A perfect indoor climate: Northern comforts

When the Norwegian engineering company Framo planned their new headquarters with flexible, non-uniform office spaces, production halls, a gym and a swimming pool, the results were spectacular. But would its building management system be able to keep up with all the versatility?

In February 2015, the engineering company Framo moved into their impressive, new headquarters near Bergen, Norway. The building, called Sjølivet (“living at the sea”), offers a number of challenges for maintenance and energy efficiency, including huge glass facades, rooms in all sorts of shapes and sizes – and a 25 meters long swimming pool! 


“Sjølivet is indeed a very complex building”, says Lief Sæterdal, head of maintenance at Framo, “with high demands for efficiency and comfort, as well as flexibility.” Rooms may be used for a number of purposes and may also be rebuilt or rearranged during the building’s life span. Moreover, there is a major difference in climate control between production areas and the office building. Framo needed a building management system that could facilitate all of this.

“As I understand it, the complexity in this building was the reason the builders, together with Framo, chose to go for the Desigo building automation system from Siemens,” says Sæterdal. And one and half years since the opening of Sjølivet, the results are impressive. Energy savings are up to 60 or 70 percent against comparable systems and the building has an almost perfect indoor climate.

Minimal effort, maximal flexibility

“The system gives us the tools to adjust the climate in all rooms at once when we need it,” says Sæterdal, “or to change it in a number of rooms, which means both better energy efficiency and a better environment for the staff.”


The system is also designed to accommodate changes in the building with minimal effort. For example, new radiators can be installed just by fastening in to the wall, making a simple connection to Desigo and doing a few minor software adjustments. All in all, the work takes only a few hours.

Framo has not had a single hour of downtime in this building due to the indoor climate or other building management related issues. And as we know, low downtime is very important for the overall economy.
Leif Sæterdal, Maintenance Manager, Framo

“Thanks to the flexibility of the Desigo system all changes and adjustments have been easy to carry through,” says Sæterdal. “Framo has not had a single hour of downtime in this building due to the indoor climate or other building management related issues. And as we know, low downtime is very important for the overall economy.”


Responsible for the installation and maintenance of Sjølivet’s management system is the Bergen-based Bautec, a company that has worked with Siemens before in complex building projects. “The building’s complexity and demand for flexibility really tested the system,” says Tore André Haugen, managing director at Bautec, “but it met the challenge. The fact that Desigo is an open system meant that we could use it to manage even equipment and systems outside the traditional room administration. Systems such as the swimming pool and the audio-visual systems could be handled through the Desigo, which makes the use and maintenance of the building much easier for the Framo service staff.”

The key to energy efficiency

That open system is also the key to high energy efficiency, says Haugen. Everything is built into the same platform. In older buildings, different monitoring systems were used for heating, cooling and ventilation. When the temperature was too low, the heating would be triggered. And when the room was warm enough, the cooling or ventilation would come on. This meant a constant risk for systems to compete with each other, causing energy waste. With Desigo, sensors monitor the room climate and keep the climate perfect with a minimal change of a single parameter. Instead of increasing the cooling it lowers the heat, and fans are always running at an optimal pace.


The maintenance team at Framo have constant access to support from Bautec, but as Sæterdal points out, it is a support that can be done most of the time from Bautec’s office in Bergen: “We mainly meet during the annual review of the system,” says Sæterdal. “This is when we go through every single part of the system, and test a large number of functions in office rooms, production halls and all kinds of spaces.”

So far, only one annual review has been carried out in June 2016. The review took around a week to complete, testing all parts of the system and every single piece of equipment. Siemens supplied the climate system’s electronic equipment as well, which has proven to be very reliable and durable. “Not much has been exchanged so far,” says Haugen. “Compared to other projects we have worked on this has been the smoothest ever, despite the fact that it was by far the largest.”


To create a perfect indoor climate this far north in the winter, Sjølivet takes advantage of the close access to seawater. Water is pumped with a constant temperature of 8 degrees Celsius into the building where a heat exchanger takes out a few degrees of heat. The water is then used as a heating agent in the climate system, so nature together with a minimal amount of energy is used to produce the ideal indoor climate. “And the Desigo system,” Sæterdal notes, “makes sure that we only pump exactly the amount of water required.”


Nils Lindstrand is a journalist based in Stockholm, Sweden.

Picture credits: David Zadig

Framo AS, based in Bergen, Norway, is the leading manufacturer of submerged pumping systems for shipping and offshore industry. In 2015 Framo moved into their new headquarters, a modern building managed with the Siemens building management system Desigo.


Bautec AS, established in 2012, is an engineering company in Bergen, Norway, that specializes in automation and energy efficiency for the management and monitoring of large commercial buildings. Bautec installed and maintains the Desigo system for Framo’s headquarters.

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