An illustration of how the new school could look once finished.
A Scandinavian construction giant is set to build an energy-efficient, solar-paneled school in Norway. It’s the latest example of the education sector turning to sustainable technologies and construction practices to reduce its environmental impact.
Norwegian firm Veidekke has been tasked by the city of Oslo to build the school, which will cover around 14,000 square meters and is slated to be finished before the 2023 academic year begins.
In an announcement at the end of last week Veidekke – which was established in 1936 and has an annual turnover of roughly 39 billion Norwegian kroner ($3.56 billion) – said the Voldsløkka secondary school would have solar panels on both its façades and roof. In addition, machinery used on the construction site would run on “fossil-free fuel”.
Around the world, an increasing number of school buildings and educational campuses are turning to energy efficient technologies in an effort to become more sustainable.
In the U.K., for instance, the University of Plymouth is one of many institutions to use a Building Management System, or BMS, to both monitor and control things like lighting and the energy used by devices in its buildings. According to the university, its BMS “controls 95% of our campus buildings, ensuring intelligent control of the building systems to make sure there’s no energy waste.”
Other examples include University College Cork, in Ireland, which said it reduced total energy use by over 20% between 2008 and 2018. The 2018/19 academic year saw the university undertake 22 different energy efficiency projects, including the installation of 42 kilowatts of solar power.
How construction can go green
While technology can boost the energy efficiency of buildings, the way they are built — and taking a long view — can also be beneficial.
“Whatever you are going to construct, from an environmental perspective, your number one priority is to ensure your designers are focused on enabling you to build something that is energy efficient, uses materials that have a low embodied carbon and can be easily maintained, re-purposed and ultimately, after a long and useful lifetime, be recycled,” Dominic Burbridge, associate director of the Carbon Trust, said in a statement sent to CNBC.com.
Meanwhile, Karl Desai, from the U.K. Green Building Council (UKGBC), told CNBC via email that construction firms “should aim to reduce the carbon emissions related to all activities of a building’s construction, to help mitigate impacts on climate change.”
Desai, who is projects manager for Advancing Net Zero at the UKGBC, explained that reductions could come from things such as reducing the total amount of materials used in the building as well as prioritizing the reuse of existing materials to prevent “virgin extraction.”
Materials, he added, could be sourced locally to avoid transport emissions, while using them “as close to their raw form as possible” could also be beneficial.
On-site emissions could also be cut through things like 100%-electric construction equipment sourcing its electricity from renewables.
“The embodied emissions associated with the construction of a building, also known as ‘upfront carbon’, will become of increasing significance as buildings become more efficient in their operation and we move towards a net zero carbon world,” Desai added.