The new Vega school in Vännäs, Sweden´s most energy efficient school building


Logga VännäsVännäs is a small municipality in the inner parts of Västerbotten county in northern Sweden.
The Nya Vegaskolan in is built as Passive House according to the international Passive House criteria (PHI). It will also be certified according to the sustainable certification system “Miljöbyggnad Guld” (“environmentalfriendly building, Gold standard”). This is so far unique for Sweden. The building envelope and insulation is of 100% renewable materials. The building area is 4260 m2 on two levels and will be used by 600 pupils and 35 teachers.

The heat demand is 87% below current Swedish building regulations and the total energy demand is 80% below the building standard. Certification criteria for total specific primary energy demand is ≤ 120 kWh/m2a, for heating ≤ 15 kWh/m2a). All energy calculations have been done with the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP). Use of low-emission products is a further important part of the project.

Vegaskola2The new school replaces a damp damaged building which also contained asbestos-containing components and which has been located at the same place. There will be no new sealed surfaces.

The decision to build the new Vegaskolan as a model project for sustainable building was taken in 2012. The planning process started 2013, the same year the municipality agreed to follow the MountEE pilot project criteria. The construction work started fall 2014 and the building is expected to be completed late summer 2015.

The main objectives for the project “Ecological and sustainable passive house school” were:
• Implementation of all policy decisions of the City Council taken in the context of sustainable living and building.
• To fulfill and implement the European targets of near-to-zero energy building for the years after 2018 for public buildings and 2020 for all buildings, already today.
• To showcase the possibility of a zero energy, zero waste and zero Pollution building.
• To create a NZEB as far north as possible in Europe.
• The design of a resource-effective building in all areas.
• The reduction of CO₂ emissions plus achieving a negative CO₂ balance in the life cycle of 50 years.

VegaskolaSome main lessons learned during the planning and construction process:

1) It is possible to build certified Passive Houses in the cold climate of North Sweden. This is of high importance for the ongoing discussion in Sweden how to implement the EU building directive in Sweden. E.g. the national Swedish building authority Boverket is arguing that the current building standard in Sweden (e.g. 130 kWh/m2/a for Northern Sweden) is in fact already what should be seen as NZEB standard for (North) Sweden.

2) The use of the LCC method was crucial for the success of the project. The cooperation between the architect and Vännäs municipality was very fruitful and even the involvement of stakeholders and future users was an essential part of the project work.

3) A lot of communication and information activities were carried out from the very beginning of the planning work. The project was seen as a lighthouse project for Vännäs municipality from a very early stage of the planning process.

4) The procurement of ecological and low-energy building materials was decisive for the success of the project and sometimes a real challenge.


Wolfgang Mehl (Nenet)

Author: Wolfgang Mehl (Nenet)

I work as project manager for e environmental and energy-related programs for Nenet and the north Swedish municipality Jokkmokk.

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