16.3 Certification Systems: Powerhouse Norway

Author: Brian Leclerc

ABSTRACT: Buildings are one of the leading causes of climate change as they consume nearly half of the world’s energy and produce almost 40% of global carbon. Buildings have a severe impact on the environment, and there needs to be a change, fast.


The effect that buildings have on the environment is significantly large not only when they are being used, but also through their construction and demolition. The use of energy in a building is mostly attributed to heating/cooling, hot water, refrigeration, lighting, cooking appliances, washers and dryers, and other electrical sources. Across the globe, buildings alone consume 35% of resources, 12% of the earth’s potable water, 40% of energy use, and produce 40% of global carbon. Additionally, buildings that are poorly or cheaply constructed are more likely to use more energy and have a worsening impact on the environment. With buildings consuming almost half of the planet’s energy just by themselves, it is evident that the only way to lessen that number and avoid worsening climate change, is to reduce the use of energy in buildings.

Although, another company has taken a different route into tackling the problem in which buildings are worsening the effects of climate change. The company, Powerhouse, sets out a goal to construct buildings that produce more energy than they will consume in their overall lifetime including the construction of the building, the usage of the building, and the demolition of the building. The Powerhouse standard is essentially Norway’s concept of the house of the future. It is also a movement, to help battle climate change and replenish energy into the planet. Powerhouse currently has four energy positive buildings located in Norway, and they plan to expand as well. Powerhouse also provides contracts to buildings that meet their standard. The majority of their buildings they have fully constructed themselves, but they also renovate buildings to become energy positive as well.

Powerhouse Kjorbo is an example of this, it was previously an office building that Powerhouse bought, renovated, and turned into an energy positive building that also helps its community. The building has its own energy plant, while also receiving energy from Norway’s largest solar cell plant.

One of their most recent constructions, Powerhouse Brattorkaia is probably one of their most efficient. Powerhouse Brattorkaia is the largest energy positive building in all of Norway, and the building itself produces twice as much energy as it consumes daily! It supplies energy to itself, as well as electricity to buildings nearby, and electric cars, busses and boats in its neighbourhood.

Norway also has the world’s first energy positive school, ‘Powerhouse Drobak Montessori school.’ The building holds solar panels on the roof which tap geothermal energy, as well as energy wells on the sides of the building. The building’s energy generation per year is 30,500 kWh and the supplied energy, including equipment, is approximately -28,000 kWh per year. This is what makes Powerhouse Drobak Montessori school the most sustainable school in the world!

With our population growing each and every year, it is evidently an unrealistic goal for everyone to ‘reduce energy consumption’ in buildings, as that will have a minimal effect on climate change compared to the severe effects the building energy consumption causes. Powerhouse has introduced a new and improved way of how we can construct our buildings to be energy positive and halt the effects of climate change caused by buildings.


Deezeen. Snøhetta Designs Carbon-Negative Powerhouse Telemark Office in Norway. YouTube, 22 Nov. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjEr6DDgqUQ.

Ecohome July 23, et al. “All about Powerhouse, Norway’s Carbon Neutral Building Standard.” Ecohome, https://www.ecohome.net/guides/3318/powerhouse-the-new-standard-for-positive-energy-design/

Ecohome June 30, et al. “Passive House Certification, Choosing between PHI & PHIUS.”Ecohome, https://www.ecohome.net/guides/2191/everything-you-need-to-know-about-passive-house/

Explorer, The. “Norway Is Pioneering Energy-Positive Buildings.” The Explorer, https://www.theexplorer.no/stories/architecture-and-construction/norway-is-pioneering-energy-positive-buildings/#:~:text=The%20buildings%20of%20tomorrow%20will,electricity%20to%20power%20neighbouring%20buildings.

Fjeldheim, Henning. “ESTABLISHING THE LIFE CYCLE PRIMARY ENERGY BALANCE FOR POWERHOUSE KJØRBO.” 21 Aug. 2015. https://docplayer.net/20852444-Establishing-the-life-cycle-primary-energy-balance-for-powerhouse-kjorbo.html

Hurst, Nathan. “In Norway, an Ambitious New Standard for Green Building Is Catching On.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 18 Apr. 2018, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/in-norway-ambitious-new-standard-green-building-is-catching-on-180968828/

“Powerhouse Brattørkaia – the World’s Northernmost Energy-Positive Building.” Snøhetta, https://www.snohetta.com/projects/456-powerhouse-brattorkaia-the-worlds-northernmost-energy-positive-building

“Powerhouse.” Powerhouse.no, https://www.powerhouse.no/en/prosjekter/powerhouse-brattorkaia/

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