A Greener Tomorrow: Fossil-Free Piping Solution for a World Heritage Site

23. August 2023 | 5 min read

The quaint mining town of Røros, Norway, boasts iconic wooden architecture, which has earned it both traveler affection and a UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The local municipality has strict rules for development to preserve the town's visual identity, and local construction projects are coordinated in a way that minimizes disruptions. As Røros recently rehabilitated its drainage and stormwater networks, the stakeholders also seized the opportunity to install highly durable, fossil-free cable protection systems, future-proofing the town's electrical grid. 

Old street architecture of mining town Roros in Norway. Wooden, colorful buildings. UNESCO world heritage list.

Blending in with History and Minimizing Impacts 

Between the tranquil and narrow streets in the Røros center, a new library has been recently constructed. Instead of using modern materials and following the latest architectural trends, the building was made from wood beams — seamlessly blending in with its historic surroundings.  

As the project required digging trenches to connect the library to the town's underground communications, this offered an opportunity to renovate drainage, stormwater and cable protection lines in the area. Aligning the various construction works means significantly lower disturbance for the environment and fewer disruptions for the Røros community.  

The local grid operator Røros E-verk Nett AS is one of the stakeholders in the extensive renovation project. The company is ISO 14001 certified, bearing a proven record of minimizing environmental impacts and promoting sustainability according to the international standard. Hence, when installing cable protection pipes in the town center, the operator prioritized bringing down the associated CO2 emissions. 

"When the municipality needs to rehabilitate their pipe network, it is easy for us to use the open trenches and update our infrastructure as well," says Lars Hofstad, Network Manager at Røros E-verk Nett AS. "We are working in a forward-looking way to avoid repeated digging up, which is more sustainable for both parties."  


Reducing Emissions Across the Value Chain 

While less digging itself offers considerable emission savings, Røros E-verk Nett AS also opted for a sustainable cable protection solution from Pipelife Norway's portfolio. The Protectline cable protection pipes used in the project are fossil-free as they are produced from bio-attributed PVC based on a mass balance concept.  

The bio-attributed material bears the same excellent chemical and mechanical properties as conventionally sourced PVC but is produced from a renewable feedstock derived from non-food biomass.  

Swapping fossil raw materials for a fossil-free alternative allowed reducing the project emissions by 78%. Moreover, the design of Protectline pipes ensures simple cable extraction and replacement — without repeated digging in the future. This way, the used cables can be recycled, offering even greater sustainability benefits. 

"As we bear the ISO 14001 environmental certification, we see it as our duty to choose climate-friendly solutions," states Hofstad. "We consistently rely on Pipelife's fossil-free cable protection pipes — also for the projects that will be coming up in the future." 


Fossil-Free Piping Makes a Difference 

The library construction and related renovations started in August 2022, and Pipelife Norway supplied almost 5 kilometers of fossil-free 215-mm cable protection pipes for the project. As the building season in the north-located town is short, the last works will be completed this autumn. 

For Pipelife, the project has served as an opportunity to showcase the advantages of bio-based piping systems to environmentally conscious partners and customers. Kåre Yttervik, Key Account Manager at Pipelife Norway, emphasizes that clients can count on equally high quality and service life that they expect from traditionally sourced products. 

"It is important that electric utilities such as Røros E-verk Nett AS set the example. Our fossil-free pipes are a future-oriented product and can also be recycled at the end of their operational lifespan," Yttervik says. 

The Røros project and its impressive emission savings have already earned recognition from Norway's environmental specialists, such as the ZERO foundation — an independent, non-profit organization, promoting practical solutions to the climate crisis. 

"In this project, Røros E-verk Nett AS and Pipelife demonstrate that it is possible to simultaneously address several sustainability aspects like cable recycling and using fossil-free plastic from renewable raw materials," says Sindre Østby Stub, Technical Manager at ZERO. "Smart use of plastic can be an important and correct environmental and climate solution."  

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