Passive house pioneers

Statnett’s new head office in Nydalen in Oslo is Norway’s largest passive house with a Green A energy rating. Statnett employees are very pleased with their new, environmentally-friendly office.

On 11 March last year, Statnett moved into its new head office. The new office has seven floors and houses 925 workstations.

“The building has been divided into three zones, with work stations all around the outer perimeter where the lighting is best. The mid zone consists of quiet rooms and conference rooms. They act as a buffer towards the inner zone, which is the noisy zone containing staircases and open space meeting areas with coffee machines, newspapers, etc.” says Senior Vice President HSE, Kirsten Berg.

The head office is Statnett’s second passive house. The first is located in Strinda in Trondheim.

“What’s so ingenious about passive houses is that they also provide a good working environment. It’s entirely possible to have light and airy premises with a good indoor climate combined with energy-efficient solutions,” she continues.

Statnett’s new head office is centrally located in Nydalen in Oslo.

Efficient sound-proofing

The building was not meant to be a passive house from the outset. The modifications were made during the design phase.

“We commissioned a B building and included a clause to try and achieve an A building. The result was even better, which we are very pleased with,” Berg says.

Statnett had a lease contract with an option to buy with the building owner Avantor, and just before Christmas last year, Statnett bought the building.

“One of the modifications we made was to reduce the size of the windows by about eight per cent. Instead of having floor to ceiling windows, there is now a low wall. This is greatly appreciated by people with workstations near the windows, as the wall hides any mess and handbags on the floor. And it means they can wear a skirt to work!”

The floors in the work zones are carpeted with high-quality carpets.

“They muffle sound. The desktops are also less hard than usual, which also reduces noise. We even ordered special keyboards which reduce keyboard noise,” Berg says.

The building has a light and airy design, which helps create a good working environment.

Focused on re-use

On the ground floor, there is a lobby, canteen and conference room, whereas the next four floors house mainly workstations, quiet rooms, meeting rooms and open space meeting areas. The two top floors are slightly smaller, but also house some workstations.

“The total area of the building is 22 000 square metres. 15 000 square metres are common rooms. The whole building is packed with functional solutions which make good use of the space,” Kirsten Berg says.

A lighting plan ensures that all personnel areas are well-lit and long fluorescent tubes, the best on the market, make sure that everyone always has sufficient light at their workstations.

“Sensors on the lamps regulate the amount of lighting according to the natural daylight and the activity level, for this reason there are no individual desk lamps. The ventilation system is also very advanced. It measures the CO2 level and the heating in the room and regulates it accordingly,” Berg continues.

Much of the furniture from the old head office has been reused.

“We took with us everything we could use, and we also kept reuse in mind when we purchased new furniture,” Berg says.

The ground floor canteen serves as a relaxing haven for the employees.

Satisfied staff

An employee survey which, among other factors, measured how satisfied the staff are with the new office building showed that as many as 72 per cent were very pleased with their new office.

“It is very good, not least considering we came from a work situation with small individual offices to an open office landscape. This is all about HSE: A pleasant place to work, climate, safety and cooperation. We used to have several office locations, but now we are all under one roof, which also improves communication between the various disciplines. And we have to cross fewer icy patches on our way to meetings.” Berg says. Nydalen is very central, and a hub for bus, underground and train transport.

“This means that fewer people now go to work by car. For all of 2013, we provided an incentive where we offered personnel who did not travel by car a monthly amount of 500 Norwegian Kroner to spend on trainers or a monthly travel card. The incentive was very effective. We also have four electric cars that people can borrow to go to and from meetings or if they suddenly have to pick up children from kindergarten,” says Berg.

Statnett is certified according to the Eco-Lighthouse standard, which means the company has to comply with a number of requirements.

“One such requirement is to separate our waste. We are also aiming for a paper-free working environment,” Kirsten Berg says.

How do you like working in the new office building?

Britt Seljesæter, Consultant, IT Service:

“I was the project manager for IT and technical equipment for the conference rooms in the new building, and was involved in the building process. The conference rooms were designed following input from users in Husebyplatået, and seem to function as planned. I think the new building is very stylish. The rooms are light and pleasant, and I’m happy to work in an open office landscape. It is much easier to be part of what’s going on than in a cell office.”

Rolf Korneliussen, Economist:

“The building is absolutely beautiful! Working in an open landscape is great. It is much easier to join in and take part in discussions. We have a two-minute time limit; if a discussion lasts longer we use one of the quiet rooms. There are good technical solutions in the conference rooms including large TV screens, so you can just bring your laptop. This also makes sure we use less paper. It’s good to know that we are working in an environmentally-friendly building, it’s something we can be proud of telling people. The building is brimming with clever, carefully considered solutions. We have a good view and a lot of light.”

Helene Sundheim, Chartered Engineer, National Control Centre:

“I was very positive to an open office landscape from the start. I like having people around me when I work. The control centre is almost on the top floor, which means we have a much better view now. I live just across the river and walk to work. It only takes me five minutes. I bought a flat in Nydalen because I knew the office would be moving here. It gives me some extra time during workdays. It’s really great working here. We have many benefits that we perhaps take for granted such as the new exercise facilities. They are excellent – nobody really needs to join a gym!”

Rune Hernes Bjerke, Quality Manager:

“I have worked for Statnett for twenty years. When I started, I had a small office with no contact with others. The move here has been very positive and I’m happy to work in an open office landscape, and there are many quiet rooms should we need them. The offices are very flexible, and it’s easy to hold ad hoc meetings. This means we also work more efficiently – if I turn around 180 degrees, I have my boss right behind me. As we have no competitors, we have a social responsibility. Consequently, it is important that we set a good example by having our offices in an environmentally friendly building. And that’s something we can be proud of!”

Did you know.....

60 homes

Annual energy reduction in the building corresponds to the energy use of 60 homes

25% consumption

Consumes approximately 25 per cent of the average office energy use compared with the current applicable building regulations.

72% satisfaction

72 per cent of employees are very pleased with the new building.

Text: Sissel Fantoft Photo: Bo Mathisen and Statnett

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