Innovation Director Heikki Ihasalo: “Innovation is needed throughout the entire lifecycle of a building”
3.1.2023 – Heikki Ihasalo, who started as Granlund's Innovation Director in January, emphasises the importance of joint work and willingness in the building services industry. Innovation is needed throughout the entire lifecycle of a building.
According to Heikki Ihasalo, who has gone from Granlund’s Technology Director to Innovation Director, construction and the simultaneous creation of innovations in the field is, first and foremost, about working together and networking.
“Hundreds or even thousands of parties may be involved in projects, so no one can bring about a major systemic change alone. Developing the sector further requires a common desire.”
Granlund’s Innovation Director Heikki Ihasalo is also the Professor of Practice of Aalto University’s Smart Buildings and Services research group.
“In the world of research, I get to look at construction far into the future. At Granlund, I get to implement innovations quickly into business.”
Innovation is needed throughout the entire lifecycle of a building
In Ihasalo’s opinion, the importance of innovations in building services is emphasised because technology plays such an important role in people’s everyday lives now and in the future.
“In Western countries, most time is spent indoors, so heat, electricity, good indoor air and safety are very important.”
The building services industry is also driven by tightening energy efficiency requirements and climate change. There is a lot to do, but Ihasalo would not focus on partial optimisation of individual things, but rather on a functional whole.
“At Granlund, we tend to look at building services from the perspective of the entire lifecycle of a building, and the same applies to innovations. They are needed not only for design, but also for construction and maintenance.”
The innovation strategy guides multi-level development work
The roots of the development work at Granlund go back at least to the 1980s, when the research world began to promote building information modelling and energy simulations.
“Today, digital twins, analytics and the optimisation of buildings are at the forefront of development,” says Ihasalo.
Each year, Granlund invests approximately six per cent of its net sales in multi-level development activities, and this is not the sole responsibility of the Innovation Department.
“All businesses, departments and people are involved in innovation and the strategy projects that support it.”
In Ihasalo’s opinion, sustainability is guaranteed by an innovation strategy, which has three main themes. The first is the use of data throughout the lifecycle of a building.
“We want to take the data produced in design to construction and maintenance. The lessons learned should also be brought back to design, because each project is unique.”
Another theme of the innovation strategy is smart wellbeing, that is, healthy, safe and comfortable indoor conditions. The third theme, artificial intelligence, is Ihasalo’s own field.
“Artificial intelligence helps us automate many work tasks, and machine learning enables us to predict the future instead of just reporting the past.”
Heikki Ihasalo is stepping into the shoes of Tuomas Laine, who is going from Innovation Director to Senior Advisor, with calm and confidence.
“It is nice to continue the work that has already been ongoing for a long time, and that looks far ahead. It creates certainty in all development activities.”
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