Finnoo will become a more energy efficient residential area

Finnoo, a new residential area in Espoo, is to become a prime example of sustainable development. The property developers in the area are being pointed towards energy-efficient solutions. There is no single correct way of being energy efficient.

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The world is being changed one step at a time or, in the case of Espoo, one building at a time. Espoo has planned the Finnoo residential area in such a way that property developers must meet certain sustainable development criteria to be eligible to obtain a plot of land.

"Espoo aims to continue being at the spearhead of sustainable development. It is possible to make major changes through town planning and plot allocation. Dense and efficient urban construction near good public transport, requirements attached to plots of land and the entire life cycles of buildings are things that make a lot of difference," says Kimmo Leivo, a Project Director at the City of Espoo.

Granlund has been working with Espoo's town planning centre to prepare the energy plan for the central area of Finnoo, as well as a set of energy efficiency criteria for Finnoo as a whole, which will determine how energy efficiency will be steered and how it will be compared while the buildings are in use.

"One important way of controlling energy efficiency is to attach energy criteria to land use: they ensure that energy efficiency is elevated to the desired standard in Finnoo in comparison with traditional projects. The purpose of energy criteria is to make sure that the components of sustainable development are taken into consideration in construction," says Juha Viholainen, the Granlund energy consultant responsible for the project.

What is required of property developers in Finnoo?

The criteria for plot allocation are not locked to individual procedural solutions; instead, efforts have been made to allow for a sufficiently wide range of different implementation methods.

"The criteria are goal-oriented but reasonable: nothing fancy is required, and the technology needed to meet the criteria is already available. We have left some room for innovation in our criteria scoring scheme," Kimmo Leivo says.

According to Leivo, property developers have shown a healthy amount of trepidation about the plot allocation requirements. Almost all of them are already making promises on their websites to take corporate responsibility and sustainable development into consideration, and the Finnoo area will be an opportunity to find out what their pledges are worth.

Repeatable project: the houses of the future

Alongside criteria to steer the design of buildings, comparisons of the energy efficiency of each residential building will also be made when the buildings in the Finnoo pilot area are in use. The data taken from the buildings will be public, which will serve to direct property developers to aim for good energy efficiency outcomes. The intention is that the collected data can be utilised in the future when Espoo designs other areas.

"Energy-related perspectives were considered from the very start of the design of Finnoo, and the guiding process has now been updated. Construction companies have attended workshops and highlighted their opinions on how their buildings could be compared fairly and what plot allocation conditions could be required," Juha Viholainen says.

Data must be collected for years in Finnoo before a precise understanding can be obtained to show how an urban district behaves from the perspective of energy. However, the first steps have been taken. Espoo hopes that measurement data will also be collected in our regional development projects.

"Hopefully other cities will be keen to deploy similar systems so it will be possible to compare data and find out how well energy is being used in different areas. If necessary, legislation could be developed in Finland if certain things prove to have a substantial effect on emissions and energy use. We have high expectations," Kimmo Leivo summarises.

Finnoo pilot project

• To be eligible to obtain a plot of land in Finnoo, property developers must meet a certain number of criteria for achieving energy efficiency.

• The criteria are goal-oriented but they have been thought through with common sense. Points are awarded for various matters related to energy efficiency, some of which are mandatory and some voluntary.

• Finnoo is a concrete test platform for energy measurement. The energy data will be used to create indicators for the buildings in Finnoo, enabling energy efficiency to be compared in the fairest possible way once the buildings are in use.

• The data collected from the buildings will be public, and it can be utilised in the future when other areas are designed.

How can the energy efficiency requirements be attained?

Granlund proposed a two-part scoring system that takes mandatory and voluntary criteria into consideration.

Examples of mandatory criteria:

• An energy plan for the building and an energy designer for the construction project

• E value 5% lower than the required minimum level

• Commitment to energy efficiency comparisons when the building is in use

Examples of voluntary criteria:

• E value 10–20% lower than the level required by law

• Low-temperature heat distribution in buildings

• Investments in solar power or other renewable energy to bypass the emissions caused by cooling and heating

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