‘As developers we can set requirements’

With over 1 million square meters of real estate, Storebrand is one of Norway’s largest real estate managers. This also gives them a major responsibility. We had a chat with the sustainability manager in Real Estate, Unn Hofstad, about the industry’s joint climate responsibility.

If you could choose, would you prefer a shopping center with a water park, or a green city district with sustainable housing and great city living? In Økern, an area in eastern Oslo, there is a tall building that stands as a lonely landmark in an asphalt jungle of roads. Soon it can become an historical element in Oslo’s new district: Økern Centre. The district is going to take the world by storm – environmentally.

“Økern Centre will deliver the highest level of sustainable urban development, with a focus on the circular economy,” says Unn Hofstad, sustainability manager at Storebrand Eiendom.

We met her at Storebrand’s office at Lysaker in Oslo. Behind the office building, the beehives are ready and waiting for spring and new bees. When the building was completely rehabilitated 10 years ago, the goals were an excellent indoor environment and low environmental impact. Art from all over the world adorns the walls.

We want to be one of Europe’s best: Unn Hofstad, sustainability manager at Storebrand Eiendom.

“Everything that is delivered in the Økern Centre project must be future-oriented. As one of the developers, it is our and my responsibility to set clear sustainability requirements for contractors, partners, suppliers and subcontractors.”

In fact, back in time Økern was planned to become a giant shopping mall with a water park, which was scrapped in the summer of 2019. Storebrand is developing the area with the retail giant Steen & Strøm.

Major responsibility

The goal of being one of Europe’s best in the sustainable management of real estate investments gives Storebrand a unique position to influence society. Unn’s job, greatly simplified, is to make the company so demanding on sustainability that it will have an effect in other industries as well.

“That we as a developer can set requirements gives us a responsibility. We must set specific sustainability goals in each project, and work out the environmentally sound solutions down to the last detail,” she says.

Unn speaks with both commitment and vision. She has great faith in the new district of Økern, and the work she does in Storebrand.

“Through many smaller initiatives, and not least large urban development projects, we have a key role in creating the climate-friendly city. We want to be part of the solution for a more sustainable society,” says Unn.

As one of Norway’s largest real estate managers, Storebrand can require fossil-free construction sites, solutions for dismantling and reusing building materials, green roofs to process run-off water and support biodiversity, and can establish green energy production. They may also require the use of building products and materials with low greenhouse gas emissions and free from substances that are hazardous to health or the environment.

Shape the future

Unn’s commitment to sustainability comes from a desire to contribute. As part of Storebrand, she can help shape the future.

“When Storebrand aims to generate a return on people’s pensions and savings, we set strict requirements for sustainability in the companies in which we invest. When we invest directly in real estate, things look a little different. As managers of real estate investments, we work very specifically with sustainability and the environment. Every day we make choices and decisions that can help make the world around us a little greener. We measure the properties’ environmental and climate footprint, certify the buildings based on sustainability, and work continuously to improve them,” explains Unn.

She continues, “This isn’t done in a day. Nevertheless, so many knowledgeable suppliers and new products and solutions are emerging in the market, that we as a developer now have a far greater opportunity to develop sustainable buildings and communities.”

To measure how environmentally friendly their buildings are, Storebrand uses the BREEAM certification program (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method). In the BREEAM system, buildings and areas are awarded a grade of Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent or Outstanding. Storebrand aims to achieve a BREEAM grade of Excellent on its buildings.

Unn Hofstad with a scale model of office buildingsEnthusiastic: As part of Storebrand, Unn can help shape the future.

One hundred percent reuse

If you take the trip to Nydalen in northern Oslo you see by the subway station two slightly outdated office buildings. They stare down at the economists newly graduated from the Norwegian Business School BI, who rush by with sustainability on their minds. A few years ago, the buildings might have been demolished and rebuilt. Today, however, Storebrand examines very carefully the possibilities of re-using existing buildings when developing real estate. Finding the circular solutions is one of the biggest challenges for sustainable the real estate industry going forward.

“The goal of the development project is a large reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and 100 percent reuse. If we have to remove materials, we must reuse as much as possible. ‘New’ materials added should preferably be recycled, and at minimum reusable or recyclable,” explains Unn.

“Climate-effective products such as low carbon concrete and recycled metals are crucial, both in building construction and facade materials. Only five years ago, there was little access to recycled materials that could document greenhouse gas emissions from a life cycle perspective.”

Unn mentions aluminium as a good example of the shift that has taken place within the supply of greener materials. The metal is lightweight and can help realize exciting architecture. It can also be recycled indefinitely, with only four percent of the energy it takes to produce new aluminium.

“Developing these types of materials with good documentation is crucial to enable us to make the necessary calculations and sound, climate-friendly choices,” she explains.

Unn looks forward to the next steps.

“Recycled materials are just one of the pieces of the puzzle, but at the same time absolutely crucial. Now that we’ve got the first proof that it’s entirely possible to create environmentally friendly buildings and neighborhoods, it will be even more exciting to work on this in the future.”

Project | Campus IÉSEG

In the heart of Lille, IÉSEG School of Management is forging ahead with the extension and renovation of its original site. The School will welcome its students into a revamped ‘IÉSEG Village’ in 2021 and finish the project for the first semester of 2022. The campus will be larger, more user-friendly and more sustainable. It will also be one of the first projects in France to use Wicona’s Hydro CIRCAL® 75R low-carbon, recycled aluminium solutions.

Photo: Trace Architectes, Lille

IÉSEG is an international management school first established in Lille in 1964. Between its campus within Lille’s Université Catholique and its campus at Paris-La Défense, it now caters for over 6,000 students.

With its Vision 2025 strategy, the School aims to secure its position as a “a unique international hub empowering changemakers for a better society”. The School’s initial site at Rue de la Digue will now be transformed, after a new building was opened at its other Lille site in 2015, and its Paris site doubled in size in 2018. This metamorphosis will be performed in stages: the first will finish in the first quarter of 2021 when an expanded, renovated 8,000 m2 building complex is delivered. The final stage will make the ‘central square’ ready for the first semester of 2022.

The project: dense, unified and optimised

Trace Architectes has a long-running partnership with IÉSEG; the studio also joined forces with engineering consultants TPF Ingénierie to meet the three key challenges this project presented.

Achieving urban density

The Vauban district is at the heart of Lille’s tightly-packed urban fabric. And now this campus is doubling its surface area on a plot already occupied by four buildings, extending along the Rue de la Digue and Avenue Architecte Cordonnier. The development will be unified and expanded, both by extending the existing built fabric vertically and optimising it, and by transplanting part of the School into a new building on the former Tunon school site at the southern edge of the site. The architects Arnaud Delachapelle and Gaëtan Peretz explain that, once the project is complete, “The new Lille campus will provide an area of almost 14,000 m2, of which 8,700 m² will be completely redesigned thanks to the current building works at the IÉSEG Village.”

Unity with the surroundings

This project will unify all the indoor and outdoor areas, and thus contribute to the wellbeing of around 3,000 students as well as teaching and research staff, other workers and visitors to the campus. The major issue is linking the campus to the rest of the city. This involves both integration into the city and an internal model to organise the campus. The concept of a village – an open, fluid system of streets structured around a focal point – promotes closeness, interaction, meetings, cross-pollination and cohesion. This model facilitates flows through a purpose-built infrastructure layout around a major new central square housing a cafeteria, breakout areas and work spaces. Plenty of rest areas are provided, with abundant natural light, patios and planting.

Optimising energy and environmental performance

The IÉSEG Village has a background of social and environmental responsibility which in turn forms part of the School’s identity. IÉSEG is committed to the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME): six principles based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This responsible architectural approach shines through, not only in the exemplary decision to opt for restoration, but also by connecting the campus to the district heating network, using green roofs, recovering rainwater and ensuring high energy efficiency with the WICONA aluminium façade – the most sustainable on the market.

3,000 m2, all-glass ribbon

The IÉSEG Village is a bold architectural gesture at the very heart of Lille, made behind a unique glazed façade. The façade embodies the project’s identity and the link between the School and the outside world, providing both protection and transparency. The architects explained: “We designed a curtain wall which entirely encompasses the development, from the north to the south façade. This emphasises the overall coherence of the renovation and expansion project, and opens up perspective views within this dense setting. It was important to guarantee building users’ comfort, which meant avoiding the ‘cold wall phenomenon’ which could radiate from the façade – so we based our concept on triple glazing. It’s something we looked at with external consultants Olivier, and with Wicona’s internal design office. Their responses were appropriate for our technical thermal stresses. They met our requirements for comfort and emergency service access, as well as our aesthetic demands.”

The WICTEC 50SG system provides the perfect answer to these specific requirements, as it can produce smooth, high-performance façades on a large scale. This is due to its Wicona structural glazing, modular nature and all-glass technology. The system covers almost 3,000 m2, containing partially silk-screen printed triple glazing – this helps the façade to achieve the desired thermal and acoustic performance (U-value of 1.50W/(m2.K); Ra,tr of 40 dB).

The architects emphasised that “In this densely packed urban environment, the building occupants’ acoustic comfort was a key criteria for the client. Choosing a large SSG mirror-effect curtain wall helped the building blend in with its urban surroundings while reflecting the green spaces surrounding the site. Both the mirror finish on all projecting parts of the façade and the RAL 9005 jet black matt colouring underscored this effect. Fine 5mm-wide bands of silk-screen printed glass have been inserted into the triple glazing, to enliven the façade while picking out the horizontal line of pressure plate covers. These bands are reflective, so they also act as a means of managing solar gain.”

Inward-opening SSG comfort

The new Wicline 70SG inward-opening sash is a great fit for the growing demand from architects for structural sealant glazing façades. It boasts flush exterior design and a thin frame, plus concealed hinges, sash profile and drainage. It also provides maximum user comfort alongside effective ventilation. The architects of the IÉSEG Village wanted an inward-opening safety sash. Gaëtan Peretz notes: “This new sash was recommended by Olivier, our consultants, and we’re very satisfied with the result.”

A special creation graces this particular site: a frame profile which means Wictec 50SG triple glazing can be used with an additional bracket. A total of 160 inward-opening Wicline 70SG sashes (L 1,050 mm x H 1,500 mm) were fitted during the first phase of this development.

Top environmental credentials

The IÉSEG Village is among the first projects in France to use Hydro CIRCAL ®75R low-carbon, recycled aluminium. This is one of the most sustainable aluminium alloys currently available.

The fact Wicona launched it in 2019 is testament to the Hydro Group’s long-standing commitment to combating climate change, both by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and by reducing the carbon footprint of building materials. With a minimum of 75% recycled post-consumer scrap – aluminium joinery from demolition and dismantling – this certified, top-quality material has an average carbon footprint of 2.3 kg CO2 equivalent per kilo of aluminium: six times lower than the global average.

With new French standard RE 2020 soon coming into force, Hydro CIRCAL® 75R aluminium is a key asset for any architecture project like the IÉSEG Village which aims for top environmental credentials. Arnaud Delachapelle says: “For us as architects, and for our clients, it is crucial that we build sustainably with environmentally responsible materials. Prior to this project, we had based the environmental quality of the aluminium in our buildings on registering that it would subsequently be recycled almost indefinitely. Now with Hydro CIRCAL® 75R, we have moved on from ‘good intentions’ and taken firm action upstream”.

Wicona is fully committed to the circular economy, as one of the first companies on the market to obtain Cradle to Cradle certification. Wicline 70SG sashes have had Bronze C2C certification since they first appeared on the market.

Project: IÉSEG Village, Lille

Location: Lille, Hauts-de-France

Client: IÉSEG School of Management

Architect: Trace Architectes

Company: Olivier

WICONA solutions: WICTEC 50 SG façade, Wicline 70SG concealed sash

Photo: Agence KeurK, Lille.

Press Contact

Marion Chanson, Hïkou +33 (0)6 1571 1676  marion@hikou.fr