19. Apr. 2018
Building a more sustainable future with the Powerhouse alliance
By collaborating with the Powerhouse alliance, Miris is able to play a vital role in the development of energy-positive buildings. But what does Powerhouse actually represent? We asked Powerhouse Managing Director, Rune Stene.
Despite the alliance only existing for a handful of years, it’s already developed several groundbreaking projects. Powerhouse Kjørbo, an office building located outside Oslo, has been awarded the BREEAM NOR environmental classification “Outstanding as built” – the highest of the classification system’s five levels. Powerhouse Brattørkaia, Norway’s first energy-positive office building, is currently under construction. Our very own Svart is also a Powerhouse project and will be the first energy positive hotel in the world.
“Easily put, Powerhouse is a collaboration that aims to create energy-positive buildings”, says Managing Director, Rune Stene.
“Our definition of energy positive buildings are buildings that produce more energy during its life cycle – set to sixty years – than the energy spent on materials, construction and operations.”
The partnership consists of five ambitious partners – the property company Entra, the entrepreneur Skanska, the environmental organization ZERO, Snøhetta architects, and the consulting company Asplan Viak – all entities with a strong environmental focus.
Early stages are vital
The alliance’s goals require close collaboration between a variety of disciplines from start to finish. In order to make sure everyone’s heard, all parties need to be heavily involved in the projects’ early stages.
Even the smallest details can create problems for the projects’ high energy standards, Stene explains:
“Let's say we’ve done a miscalculation on the soundproofing, and an expert tells you to start over again. Suddenly, you’re required to get new materials that eat up even more of the energy budget. So getting it right from the beginning is vital for the project to be a success.”
Inspiration to build better
The first stage of Powerhouse Kjørbo was completed in 2014. At completion, eight blocks were renovated, with added new solutions to make sure the building became energy-positive.
“Our measurements show that the building both consumes and produces energy according to our initial calculations. The project's success gave us inspiration to continue developing energy-positive buildings,” says Stene.
The success of a project is not only down to good planning. Stene adds that it’s just as vital for the users to adopt the building’s environmentally friendly solutions as early as possible, in order for them to actually have an effect:
“We had to dig deep to get the optimal solutions. After we finished the initial planning stages, there was still a lot to do to get to the finish line. It was first when the building had been used for some time that we could sit back and relax”.
Svart: A landmark in the Arctic
In February 2018, Miris launched the world’s first energy positive hotel by the Arctic Circle, Svart Glacier Hotel, in cooperation with our close architectural partner Snøhetta and the rest of the alliance.
Building the world’s first energy positive hotel is a tough job to pull off in the first place. Decide to build it in the harsh environments of Northern Norway, and the job becomes almost impossible.
Nevertheless, Stene is still pleased with the project’s progress so far, which he owes to the ability to utilize the hotel’s surroundings:
“Northern Norway has a lot of sunlight during the summer, which helps. In addition, Svart is located close to a lake, letting the hotel extract heat from the water.”
In order to become energy positive after 60 years, choosing the right materials has been an important task.
“What functions should they have? What is the energy expenditure of each material? Luckily, Svart's building geometry allows us to use a lot of wood, which is energy friendly”, Stene explains.
In addition, the hotel’s roof will also be equipped with solar panels, delivered from nearby Glomfjord. Using local products is vital for the project to keep transportation costs and emissions to a minimum.
Stene is pleased with the process thus far and is looking forward to the developments ahead:
“It’s been very exciting to have an entity such as Miris on board. I’m very pleased that Miris acknowledges the Powerhouse alliance, and with it, the responsibility to build as environmentally friendly as possible.”