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Energy investments at Vestsiden junior high school

How did a municipality with a strained economy succeed in constructing a school based on highly innovative energy technologies and solutions?

Vestsiden junior high school seen from above, with solar panels on the roof.

Vestsiden junior high school. Photo: SKORVE Entreprenør AS

Vestsiden junior high school is a publicly owned school that opened in August 2019, in Kongsberg municipality. In addition to an emission and energy use plan that rested on a life-cycle based analysis, it appears to be highly innovative regarding material choice, energy solution and planning design. It has 300 kWp of solar panels on the rooftop, combined with grid connection, 50 kWh chemical battery (expanded to 500kWh later in 2019), 8m3 water reservoir temperature storage, ground heating, various heat pump systems, and a hydro oxide storage facility for seasonal variations, of a unique size of 5600 kWh. This is controlled for in a microgrid system where all the sub-systems are integrated. The building itself is a plus house, constructed in wood. 

The construction of this building in a municipality with a strained economy may seem to be a puzzle, as first, it is not “necessary”, and second, it takes significant capacity in terms of financial and human resources. Also, some of the technical solutions are both individually somewhat groundbreaking (in particular the hydrogen storage) and fully integrated. On an organizational side, it might make more sense to progress more iteratively with the public buildings in the municipality. 

Understanding why the municipality decided to build the school in this way, what barriers they met in doing so, and how they have been overcome, can produce important lessons for other municipal building projects seeking to implement innovative energy technologies and solutions. 

Published Nov. 6, 2020 2:28 PM - Last modified Mar. 12, 2021 10:58 AM