Ciência Viva ~Pavilhão do Conhecimento 🇵🇹

Ciência Viva “Pavilhão do Conhecimento”, a Science Center interacting with a network of Ciencia Viva Clubs, Ciência Viva Centres, Ciência Viva Farms and Ciência Viva Schools.

ADOPTING THE NEB|LAB CONCEPT: As a science centre, the Ciência Viva Pilot Site aims to foster the renovation of buildings as enablers of the New European Bauhaus in the context of informal education. This pilot, by showcasing the NEB|LAB approach and its solutions, expects to set a replicable example for other Ciência Viva Centers in Portugal, in addition to science centres across the EU. The transformation into a zero-energy building is expected to influence the behaviour of employees and visitors from all ages, genders and socioeconomic backgrounds, and subsequently, the planned renovation will directly affect the energy grid of the area.

Sector: Non-formal education

District buildings portfolio: Science Center Building

Target groups: Science centre visitors, staff and stakeholders (such as external collaborators from academic institutions and the Network of Ciência Viva Centres).


Main Characteristics & Motivation


Ciência Viva, the Portuguese National Agency for Scientific and Technological Culture, was created in 1996 to promote public awareness of science and technology and science education at a national level, with a particular emphasis on young people. Starting up as a unit of the Ministry of Science and Technology, it is nowadays an association, which includes public bodies and research institutes as members. The Agency promotes and supports science education projects at schools, placements for secondary school students in research laboratories during the holidays, and summer science activities for the public. 

Since its creation, Ciência Viva has been developing activities along three different and complementary streams:

  • Science education (schools)

  • Public awareness of science (citizens) 

  • A national network of science centres.

The Pavilion of Knowledge in Lisbon is the largest science centre in Portugal. It receives around 270,000 visitors per year. It is also the headquarters of Ciência Viva, coordinating a network of science centres across the country and a network of Ciencia Viva Clubs, Ciência Viva Farms and Ciência Viva Schools. Ciência Viva’s network of 21 science centres, in collaboration with universities and local authorities, act as a platform that drives regional development across scientific, cultural and economic dimensions.

In 2020, the Pavilion of Knowledge, in collaboration an external environmental consultant, developed a Sustainability Strategy and Sustainability Plan encompassing environmental, social and economic dimensions, spread over distinct thematic axes (energy, resources, waste management, transport, well-being and sustainability of human resources and internal/external awareness). In total, the plan defined 72 measures to be implemented, of which 13 are related to energy savings:

  1. Obtain energy from all renewable sources (i.e. 100% green energy)

  2. Install solar panels for energy production for internal consumption

  3. Investigate a green energy option for external space

  4. Reassess the opening hours of the Pavilion of Knowledge regularly

  5. Reconcile cleaning schedules with schedules for lighting the Pavilion of Knowledge, avoiding periods of unnecessary lighting

  6. Introduce a purchasing policy that opts for more ecological equipment, namely with sustainability certification

  7. Check and explain the air conditioning system settings to the team

  8. Evaluate the option of insulating some areas of the Pavilion of Knowledge, to avoid heat loss

  9. Introduce motion or presence sensors where possible and reassess the timing of current motion sensors

  10. Evaluate and adjust the operation of the windbreaker at the entrance of the store

  11. Insert lighting switches into large areas

  12. Check and explain system electric settings to the responsible team

  13. Optimize water pumps to improve energy efficiency

Following the Sustainability Plan and the Energy Performance Assessment, throughout a national funding programme to support environmental projects (“Fundo ambiental”), Ciência Viva has been successfully granted funding to execute the measures listed above (specifically 1, 2 and 3).

The programs and projects, to which Ciência Viva is dedicated, are aligned with the growing global environmental concern together with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all UN members in 2015. Furthermore, the current renovation plan towards a Green Zero Energy Science Center aims to act as a reference renovation project for the area, at national and international level.

Pilot concept description

The planned interventions in the Ciência Viva provide an opportunity to promote informal science education and activities addressing sustainability. For example, science centre visitors can experience real-world situations, based on hands-on learning and training opportunities to reduce energy consumption and opt for sustainable choices. Furthermore, this is an opportunity to engage their interest in activities related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and demonstrates to the community the commitment of the science centre to sustainability, throughout:


1) The installation of a photovoltaic solar system to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In a Mediterranean country such as Portugal, solar energy is a source of energy that is abundant, sustainable and renewable. The installation of a photovoltaic solar system in Ciência Viva allows significant savings in electricity bills of the building and reduces the overall carbon footprint of the community. Although the initial investment is high, the energy produced can pay for the system within a few years. At the same time, the unused open space of the roof, is ideal to install higher numbers of solar panels and increase energy production.


2) The change of external lighting to LEDs reduces electricity use and costs. LED lights are one of the latest developments in the lighting industry and are up to 90% more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs. The energy efficiency and longer lifespan of LED technology hold the potential to change the way educational buildings brighten their facilities by reducing the cost of electricity and overall energy use. LEDs also perform better in cold temperatures during winter, emit almost no heat, and most of the light they emit is within the visible spectrum. LED lights are more expensive than traditional lighting, but the investment in LEDs can be paid within a few years. Ciência Viva will be fully equipped with LED technology, securing a better indoor lighting environment together with an improved environmental performance. 


3) Optimization of the HVAC system to reduce thermal needs (cooled and heated water). The main purpose of HVAC systems is to provide a good, healthy and comfortable indoor environment. However, HVAC energy consumption accounts for a significant part of the energy use in buildings. The renovation of this system in Ciência Viva, based on technological improvements, can significantly contribute to energy reduction, while indoor air quality is maintained or improved.


Overall, the renovation of Ciência Viva aims to improve the sustainability of the building and reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and resource use, contributing to climate neutrality and net-zero emissions by 2050. On the other hand, building on these interventions, Ciência Viva will work as an “open innovation ecosystem” integrating research and innovation processes to:

  • Empower citizens with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes needed to contribute to environmental protection and to a more sustainable society;
  • Inform citizens about European initiatives, such as the The European Green Deal and The New European Bauhaus;
  •  Encourage schools, local communities and stakeholders to work together for mobilizing resources to foster environmental actions
  • Develop hands-on experiences/activities/actions that show the transformation of the Pavilion of knowledge into a green building

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