The Norwegian Maritime Competence Center (NMCC) in Ålesund stands for sustainability and innovation. It is a place where constructive minds meet to research and debate about intelligent solutions for the space of tomorrow and what will be feasible and conceivable in the future.
Sustainability and innovation are playing an increasingly important role and have also become major factors for investors. The Nordic countries are vanguards in this respect. They have long-standing experience in the use of wood for single-family homes and are also pioneers when it comes to multi-storey wooden buildings. At 86 metres, the 18-storey wooden hotel in Norway holds the record in terms of altitude. And they are also ahead of the pack when it comes to new technologies and smart projects.
NMCC – Norwegian Maritime Competence Center
The port city of Ålesund, nestled between high mountains and branched fjords on the northwest coast of Norway, sets a good example. It is home to the Norwegian Maritime Competence Center (Norsk Maritimt Kompetansesenter, NMK), one of the most innovative institutions in the country and part of the Ålesund campus. It is a regional hub for education, research and business development and is characterised by a diverse mix of tenants from business, science and the public sector. The tenants themselves describe themselves as a “high-tech business cluster” with a strong forward-looking approach that is also reflected in the standard of the building complex and the composition of the various tenant types.
Robots in the Lab
New models and technologies are tested and promoted here, from the bottom of the sea to the universe. For example, the Offshore Simulator Centre (OSC) develops simulations and visualisations of complex maritime processes in collaboration with shipping companies, equipment suppliers and research institutions. It is also involved in the development of Augment City and Digital Twin to simulate the city of tomorrow today. The United Future Lab, also a tenant at the NMCC, is leading the way in this area. It was founded as a partnership between the public sector, science, industry and business to promote the sustainable and intelligent development of the city and the region.
U4SSC – United for Smart Sustainable Cities
The Future Lab is a member of the UN Implementation Program U4SSC (United for Smart Sustainable Cities)1. As such, it is part of a global network in which cities from all over the world exchange their knowledge in order to develop sustainable and intelligent solutions for urban space. By collecting and evaluating data on traffic volumes, mobility, electricity and water consumption or street lighting systems, scenarios can be simulated that enable more accurate, efficient and future-proof decisions to be made.
It is not only the special tenant mix of the NMCC that stands for innovation and sustainability. The building complex itself was also recently singled out for an award for the second time. Following the BREEAM2 In-Use rating “very good” in 2021, there has now been a further enhancement to “excellent” at the beginning of 2023. In contrast to other certifications, it is not the property that is evaluated here, but its operation. The focus of the weighting is on reducing energy, water and waste consumption as well as the CO2 footprint. Measurements are made over a minimum period of 12 months.
The certification process is very time-consuming, especially since a very extensive document has to be produced. A 400-page handbook lists the criteria that have to be considered. In order to be able to provide the required data, preliminary work is also needed such as installing meters to record water consumption, while information on the storage of chemicals, proof of the efficiency of the equipment as well as socio-economic factors such as changing rooms and bicycle stands also play a role in the evaluation.
The effort was worth it. After all, the “excellent” rating not only brings prestige, but also financial advantages when banks grant loans at more favourable conditions. In this case, the bank agreed to reduce the margin of the loan agreement by ten basis points. This award also received an extremely positive response in the local media and equally positive feedback from tenants, who see this rating as an upgrade of their rented space and at the same time use the BREEAM In-Use certification as an advertisement to draw attention to their own sustainability efforts.
1 The United for SmartSustainable Cities (U4SSC) is a UN initiative created to fosterstandardisation, integration and interoperability of digital technologieswithin cities to make them smarter and more sustainable. The initiative hasdeveloped a set of international key performance indicators (KPIs) for SmartSustainable Cities (SSC) to establish criteria to evaluate ICTs' contributionsto making cities smarter and more sustainable, and to provide cities with themeans for self-assessment in the move towards smartness and sustainability. Theaim is to help cities worldwide use technology to serve the best interests ofthe people and the environment. For this reason environmental aspects as wellas socio-economic factors also play a key role in the U4SSC framework.
2 BREEAM:Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method