Norway’s construction industry and the climate / Energy / The Foreigner

Norway’s construction industry and the climate. Norway is one country pushing towards climate-friendly buildings. Affected by the oil price dip and as a signatory to the Paris Agreement, its buildings of the future will be even greener. The Nordic nation is no stranger to passive houses. Hilde Nykamp at the University of Oslo’s Centre for Technology Innovation and Culture divides the push towards these into three periods. 1998-2003 was called the “eco-building” period, 2004-2008 saw the “low energy” house period, with the “passive house” period beginning in 2009. According to Professor Bjørn R. Sørensen at the Energy Technology Research Group, Buildings and Energy Program area at northern Norway’s Narvik University College, authorities are eying 2020 as a year by which technical regulations would bring passive house specifications into play.

climate, globalwarming, greenhousegases, co2, emissions, building, construction, climatechange



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Norway’s construction industry and the climate

Published on Thursday, 26th October, 2017 at 12:19 under the energy category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 4th November 2017 at 12:25.

Norway is one country pushing towards climate-friendly buildings. Affected by the oil price dip and as a signatory to the Paris Agreement, its buildings of the future will be even greener.

On-site building at Campus Ås
On-site building at Campus Ås
Photo: Statsbygg/Trond Isaksen


The Nordic nation is no stranger to passive houses. Hilde Nykamp at the University of Oslo’s Centre for Technology Innovation and Culture divides the push towards these into three periods. 1998-2003 was called the “eco-building” period, 2004-2008 saw the “low energy” house period, with the “passive house” period beginning in 2009.

According to Professor Bjørn R. Sørensen at the Energy Technology Research Group, Buildings and Energy Program area at northern Norway’s Narvik University College, authorities are eying 2020 as a year by which technical regulations would bring passive house specifications into play.

Officials’ goals include reducing energy consumption in buildings by 10 terrawatt hours (TWh) by then, and halving energy demand for buildings (to 40 TWh) by 2040.

“In five to ten years, it will be common for buildings to produce a large share of the energy needed,” Synnøve Sandberg, head of Statsbygg’s construction department, tells The Foreigner.

A 60-year lifetime

Statsbygg, a public sector administration company which is based in Norway capital Oslo, is currently constructing a new Model of the new veterinary building
Model of the new veterinary building
PG Campus Ås/Statsbygg
veterinary facility at Campus Ås (in Norwegian only) in eastern Norway’s Akershus County.

It will house the Norwegian Veterinary Institute and Norway’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine – part of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

The new-build will have a total area of about 63,100 square metres (some 679,200 square feet). Construction began some four years ago, and expected completion date is 2020. The building, which has an estimated design lifetime of 60 years, will be Norway’s largest passive house to date.

Keeping the heat in

Celsuis/Kelvin thermometer
Celsuis/Kelvin thermometer
Creative Commons License
Statsbygg’s head of project Erik Antonsen lists several climate-friendly solutions. Seven-layer glazing in one of the buildings yet to be constructed is one that is currently under consideration. The firm aims to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on their projects by 30 per cent.

“The main building is very well-insulated and is built to, and approved as being passive house standard. The entire construction’s U-value, which is the coefficient for heat transfer – or heat loss – through walls and windows is 0.8 watts per square metre Kelvin,” he says.

Kelvin, an absolute thermodynamic temperature scale which uses absolute zero as its null point, is not like Fahrenheit or Celsius, and does not use degrees. Kelvin is physical sciences’ primary unit of temperature measurement. The scale is named after Glasgow-born physicist and engineer William Thomson, First Baron Kelvin (1824–1907).

A CO2 emissions-buster

“The new building also has a heat recovery system that recovers heat from ventilation air,” states Statsbygg’s Erik Antonsen. “Parts of the building have a heat pump, which will give us a 70 percent recovery amount. All heating in the building comes from a Laying bubble deck
Laying bubble deck
Statsbygg/Trond Isaksen
district heating plant situated next door. It’s CO2 neutral, as it’s based on forest woodchips.”

The company also uses low carbon emission concrete for limiting CO2 emissions. Moreover, parts of the building’s floors are cast from a type of casting called bubble deck.

“Less concrete means less weight. Moreover, bubble deck has some advantages compared to traditional concrete elements that are used when building blocks, as it’s better regarding distribution of forces in both directions,” Mr Antonsen says.

Planting trends

Parts of the building are literally green, with an 18,000-square-metre (roughly 193,750 square feet) of green roof made from a flowering plant called Sedum – in 2013, politicians in Oslo considered introducing grass on roofs due to the increased risk of flooding from storms. This was similar to a system operating in the Danish capital of Copenhagen.

“Sedum is a kind of mountain plant that can tolerate the rough Norwegian climate and is supposed not to need any maintenance,” comments Mr Antonsen.

Campus Ås' Sedum roof
Campus Ås' Sedum roof
Statsbygg/Trond Isaksen
So how is the building constructed for the future?

“It is a future-oriented building in comparison to today’s standards. I also believe that our building is setting a trend for future constructions.”

“Achievable”

Trends are not just about buildings, though. Norway-based environmental organisation Bellona says that they are developing an overarching concept for emission-free construction sites, talking to developers, contractors, and equipment manufacturers.

Christian Eriksen, Senior Advisor, Energy, outlines some new measures which are designed to go one better. These include making renewable energy carriers available on-site by using more electricity and district heating instead of fossil fuels for processes, using more environmentally-friendly materials for lower emissions in production (e.g. recycled steel, and solid wood), better thinking around transport of surplus masses (soil/rock/gravel), and improved waste management and recycling.

Bellona's Christian Eriksen
Bellona's Christian Eriksen
Maya Boutroue Vedeld/Bellona
“Contractors in Norway are generally quite good at recycling – often a criterion in tenders,” comments Mr Eriksen. He adds that feedback from contractors says that Bellona’s list of measures “is all achievable in the near future.”

Ask an environmental scientist

Dr Ilan Kelman, a former researcher at the Oslo-based Centre for Climate Research (CICERO), points out that one cannot always judge a book by its cover when it comes to environmentally-friendly buildings, however.

“Norway generally has a strong reputation regarding climate-friendly buildings, domestically and internationally. How much this reputation is deserved, due to the actual record, depends.”

“Too frequently, including in an office environment, I have been too hot in short sleeves in the winter because the heating was up so high. Sometimes it is an individual choice and sometimes it is the building design. Similarly, my experience in Oslo Science Park (Forskningsparken), which was meant to be an environmental building, included some areas with air circulation problems and limited control to turn off lights when we did not need them,” he says.

Not all that glistens is sustainable

What are the most important environmental factors to consider when building?

Flood in town of Kvam, Gudbrandsdalen valley
Flood in town of Kvam, Gudbrandsdalen valley
Espen Braata
“The three main design ones to consider when building are location, materials, and systems. With regards to location, staying out of floodplains is typically good unless the building has significant built-in flood damage resistance measures.

“For materials, considering the entire life cycle, not just the carbon footprint, is essential. Other questions such as whether or not paints and other finishes off-gas, decay into other compounds, or run off into the environment due to wear-and-tear can be important,” explains Dr Kelman.

He also lists indoor climate control, water, waste management, and key measures in construction including occupant use patterns, life cycle, and ability to adjust.

“Too many buildings are designed for the designer, not for the user. It is not necessarily easy given the wide array of needs which users have. But it is pointless having a gorgeous building in a beautiful location which is thoroughly admired from the outside but which is uncomfortable or dangerous to use,” he remarks.

The road to somewhere      

Fossil fuel gives way to solar power
Fossil fuel gives way to solar power
Gerry Machen/Flickr
There are moves afoot to improve the Norwegian building industry’s environmental footprint. Significant actors in the property sector have signed a so-termed roadmap towards an emissions-free industry by 2050.

“One of the measures is to eliminate fossil fuels for heating. The roadmap also includes reducing emissions from the building process itself,” says Synnøve Sandberg, head of Statsbygg’s construction department. “The machines at work on the construction sites have not been much in focus in the past, due to the lack of alternative energy sources to fossil fuels.”

Advanced biofuels such as second generation biodiesel is also available as an alternative for large machines like excavators. The roadmap includes addressing reuse and recycling of building materials too.

“We need to have this [building materials’ reuse and recycling] in mind while planning new buildings. Architects and engineers will implement solutions to make decomposition of the building easier when the building reaches its end of life,” Ms Sandberg concludes.



Published on Thursday, 26th October, 2017 at 12:19 under the energy category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 4th November 2017 at 12:25.

This post has the following tags: climate, globalwarming, greenhousegases, co2, emissions, building, construction, climatechange.





  
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