Powerhouse Telemark

Powerhouse Telemark

Dokkvegen 11, Porsgrunn, Norway | View Map
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SageGlass 2-fach Isolierglas Classic

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Powerhouse Telemark – a Sustainable Model for the Future of Workspaces

Snøhetta as Architects

Snøhetta Completes its 4th Energy Positive Powerhouse in Telemark, Norway – a Sustainable Model for the Future of Workspaces

Snøhetta, alongside collaborators R8 Property, Skanska and Asplan Viak, has completed its 4th energy positive building in the Powerhouse portfolio. 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% compared to similar new-construction offices, and by producing more energy than it will consume over its entire lifespan*. 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% 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 striving to keep our planet as healthy as possible, we must take this moment to prioritize sustainable design practices, and specifically consider how our work impacts human and non-human inhabitants alike. Although the gradual violence of the climate crisis might seem less acute compared to the rapid effects of viruses such as COVID-19, especially for those living in the global north, we as architects have a stake in the protection of our built and unbuilt environments. We need more industry-wide alliances such as Powerhouse to push industry standards for what is means to build sustainable buildings and cities, both on an economic, social and environmental scale,” says Founding Partner of Snøhetta, Kjetil Trædal Thorsen.

Situated in the historic industrial city of Porsgrunn in the county of Vestfold and Telemark, the new 11 story building marks a symbolic continuation of the district’s proud history as Telemark is home to one of the early 19th Century’s largest hydropower plants. Powerhouse Telemark indicates the area’s growing investment in the green economy, positioning the county as a leader in decarbonizing new construction. The south-east facing façade and roof of Powerhouse Telemark will generate 256 000 kWh each year, approximately twenty times the annual energy use of an average Norwegian household, and surplus energy will be sold back to the energy grid.

The skewed and slightly conical building features a clearly defined 45° tilting notch on the east-facing façade, giving it a clearly identifiable expression that stands out in the industrial context of the surrounding Herøya industry park. Inside, the building features a barception, office space, including two stories of co-working spaces, a shared staff restaurant, penthouse meeting spaces and a roof terrace overlooking the fjord. Two large staircases connect the building’s ground and top floors, from the reception area and all the way up to the staff restaurant and penthouse meeting rooms. A distinctive straight wooden staircase reveals itself at the ninth floor, visually tying the staff canteen and penthouse meeting room area together and leading visitors to the building’s roof terrace.

In obtaining the BREEAM Excellent** certification as proof of their bold sustainability ambitions, Powerhouses stand as beacons of sustainable design not only in their local communities, but also function as models for how the world can embrace sustainable architecture and design at large in the future.


An Energy Producing Façade and Roof

The building's striking 24° tilted roof gently slopes to surpass the extremities of the building’s volume, expanding the roof’s surface and ensuring a maximum amount of solar energy can be harvested both from the photovoltaic canopy and the building’s PV-cell clad south-facing façade.

To the west, north-west and north-east the building is clad with wooden balusters providing natural shading on the most sun exposed façade. Behind the wooden balusters the building is covered with Steni façade panels which give the building a unified expression. Functioning just as a passive house, the building is super insulated and features triple isolated windows throughout. The concrete slabs lend the building a density akin to that of a stone structure storing thermal heat during the day and slowly emitting heat during the evening. A low ex system with water loops in the border zones of each floor, assures that the building is efficiently cooled and heated through geothermal wells dug 350 meters below ground.

Powerhouse Telemark also utilizes a series of low-tech solutions to ensure that tenant comfort is prioritized, allowing the office building to be used to its full potential. The building’s gently skewed West-facing and South-East-facing facades allow for a maximum of daylight and shading while also generating views and flexible indoor spaces. To the North-East the building is leveled to accommodate for more traditional workspaces with enclosed offices. Throughout the building, small, secluded spaces are strategically moved away from sun exposed facades to reduce the need for cooling while also assuring that these spaces keep a comfortable temperature.


A Flexible and Environmentally Conscious Interior Solution

The interior design of the building is built upon a principle of standardization to reduce unnecessary waste as new tenants move into the building. The flooring, glass walls, office dividers, kitchenettes, lighting, and bathrooms have been given the same design, color, and materiality across all floors. Indeed, the flexibility of the interior solution of the building, combined with the building’s two story co-working space, allows for the client and future tenants to easily re-program the building and expand or downsize their businesses without needing to relocate. This means that the office space may transition from desk space to resource space, allowing for maximal utility of the space even when remote work scenarios changes the traditional office layout demands.

The material palette of Powerhouse Telemark is chosen for its environmentally sustainable qualities. Throughout, the building features sturdy materials known for resilience and low-embodied energy. This means using materials such as local wood, gypsum and environmental concrete which is left exposed and untreated. Everything from the kitchens to the carpet tiles and loose furniture are made from durable and high-quality materials. The carpet tiles are composed of 70% recycled fishing nets and the wooden flooring is made from industrial parquet of ash from wooden debris. Moreover, a specially designed foliating signage system allows for a certain amount of flexibility in tailoring the visual expression of the different office spaces without creating unnecessary waste that may be generated when brand specific signage is removed or produced.

To reduce the need for artificial lighting to an absolute minimum, the building has a conservative but efficient lighting system. The building’s roof also features vertical glass slots, allowing for daylight penetration on the three top floors. Moreover, the choice of loose furniture with light surfaces allow for a subtle complement of the interior lighting.

Just like its ambitious sister projects Powerhouse Kjørbo, Powerhouse Montessori and Powerhouse Brattørkaia, Powerhouse Telemark aspires to be model for environmentally, socially and economically sustainable architecture, while also challenging our conception of what our offices might look like in the post COVID-19 era.



* A Powerhouse produces more energy than it consumes over its lifespan (a conservative estimate of at least sixty years), including construction, demolition and the embodied energy in the materials used to construct the building.

** BREEAM is the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for masterplanning projects, infrastructure and buildings. It recognizes and reflects the value in higher performing assets across the built environment lifecycle, from new construction to in-use and refurbishment.

BREEAM does this through third party certification of the assessment of an asset’s environmental, social and economic sustainability performance, using standards developed by BRE. This means BREEAM rated developments are more sustainable environments that enhance the well-being of the people who live and work in them, help protect natural resources and make for more attractive property investments.


About Powerhouse
Powerhouse represents a research, design and engineering collaboration of industry partners in the development of energy-positive buildings, and consists of the property company Entra, the entrepreneur Skanska, the environmental organization ZERO, the design and architecture firm Snøhetta, and the consulting company Asplan Viak.

The Powerhouse collaboration defines an energy-positive building as a building that will produce more clean and renewable energy throughout its lifespan than it uses in the production of building materials, construction, operation, and demolition.

The first project realized by the collaboration partners was Powerhouse Kjørbo, located in Sandvika outside Oslo, Norway. This was the first energy-positive building in Norway, and to our knowledge the first renovated energy-positive building in the world. Other net-zero and energy-positive buildings by Snøhetta include Powerhouse Brattørkaia, Harvard HouseZero, ZEB Pilot House and Powerhouse Drøbak Montessori Secondary School.

Snøhetta wraps co-working space with thermally-modified pine for Powerhouse Telemark

Thermory as Manufacturers

Powerhouse Telemark is a co-working building in Porsgrunn, Norway designed to be carbon negative and produce more energy than it will consumer over a 60-year lifespan, thus giving it the new building standard of a Powerhouse. Snøhetta built the project to be as energy efficient as possible, and much of it, including its windows, are covered with Thermory pine boards.

Powerhouse Telemark stretches 11 floors and contains two levels of open-plan communal workspaces, as well as several more private meeting rooms and a rooftop terrace. It has a noteworthy shape with a massive slanted roof that extends past its base that is topped with photovoltaic panels for powering the building.

Almost the entire structure is wrapped in angled strips of thermally-modified pine from Thermory, including dozens of its windows on the west, north-west and north-east facade to provide natural shading. This panelling lends a dark colour to the building and beneath them are large fibre cement sheets of Cembrit panels.

The interiors are also crafted to be mindful of the environment and feature white walls, local wood, gypsum and carpet tiles made from recycled fishing nets. Pale green and tan accents add a pop of colour to the otherwise stark spaces.

Snøhetta designed the Powerhouse Telemark building as a way to alleviate the architecture industry’s heavy footprint and negative impact on the environment. “The energy sector and building industry accounts for over 40% of global industry’s heat-trapping emissions combined, according to the World Resources Institute,” Snøhetta said. “As the world’s population and the severity of the climate crisis continue to grow, we are challenged to think how to build responsibly – creating high quality spaces for people while also reducing our environmental footprint.”

About a 2-hour drive west of Oslo, Powerhouse Telemark joins a number of other Powerhouse-like structures in Norway also built by Snøhetta, including a Montessori school in Drøbak and two other office buildings, Powerhouse Kjørbo and Powerhouse Brattørkaia. Another project that is also clad in Thermory pine boards is a rental complex in Poland , which was also built this year in the holiday mountain town of Karpacz.

Product Information
Benchmark by Thermory 
Thermo-pine cladding

Jeanett Teigen, BLAAtime

Steni Supplies Façade For CNN Favourite Build

STENI AS as Manufacturers

Façade panels from Steni will adorn the much-heralded Powerhouse Telemark in Porsgrunn, one of ten buildings that CNN believes will set the standard for 2020.

CNN ranked Powerhouse Telemark in third place on its list “The most anticipated buildings set to shape the world in 2020”. When the building in Porsgrunn is completed in June, it will be one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the world. A Powerhouse produces more energy than it uses throughout its life.

Minimal energy needs, maximal energy utilisation
CNN is enthusiastic about the building’s elegant diamond shape, as well as about its design that maximises the solar energy it captures. The building has also been praised for its use of recycled materials from local demolition projects in order to keep the carbon footprint as low as possible. As CNN writes, Powerhouse Telemark sets “a new standard for the construction of the buildings of tomorrow.”

Short-travelled façade panels
For this building, Steni is supplying Steni Colour façade panels in the colour 8008M. Steni Colour is manufactured less than 40 km from Powerhouse Telemark. The outer walls are traditional energy-efficient walls clad with the façade panels. Outside that there will be a ribbed façade of fireproof impregnated timber.


Architecture from Snøhetta
Powerhouse Telemark was given form by the architects at Snøhetta. This world-renowned architecture firm, famous for iconic buildings such as the new library in Alexandria and the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet building in Oslo, has a reputation for creating innovative and environmentally friendly buildings. The design of Powerhouse Telemark has been optimised to capture solar energy, and the architects have suggested materials that limit both energy consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions.

Produces more energy than it uses
Powerhouse Telemark will be one of the world’s most energy-efficient buildings. In fact, it will produce about 239,000 kWh per year from its photovoltaic cells – effectively making it a small power plant supplying surplus electricity back to the grid.

Awarded “Excellent” BREEAM-NOR certification
Powerhouse Telemark is the first BREEAM-NOR certified building in Telemark. Indeed, it has been certified in the category “Excellent”, the second-highest possible level in the environmental certification scheme. Its energy requirements are 66 per cent less than those of a typical new build.

An environmentally friendly choice
“We are proud to be supplying Steni panels for Powerhouse Telemark,” says Jan Terje Nielsen of Steni AS. “When an architecture firm as renowned as Snøhetta chooses materials, they are highly aware of environmental properties, as well as lifetime and aesthetics. In recent years we have supplied panels for various BREEAM “Excellent”-certified projects, where the clients’ requirements regarding the environment, durability, appearance and maintenance were decisive,” he continues.

Attractive office building in Porsgrunn
The ground was broken in September 2018, and the “green diamond” will be ready for use in June 2020. One of the world’s most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly buildings, Powerhouse Telemark offers 8,313 m² of floor space over 11 storeys. It will feature facilities such as a fitness studio, shower/cloakrooms, a foyer, a canteen and an exclusive roof terrace – all very attractive for tenants.

“Actually, the building is already over 80 per cent allocated,” reveals Tommy Thovsland, Project Manager for the client, R8 Property AS.

Read story in Nederlands

Powerhouse Telemark

SageGlass as Manufacturers

A powerhouse of a building
The Powerhouse Telemark is one of the most innovative office buildings in the world, and the first BREEAM-certified building in the Norwegian county of Telemark. The energy-plus building is considered a flagship project for the green transformation of the real estate sector in Norway, and its solar architecture extends the building’s influence far beyond the borders of the country. More solar energy is produced on the impressive structure’s sloped roof than can be consumed by the offices within.

“Powerhouse” is a Norwegian climate initiative led by architectural firm Snøhetta, together with environmental organization ZERO, real estate company Entra Eiendom, construction company Skanska and consulting firm Asplan Viak. To meet the Powerhouse standard, the project must not only be energy-efficient and generate renewable energy, but also demonstrate a healthy CO2 footprint throughout its construction, demolition and all the materials consumed. The Powerhouse Telemark is the fourth Powerhouse construction project by the Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta, following its sister projects: Powerhouse Kjørbo, Powerhouse Montessori and Powerhouse Brattørkaia.


Sustainable office concept
Powerhouse Telemark is a cutting-edge office building that meets the energy-plus standard, making it a model project in more than one sense. Both its energy performance and interior layout concept are ground-breaking developments. From Snøhetta’s point of view, a building is only sustainable if it can be repeatedly reconfigured for different uses.

That’s why the architects followed a strategy of flexible workspaces and rooms. The 8,403-square meter office space is distributed across eleven unique floors. It includes co-working spaces, a restaurant, shared meeting rooms and a roof terrace with views over the fjord, as well as a wide variety of office floors. The interior layout of the office and workspaces is highly flexible, so the space can be reconfigured at any time to adapt to the changing needs of users.

For improved utilization of daylight and energy consumption, the offices have been laid out according to the daylight optimization principle. Consequently, private office rooms have been placed on the north-facing and east-facing facades, while the open, flexible office spaces face south and west. The light-permeated wood cladding on the facades provides natural protection from sunlight and glare in the workspaces, while also preventing the exterior walls from heating up unnecessarily. Thanks to low- tech measures such as these, the net energy consumption of the Powerhouse Telemark is 70 percent lower than that of similar new construction.


Advanced solar architecture
The eleven-story office building on the banks of the Porsgrunnselva River was strictly aligned with the sun by its architects. They increased the roof area by sloping the roof at an angle of 24 degrees facing south, and completely covered it with photovoltaic panels. Only a small area remains free for a roof terrace. In addition, the building draws solar energy from the photovoltaic system installed on the south-facing facade. With a total of 1,482 square meters of PV panels, the Powerhouse generates 256,000 kilowatt hours of solar energy every year – far more than the building itself consumes. The excess energy generated by the building is fed back into the power grid.

To light the conference center under the sloped roof, the roof was fitted with slots of glass. For the safety of maintenance personnel on the steeply sloped roof, no exterior sun protection could be installed on the roof. For this reason, the architects and client opted for skylights with self-tinting glass: SageGlass Classic double-glazed insulating glass. The electrochromic glass enables intelligent daylight management with both automatic and manual controls. In normal use, the glass responds automatically and tints the windows according to the intensity of the sunlight. In the Powerhouse Telemark, the glass can also be controlled manually to adjust the degree of tinting to individual requirements.

For Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, one of the founding partners of Snøhetta, climate change means that “architects and designers have a central responsibility to rethink our built environment. To do so, we need more interdisciplinary alliances like Powerhouse, so that we can establish industry standards for sustainable buildings and cities at the economic, social and environmental levels.” The Powerhouse Telemark is leading by example.

Read story in Deutsch

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