When a new high-rise is built in downtown Oslo, Norway, one of the first things visitors will notice is the bikes: A massive ramp leads cyclists directly into the building, and the plate-glass windows in the lobby show off bike racks.
The building will have parking spots for 500 bicycles, along with bike repair stations, a place to wash bikes, and a shower and a place to change. There will be 10 charging stations for electric cars, but no room for conventional cars at all.
The design is meant to encourage anyone coming to the building to get there on a bike instead of driving. "There are several trends pointing in that direction," says Anders Solaas, executive vice president for letting and development at Entra, the building's developer. "The political leadership in Oslo is crystal clear on [its] large ambitions for increased use of bicycles. Employees are making commuting their daily workout through cycling."
It's one of several features that will make the future office building ultra-sustainable. Designed by Oslo firm Code Architecture and called Oslo Solar, the building is part of Norway's FutureBuilt program, which is developing 50 pilot projects demonstrating the lowest possible greenhouse gas emissions. When it's completed, Oslo Solar will produce more energy than it uses—and possibly more than any other building in Europe.
The roof will be plastered with 8,300 square meters of solar panels. "The slanting roof is angled toward the sun to optimize energy production from the solar panels during daylight hours," says Solaas. "It makes the architecture unique, but I guess we will see more and more roofs angled like this to take full advantage of renewable solar power."
Heat comes from a district heating system and solar thermal technology. Because the building is as efficient as possible and filled with natural light, it can easily produce more than the amount of power it needs.
The roof will also collect rain and snow. Though the final design is still under development, the idea is to capture water to irrigate plants and to recycle inside the building. The northwest facade of the building, and a cave-like atrium inside, will be covered with moss-filled panels that can act as a habitat for birds and bats. The plant-covered atrium will also help naturally cool the building in the summer and provide fresh air, while filling nearby offices with light.
Materials such as low-carbon concrete and recycled steel will also keep the environmental footprint of construction low.
The developers think it can serve as a model for other energy-producing, carbon-negative high-rises.
"The global real estate industry is a massive contributor to climate gas emissions," Solaas says. "We see numerous initiatives to reduce this sector's carbon footprint. Being in the forefront of this development gives us a competitive advantage, our customers are valuing it, and it is absolutely necessary to combat climate change. So yes, energy-positive buildings will be more common in the future."
All Images: Code Architecture