World's "most environmentally-friendly office building" opens in Norway
An office building in Norway has been renovated to produce more energy that it consumes. Powerhouse Kjørbo is located near Oslo, and according to Powerhouse, it is Norway’s first energy-positive building and the first in the world to be renovated into an energy-positive structure.
Powerhouse is a consortium of firms aiming to develop energy-positive buildings. It comprises architecture firm Snøhetta, construction company Skanska, environmental organization ZERO, aluminum supplier Hydro and property management firm Entra Eiendom.
"As far as we know, this is the first building in the world that has been renovated into an energy-positive structure," says Ståle Rød, chairman of the Powerhouse consortium and CEO of Skanska Norway. "It is the unique collaboration we have had from the very start that has made this possible."
By Powerhouse's standards, an energy-positive building is "a building which generates more clean and renewable energy in its operational phase than what was used for the production of building materials, its construction, operation and disposal."
Powerhouse Kjørbo is actually two 2,600 square meter (27,986 sq ft) buildings on the Sandvika seafront in Bærum municipality. Their energy consumption prior to renovation was 650,000 kWh every year. Following the renovation, the energy requirements of the buildings are expected to be reduced to around 100,000 kWh per year in total.
Energy is generated by solar panels. It is expected that the solar array will produce over 200,000 kWh annually, with any excess energy being supplied to the power grid. Heat loss, meanwhile, is minimized by using tight-fitting walls, ceilings and windows, as well as insulation. Exterior sun shading and exposed concrete decks are two means of reducing temperature in the summer.
"Powerhouse Kjørbo illustrates that it is possible to construct a building that is both environmentally correct and profitable, and this makes us tremendously proud," says chief executive officer Klaus-Anders Nysteen of Entra Eiendom, which owns the building.
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Experience from here in the south of France with figures based on 10 years usage of solar power on a farm (much too expensive to run power cables so EDF supplied a solar station with battery backup). Even though the solar station was calculated to be large enough for 'normal' power usage and the batteries were there to give 3 days autonomy, it did not work without the addition of a 10kW diesel generator on auto start.
This is an office building in Norway, much further north with less daylight per year that is going to house a lot of people using, I assume, computers that might help with the heating in winter but not the cooling in summer. The sealed environment will require forced air changes or there will be health problems. The solar panels will require regular cleaning or their efficiency and output drops. I could go on but won't.
All in all it looks like a project that has been carefully dressed up to get grant money rather than the companies having to spend their own money.
It would be interesting to see the actual working figures in say 2 years time after full occupancy of the building and compare them with the paper figures of now. Maybe something for Stu to put in his diary.