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The Low2No project is designed to help transition our cities to a low carbon future. We aim to balance economy, ecology and society through strategic investments and interventions in the built environment.

01. Week in Review

Happy New Year!

Week 01 of 2011 was surprisingly busy, but mostly with internal processes that are gearing up for events and publications later this winter and spring. For instance, we have come to recognize that ventilation (mechanical versus natural or mixed) is one of the most contentious issues in Finland's sustainable building debate. We have struggled mightily with the conflict between natural ventilation's apparent incompatibility with Finland's strict indoor air quality standards and its promise as a way to reduce building energy demand. 

Studying the effects of massing on energy consumption
Studying the effects of massing on energy consumption

Three elements of a low carbon building: demand reduction; onsite energy generation; and green energy delivery to the site.
Three elements of a low carbon building: demand reduction; onsite energy generation; and green energy delivery to the site.

As we go deeper into the issue, significant fundamental questions have emerged: is Finland's air quality standard too strictly calibrated to an imaginary Finn who demands room temperature be regulated to the tenth of a degree? In other words, as we have seen in healthcare, is statistical analysis getting in the way of physical science (in this case, building physics)? Is worker productivity significantly impacted by fluidity or variation in light and temperature? Is "worker productivity" an outdated relic of Finland's brief industrial era? Do knowledge workers need a nearly silent environment to do their best work?

The answers to these questions cannot be answered by Sitra and thus we are sounding out a possible public event held in the spring where we use Low2No as a test case and examine the impacts of different ventilation, lighting and acoustical conditions on the indoor environment. It seems that for the first Low2No block, our options in this area may be limited. But that does not mean that we are excused from carefully studying current regulations and questioning their performance in the face of larger goals such as improved energy efficiency and facilitating a modern, knowledge-driven workplace. We hope that a public debate will around the conditions/demands we faced and the decisions we made will help push forward the important work of aligning regulatory intent with building performance. 

January 9th, 2011

Posted by: Justin W. Cook

Category: Weeknotes