The man behind the first new office building in Norway that produces more energy than it consumes, is Emil Eriksrød – a young aspiring/inspiring real estate entrepreneur. And the world-changing part of the concept? It’s located in a tiny Norwegian town of only 35.000 people, which means these kind of buildings in reality could be feasible almost anywhere.
“This project proves that energy positive buildings can pay off commercially. It took us about a year to have the renters needed to make the building profitable. The world needs a lot of energy positive buildings. Hopefully this great building in our little town, can be the start of thousands of similar Powerhouses.” says Emil Eriksrød.
Two weeks ago, real estate developer Emil Eriksrød (33) launched his potentially world changing office building “Powerhouse Telemark”. When the unique 17 million USD diamond-shaped wonder is completed in February 2019 it will produce more energy than it consumes. More importantly it will not be located in Macau, Miami or Mumbai, but in the tiny Norwegian town of Porsgrunn. Population? Less than 35.000. The CEO of R8 Property, Eriksrød says,
“I hope we will be plagiarised and copied, replicated in all seven continents This building should do wonders in lowering the bar for daring to do both spectacular and environmentally forward buildings, hopefully in a combination. Just imagine, when Porsgrunn has the customer base for such a building, imagine how many other places that have the same potential. There are tens of thousands of cities with a bigger population in the world.”
Will this Norwegian 33 year old’s Powerhouse change the world?
Upon completion in early 2019, it will be the first new office building in Norway which produces more energy than it consumes and also the world’s northernmost energy-positive office building. The Powerhouse definition requires that is produces more clean and renewable energy than needed for construction, production and transportation of building materials and operation over a life cycle of 60 years and, if so, disposal.
Eriksrød has put together a strong team for his project. The architects are Snøhetta, an award-winning international Oslo- and New York-based architecture firm, famous for the Library of Alexandria and the Oslo Opera House. The Wall Street Journal named Snøhetta their “Architecture Innovator of the Year” for 2016. “Snøhetta did a great job in Oslo and Alexandria, but here in Porsgrunn they really outdid themselves”, says Eriksrød, only half-joking.
Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, founding partner in Snøhetta and professor in architecture at the University of Innsbruck, believes in Eriksrød’s prospects:
“Powerhouse Telemark will put Norway on the map when it comes to energy solutions and architecture. The future is all about thinking big, bold and long term, and we need someone to pave the way. With its innovative solutions and design, we believe this building will inspire commercial real estate developers worldwide to push the limits of what buildings can accomplish.”
The building is shaped by its surrounding conditions
“When we optimised the building to harvest solar energy, the result was the characteristic diamond shape”, explained Eriksrød. Solar energy harvesting is the main design driver for the project. Solar cells, heat exchangers and heat pumps will produce electricity and heat for the building.
If status quo in the construction world contain yes, the energy expenditure in buildings will be equal to the total energy consumption in the world today by 2050. EU has decided that all new buildings have to be near zero energy bulidings from 2020, which means that those buildings will have to produce nearly as much energy as they use. It is an ambitious goal. But it also creates new opportunities for those who dare to be part of the solutions. Like Emil.
“I am inspired by Norwegian Airlines’ CEO Bjørn Kjos, as the owner of the world’s youngest fleet of planes and thus low fuel costs, helps both the environment and the bottom line. Those who builds energy intensive commercial buildings today will not have customers for 10 years”, says Emil Eriksrød.
Powerhouse Telemark is a part of the Powerhouse-collaboration dedicated to building energy positive buildings. The collaboration consists of Entra Eiendom, Skanska, Snøhetta, the environmental NGO ZERO, the aluminium company Hydro, the aluminium profile company Sapa og the consulting firm Asplan Viak.
“Powerhouse Telemark designed by Snøhetta architects and the Powerhouse collaboration will become a landmark. The combination of extreme energy performance and a favourable indoor climate, low environmental impact and robust solutions at commercial terms requires a different approach than in most traditional building projects. Buildings that produce the same or a greater amount of energy than they consume could be an important contribution to reducing global energy consumption – and consequently also greenhouse gas emissions,” says Kim Robert Lisø, Chief Innovation Officer at Skanska and Managing Director of the Powerhouse collaboration.
Powerhouse Telemark is a flexible 11-story building at just over 6,500 square meters and a construction cost of about 17 million USD. Tenants will besides modern office facilities, foyer, gym and canteen have access to a unique viewpoint. The roof terrace on the top floor will be completely open on all sides, just surrounded by green climbing plants. And Eriksrød is toying with the idea of making the rooftop open to the public of his hometown.
“Let’s be honest, it will be one of the most spectacular roof terraces ever built”, says Eriksrød.
Photo illustrations courtesy of Loft Visual Group/Snøhetta. Renderings courtesy of Snøhetta.