Entra Eiendom, Skanska, architects Snøhetta, the environmental organization ZERO, and the aluminium company Hydro are entering into an agreement to build Norway's first energy-positive office building. The new alliance, Powerhouse, plans to present its first building project in the summer of 2011.
In November 2010, ZERO and Hydro began looking for partners who could help realize a showcase energy-neutral building in Norway.
With the establishment of the Powerhouse alliance, which includes Snøhetta, Skanska and Entra, ambitions are even higher. The partners want to create a building that is both energy-positive and commercially viable.
The primary goal is to build an energy-positive office building in Norway, which will create a foundation for other energy-positive building projects.
"We're looking forward to soon be able to present and realize the first energy-positive office building in Norway. We are well under way in identifying concrete opportunities, and hope to be able to present the first project this summer," says Kyrre Olaf Johansen, managing director of Entra Eiendom, which is one of Norway's largest property companies.
The partners in Powerhouse want to develop an office building that over the course of the building's life will produce more renewable energy than consumed during the production of materials, construction, operations and eventual demolition. Powerhouse will challenge existing construction conventions and develop groundbreaking concepts for energy-positive buildings under commercial conditions.
Challenging Norwegian climate
It is a challenge to build an energy-positive office building in Norway. Cold winters and warm summers present hurdles not found in many other parts of the world. Norwegian sun conditions and seasonal variations mean that the solutions cannot rest heavily on electricity production from solar cells.
So Powerhouse will look for other solutions, like heat pumps, solar collectors and new technology for generating renewable energy. In Norway there are also significant challenges related to delivering surplus electricity to the grid - which is critical to the energy-positive nature of the building.
With all of these challenges, the Powerhouse team reckons that few other places in the world are more demanding in realizing an energy-positive office building. Powerhouse will be addressing all these issues, and if successful will have met just about all the challenges facing an energy-positive building project anywhere in the world.
Buildings account for about 40 percent of the world's energy consumption and climate-related emissions - nearly twice as much as all emissions combined from the transportation sector. The Norwegian Parliament decided in 2008 that the country's long-term goal was to become a low-emission society. Energy-positive buildings would certainly contribute to that goal.
There are a number of buildings in Europe that are very energy-efficient, and even can produce more energy than they use, but there is no such building in Norway today. Powerhouse will try to show that an energy-positive office building is possible here, too. The goal is that a successful showcase project will result in not just one such building, but many energy-positive buildings to be proud of.