Sustainable Cities suerbruch-hutton

Published on September 27th, 2012 | by Ellen R Delisio


Finland to Build Low2No Block in Jätkäsaari


Finland’s first Low2No project is underway in the Jätkäsaari district of Helsinki, with supporters hoping it becomes the model for low-carbon and carbon-neutral living.

Low2No, which is short for from low carbon to no carbon, is an approach to creating communities that evolve from low carbon emissions to zero.

The idea is to not just introduce low-energy and low-carbon techniques in constructing and maintaining the buildings, but also in residents’ lifestyles as well. Finland has committed to reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

The district is located on about 22,000 square meters on the site of a former container port. Plans call for mixed-use development, including about 200 homes, stores and offices. More than 50 percent of the apartments will be owner-occupied, while some will be funded through the Hitas system, according to Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund. The rest of the apartments will be owned and rented by VVO. Besides a traditional supermarket, space is reserved for shops offering local food, a public sauna and a green laundry. Residents also will be allotted space for gardens.

“One of the primary ideas with the project is to include the citizens as much as possible,” said Juha Toimela, Director at SRV Group construction company, the project developer and the contractor. “For instance, there will be smart systems installed in the apartments. In each living space there will be a smart board and an interface system, so that the residents will be informed about their consumption with real time information. That way we are able to guide the users to look over their energy usage. In the long run, the ultimate goal is to start changing the behavior.”

Building designs and maintenance systems, food production and transportation all are being designed to minimize carbon emissions.  Networks of trolleys and trains are planned to give residents easy access to public transportation.

Among the cleantech innovations in the district are the use of Finnish lumber in construction, to meet the goal of using building materials that have a lower impact on the environment in terms of toxicity and embodied carbon, Sitra noted. A waste disposal system is being created to suction separated trash through underground pipes and deposit it at a central disposal point. The construction of the new city block is scheduled to start next spring.

In June, the SRV Group construction company assumed the development responsibility for Low2No from Sitra, although Sitra remains involved in a supervisory role. SRV is partnering with VVO, a public limited liability company specializing in housing rental services.
Organizers are hopeful that the Low2No block will become a “living laboratory” and provide information and evidence that will guide and shape policies and practices for future low – and no – carbon development both in new and existing buildings. The project does however include some challenges:

“Since we will have both housing and offices which have different goals, there is a challenge in designing and developing the project and producing energy for the entire city block. In rural locations, you can often work with soil energy for heating and cooling. Here, it is not possible, and we only have place for a limited amount of solar panels. Our goal is to have a renewable energy agreement with local energy producers,” said Juha Toimela.

The project is based on the winning entry submitted by the multinational team ARUP-Sauerbruch/Hutton-Experientia-Galley Eco Capital to an international competition on sustainable construction design sponsored by Sitra. ARUP proposed an innovative funding model for developing Low2No into the first carbon-neutral district in Finland, according to the city of Helsinki.

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