Snøhetta designs energy-positive Powerhouse office

Following its energy-positive Powerhouse Brattørkaia last year, Snøhetta has completed another remarkably sustainable office in Norway in the same vein. Named Powerhouse Telemark, the firm calculates the building will produce more energy than it will require over its entire lifespan, including the energy used in construction and even its eventual demolition in decades to come.

Powerhouse Telemark is located in Porsgrunn in the county of Vestfold and Telemark. The building consists of 11 floors and Snøhetta embraced a principle of standardization to reduce unnecessary waste. Everything from the flooring to the office dividers and bathrooms look identical on each floor. The interior layout is also designed to be flexible and to adapt to future needs, and as well as office space, contains a gym, restaurant, and rooftop terrace.

“As part of the Powerhouse series, Powerhouse Telemark sets a new standard for the construction of environmentally sustainable buildings by reducing its yearly net energy consumption by 70 percent compared to similar new-construction offices, and by producing more energy than it will consume over its entire lifespan,” explains Snøhetta’s press release.

“Through standardized interior solutions and co-working spaces, tenants can scale their office spaces as needed, granting much needed flexibility in a global context where remote working solutions continue to increase in demand. The energy sector and building industry account for over 40 percent of global industry’s heat-trapping emissions combined. As the world’s population and the severity of the climate crisis continue to grow, precipitating global disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic, architects are challenged to work across industries to build more responsibly.”

In addition to its office space, Powerhouse Telemark contains a gym, restaurant, and rooftop terrace
In addition to its office space, Powerhouse Telemark contains a gym, restaurant, and rooftop terrace

Ivar Kvaal

The exterior of the building features an unusual skewed design, with a 45-degree tilt on the east-facing facade that hosts a photovoltaic canopy. This, along with the building’s photovoltaic cell covered south-facing facade, is calculated to produce a total of 256,000 kWh per year, which Snøhetta says is approximately 20 times the annual electricity use of an average Norwegian household. Surplus electricity will be sold back to the energy grid.

Powerhouse Telemark was built using sustainable materials. These include local wood, gypsum and carpet tiles composed of 70 percent recycled fishing nets. The wooden flooring is made from industrial parquet of ash from wooden debris.

Though it does have energy-efficient lighting systems, the building’s glazing is carefully situated to minimize artificial lighting requirements, including skylights. Like a Passivhaus, it’s also extremely well insulated and has a high level of airtightness, helping maintain a steady internal temperature. Additionally, an energy-efficient heating system makes use of geothermal wells dug 350 m (1,148 ft) below ground.

The project has received the BREEAM Excellent green building rating due to its energy-efficient design. It was commissioned by R8 Property and also involved Skanksa and Asplan Viak.

Source: Snøhetta

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