Testing new solutions
According to Research Director at SINTEF, Terje Jacobsen, involving the building and construction industry is very important.
“Further to initiating projects with support from the Norwegian Research Council that involve both researchers and the business community, we want to get the industry to use the building to develop their own solutions. The building provides opportunities both to test how the solutions work technically and to see how people who use the building experience them. That way, companies can reduce risk before a product is launched on the market,” says Jacobsen.
Creating buildings that do not contribute to more greenhouse gases may sound utopian, but the ZEB laboratory itself is proof that this is possible. The building is mainly made of wood and is equipped with, solar cells, heat pumps and thermal storage.
“It is impossible to completely avoid emission of climate gases when constructing a building. We must compensate for this by collecting and delivering emission-free energy. The solution we have chosen is to supply electricity to the local electricity net and heat to the district heating networks,” Jacobsen explains.
The solution chosen for thermal storage is state of the art, technologically speaking. The technology is based on a so-called phase change material, which in this case is a type of bio-wax. The bio-wax is located in a tank that is connected to the heating and ventilation system. It is melted using the energy produced by the building. When the wax is allowed to solidify, heat is recovered.
Another unique feature of the building is that it is designed to allow for easy replacement of components to enable researchers and companies to test different solutions.
“We have, among other things, two test rooms where you can change facade elements such as windows and solar screens,” says Jacobsen.
These test rooms are completely identical, while parameters such as temperature, light and ventilation can be changed easily. This allows the researchers to compare how users react to changes in an indoor environment.