the cooling systems is reused in Lund’s district heating network. Since 2019, some of the heat has been reused in the world’s largest low-temperature district heating network, described in a separate article on this website.

Several sustainability classifications

Besides the heating and cooling systems, the facility has LED lights in all buildings, controlled ventilation, green roofs, solutions for storing and delaying storm water, and has made environmental improvements to support local wildlife. The construction process itself was designed to meet ambitious environmental goals such as low energy consumption, minimum waste and waste management. As a result, MAX IV has attained Green Building, Miljöbyggnad Guld and BREEAM Outstanding certification, and it was the first building to receive the BREEAM-SE classification.

Ensuring biological diversity on site

The sustainability ambitions include not only the buildings but also their surroundings. To ensure the area can be used for farming once the synchrotron laboratory is decommissioned, the building process included a ‘cut-and-fill’ strategy. All excavated material has been kept on site and used to create varied landscaping with hills and slopes, which also prevents vibrations in the ground that could have an influence on experiments.

To boost the biological diversity of the site, the slopes have been sown with a mix of seeds from the nearby nature reserve, and rainwater ponds with wetland vegetation have been constructed. These nature-based solutions are designed to store and delay storm water from both annually recurring storms and once-in-a-century storms.

The national MAX IV laboratory is hosted by Lund University and its main funder is the Swedish Research Council. It’s an interesting example of creating a high-tech environment with sustainability at the heart of the research, facilities and the surrounding infrastructure.


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