Radical environmental technology at Vertikal Nydalen Oslo

In the historic industrial area of Nydalen by the river Akerselva in Oslo, Norway this revolutionary Futurebuilt pilotproject i unveiled.

Vertikal Nydalen utilises innovative environmental technology and is the first mixed-use building in Norway with natural climate control, attracting international attention. The climate benefit is significant both during the construction process and throughout the building’s lifetime. Research shows that the ventilation system alone can account for up to 30 percent of a building’s lifecycle emissions.

The 65-metre high building, with 10,000 square metres spread over 18 floors, features several innovative solutions for health and the environment in offices, restaurants, and residences, completed in 2023.

Futurebuilt, pilotbuilding and BREEAM

It is a flagship project in FutureBuilt, aiming for nearly zero energy consumption, and is constructed to reduce CO2 emissions associated with production by 50%. It is also a pilot building in the LowEx research project, funded by the Research Council of Norway, incorporating innovative solutions for ventilation, heating, and cooling. The building is certified under BREEAM-NOR with the ambition of achieving an Excellent rating for the office section.


The developer is Avantor, and the architects are Snøhetta. Research and development are carried out by Naturligvis, LowEx, Smarttune, and Hybridene. The contractor is Skanska Tenkinn and Skanska Norway.

Experiences continues after the photo.

Vertikal Nydalen i Oslo har nyskapende miljøteknologi. BREEAM Excellent og Futurebuilt prosjekt.

Developer Avantor

As a developer, Avantor has and always had a strong focus on the environment, with high environmental ambitions concretised in an environmental strategy where the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are central. ISO14001 – environmental management system

Vertikal Nydalen is an important and exciting project in terms of environmental technology and innovation, and is constructed to reduce CO2 emissions associated with production by 50%.

Snøhetta Architects

Snøhetta is the lead architect in the Powerhouse collaboration, a multidisciplinary partnership with building industry leaders dedicated to creating energy positive buildings.

Vertikal Nydalen is a ‘triple zero solution’ building, no energy is purchased for heating, cooling, or ventilation. This is achieved using geothermal wells, PV panels, a low-exergy system for heating and cooling, and natural ventilation.

50% Reduced Co2 emissions

The project has more than a 50 percent overall reduction in CO2 emissions from materials, transport, and energy compared to a reference project.

Natural heat and cooling system

Water from geo-wells in the ground circulates in the clay walls and concrete slabs when heating or cooling is needed. The heat absorbed into the concrete walls during the day is released at night, contributing to stable temperatures in the building. The PV panels on the roof power the heat pump that controls the heating and cooling system.

Ceiling and facade

As traditional ventilation systems in office buildings often require a lowered ceiling of up to one metre from the slab, this natural solution without ducts and fans saves a lot of space – space that is better used for light and openness, and can drastically enhance the spatial qualities of the rooms.

The angled facade is designed to create pressure differences that enable air to move through the building. The air enters through valves in the façade, which open and close as needed. When two windows open on different sides of the building, the pressure difference forces the air to move through the premises, so the air circulates.

Less is more

In addition to minimising the space required for technical elements, the energy use for ventilation, the CO2 footprint in the construction industry, and increasing the spatial qualities of the building, naturally ventilated offices have less need for remodelling and technical maintenance, so the spaces are designed to last and adapt to the clients’ changing needs. Snøhetta.

Contractor Skanska Norway

The business units at Skanska are certified according to the ISO 14001 environmental management system.

The most radical aspect of Vertikal Nydalen is the ventilation system for the office section, consisting only of sensor-controlled valves on the facade. The project attracts international attention, regularly hosting busloads of interested professionals, as a building like this has never been realised in Norway before.

If we briefly list 10 key points, they can be summarised as follows:

  1. The building produces the energy needed for ventilation, heating, and cooling for the office section.
  2. The energy demand for operating Vertikal Nydalen is less than 1/10th of a typical office building.
  3. All ventilation in the office section is natural ventilation through sensor-controlled vents.
  4. There are no ventilation ducts or systems inside that reduce ceiling height.
  5. The building’s angles are designed to direct natural airflow between the vents in the premises.
  6. Water from geo-wells circulates in both floors and walls for cooling or heating.
  7. Heat is absorbed in concrete walls during the day and released at night for stable indoor temperatures.
  8. The PV panels on the roof provide power to the heat pump that heats the office section.
  9. Each workstation has a QR code allowing users to provide feedback on the indoor climate.
  10. Feedback on temperature, draughts, or air quality is recorded in real time by the climate system.
Eliminating 80 percent of the technology

“The question we answer with Vertikal Nydalen is this: Can we eliminate 80 percent of the technology in a modern office building and still achieve a good indoor climate that users are satisfied with? Can we forgo expensive and complicated mechanics and instead build a robust building with solid solutions that will work for many decades and still achieve good comfort and air quality? We believe the answer is yes, and Vertikal Nydalen shows how it can be done,” says chief advisor Tor Helge Dokka at Skanska.

Building materials with recognised environmental documentation

Building materials are crucial for sustainable development, as research shows. About 70% of the footprint of new buildings comes from building materials. With FutureBuilt and BREEAM-NOR certification, there are requirements that building materials with documented health, environmental, and climate qualities beyond government standards are selected.

These building materials are supplied and have recognised documentation:

Viega – Sustainable drinking water is a challenge in buildings. sponsored content.

Logo Viega

Glasopor 10-20+: The Natural Choice for the Roofs of Vertikal Nydalen

Glasopor logo – sponsored content

SL Stenlegging utilised the new Glasopor 10-20+ product in the rooftop gardens of Vertikal Nydalen.

“It’s a lightweight product that is readily available and provides a stable mass that is easy to handle,” says Tim Fosvold, a landscape engineer and estimator at SL Stenlegging. He was involved in planning the three ‘green’ roofs atop the towers at Gullhaug Torg 2 in Oslo, also known as Vertikal Nydalen.

Introducing Glasopor 10-20+

Glasopor 10-20+ is easier to apply and work with, offering all the benefits of Glasopor 10-60, with improved stability and strength, and longer rainwater retention.

Tim Fosvold emphasises the product’s stability and ease of handling, noting its suitability for large volume fill in rooftop gardens, terraces, and similar applications.

“It’s a lightweight product that’s easy to manage without the need for heavy equipment,” Fosvold adds.

Glasopor 10-20+: Easier Retrofits

The Glasopor 10-20+ was chosen partly due to the need for subsequent installation of a self-watering system.

“I’ve worked with Glasopor for 10 years, but this was my first time using this particular fraction. It made the installation of the self-watering pipes simpler,” Fosvold explains.

Reducing the Carbon Footprint

Vertikal Nydalen is a compelling project consisting of two towers, the tallest reaching 18 storeys. There are three rooftop terraces, two of which are for communal use. The building aims to operate without purchased energy for heating, ventilation, or cooling, and has a significantly lower carbon footprint than a reference building.

“There are three main factors at play here: the project’s proximity to public transport, its low energy use throughout its lifecycle, and the mix of materials and construction methods we use,” explains Åsmund Tørvi, project manager at Skanska Norway, the main contractor.

Unique Architecture

The building features commercial spaces, offices, and apartments. Despite still being partially under construction, the commercial and office floors are already in use.

“We use natural ventilation in the office areas, which is a new approach for us. This is intended to be a low-energy building. We use a significant amount of concrete to store energy within the structure and as a design element,” Tørvi says.

The architecture, designed by Snøhetta, includes slanted walls and overhangs, giving the building a distinctive form.

“We spend a lot of time discussing material choices and solutions. For instance, we’ve used post-tensioned slabs to reduce the thickness of floor plates and minimise reinforcement,” Tørvi adds.

Stringent Requirements

Suppliers must meet strict criteria to be part of the project.

“Yes, there are stringent requirements, so part of our job is to find suppliers who can deliver the necessary products that comply with building regulations and our own standards,” Tørvi notes.

Glasopor, made from 100% recycled glass packaging, fits well within the project’s sustainability goals.

“On a green roof, using a recycled material is certainly beneficial, but the primary reason we chose Glasopor was its suitability for this specific application,” Fosvold concludes.

Read more about Glasopor, its benefits, and applications.

Glasopor logo


About Futurebuilt and BREEAM

What is Futurebuilt? Read more: FutureBuilt

What is BREEAM Excellent? HOW BREEAM WORKS – BREEAM – sustainability solutions for the built environment

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