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Trondheim’s New ‘Energy Positive’ Landmark

The new energy positive building in Trondheim, Norway
Powerhouse Brattørkaia. Photo: synlig.no

A landmark new office building in Trondheim will create more energy than it consumes, according to the team behind it.

After years of construction, the new Powerhouse Brattørkaia is now officially open in Trondheim, Norway. Minister of Trade and Industry Torbjørn Røe Isaksen led the ceremony on August 30. The building has been in use for some time, however.

It's hard to miss the Powerhouse, which offers 18,200-square-metres of floorspace across eight floors with mezzanine and underground parking. Located on the waterfront, the building has quickly become a very visible landmark for the city, It's close to the railway station, Rockheim, Clarion Hotel & Congress, and cruise ship port.

Commuters and visiting tourists get a close-up view of the building as the roof slopes down towards the pedestrian footbridge that crosses the railway tracks.

Read more: Top things to do in Trondheim

The biggest energy-positive building in Norway

Powerhouse Brattørkaia is the newest and and biggest energy-positive building in the country. The partners behind the project hope it will spark greater momentum for a smart city movement that can slow down the impact of climate change.

It plays a part in this lofty ambition by generating more power over its lifetime than it consumes. One of the reasons for this is the incredible number of solar panels covering the entirety of the building's sloping roof:

Solar panel roof of Trondheim's Powerhouse
Drone photo: synlig.no

The roof slopes southward for maximum exposure to the sun throughout the year. But there's a lot more to creating an energy-positive building than solar panels. The attention to detail in the eco-friendly design began with the selection of materials. All construction material was carefully chosen and tracked through the sourcing process.

Step inside the building and that's where things start to get really clever. A special concrete helps to regulate the temperature. The office floors and walls are designed to efficiently circulate hot and cold air, which should slash unnecessary use of heating and cooling.

The building's waterfront location also means that seawater will be used to cool parts of it.

Using the excess energy in smart ways

Powerhouse Brattørkaia is expected to generate approximately 485,000 kWh of energy per year. According to Norwegian technology magazine Teknisk Ukeblad, more than half of that is excess energy, i.e. more than the building itself needs to operate.

Read more: Will Norway become Europe's green battery?

The excess energy generated will be used in smart ways to highlight future applications of such buildings. First and foremost, the excess energy will serve the power needs of the entire micro-neighbourhood of Brattørkaia.

Powerhouse Brattørkaia in Trondheim
Photo: Ivar Kvaal

The city of Trondheim recently launched a complete new transport system featuring a new fleet of electric and hybrid buses. Powerhouse Brattørkaia's energy surplus will also be used to charge some of the new electric buses waiting to start their routes from the waterfront.

Improving the traceability of sustainable energy between buildings, infrastructure and consumers is another goal of Powerhouse Brattørkaia. At the launch event, the spotlight fell on the partnership between Jaguar Land Rover and IOTA. The German foundation is focused on R&D of new distributed ledger technologies.

They demonstrated a proof of concept technology that allows people to follow the energy usage and provenance of the Jaguar I-Pace connected to the building through an electric charger.

“A lot of energy today, also renewables, is notoriously difficult to trace back to a point of origin. Particularly when you want the energy to be green, this can lead to frustration. In order to validate the energy’s origin, the Tangle, IOTA’s immutable distributed ledger technology is used to create a tamper-proof record of all transactions and sources,” said IOTA.

Norway's biggest energy-positive building
Powerhouse Brattørkaia from the waterfront. Photo: Ivar Kvaal

A multi-disciplinary team

The eye-catching project is the result of a collaboration between several partners. These include property development company Entra, construction and development company Skanska, environmental consultants ZERO, consulting firm Asplan Viak, and the award-winning architects from Snøhetta. The group had previously completed four similar projects, but they were much smaller in scope.

Skanska are among the anchor tenants of the new building. In fact, it will serve as their new regional headquarters.

“Working with the development and construction of buildings with as high climate ambitions as this building has is fully in line with our goal of being the leading green contractor. Of course, we are very pleased to be moving into such an environmentally friendly building with very good technical solutions,” said Skanska CEO, Ståle Rød.

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.

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