Snøhetta has once again raised the bar for sustainable architecture with its completion of Powerhouse Brattørkaia, the world’s northernmost energy-positive building located in the Norwegian city of Trondheim. Designed with a sloped roof topped with photovoltaic panels, the eight-story, 18,000-square-meter office building produces, on average, more than twice as much electricity as it consumes daily. It feeds surplus renewable energy to neighboring buildings and the city transit system through a local micro-grid. The extremely energy-efficient structure has also received BREEAM Outstanding certification.

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Powerhouse Brattørkaia was created by the Powerhouse, a collaboration between Snøhetta, property company Entra, entrepreneur Skanska, environmental organization ZERO and the consulting company Asplan Viak to bring energy-positive buildings to Norway and the world. The group was also responsible for Norway’s first energy-positive building, Powerhouse Kjørbo. Per Powerhouse’s strict guidelines, all Powerhouse buildings are designed to produce more energy than they consume over their lifetimes — including construction, demolition and embodied energy, factors that are not normally included when considering energy usage.

Related: Harvard unveils Snøhetta-designed HouseZero for sustainable, plus-energy living

dark metal-clad geometric building and traditional office buildings near water at dusk
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“Energy-positive buildings are the buildings of the future,” said Snøhetta founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen. “The mantra of the design industry should not be ‘form follows function’ but ‘form follows environment.’ This means that the design thinking of today should focus on environmental considerations and reducing our footprint first, and have the design follow this premise.”

people at counter with plants against the wall
people working at desks in room with water views

Located by the waterfront in a city that receives little sunshine in the winter, Powerhouse Brattørkaia is wrapped in black aluminum and almost 3,000 square meters of solar panels to ensure maximum exposure to the sun throughout the day and the seasons. The building footprint also includes ample energy storage to supplement demand in winter. The building is equipped with other energy-efficient features, such as superior insulation, heat recovery solutions, seawater-driven heating and cooling systems and optimized access to natural light.

+ Snøhetta

Photography by Ivar Kvaal via Snøhetta

dark metal-clad geometric building and traditional office buildings near water lit up at night