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.

49. Week in Review

Carefully measured compromise has been the name of the game this week.  Deep in the DNA of Low2No is an embrace of market pressures, dominant business models and political realities.  We know that complete/unilateral solutions (such as Masdar) and wholesale adoption of entirely new risk models are not plausible expectations for the sustainable redevelopment of our cities.  This distinguishes Low2No as a transitional strategy that works with conditions as they are found on the ground in developed cities and economies, and proposes a pathway forward toward a carbon-balanced built environment.  Low2No is a way to move from here to there when we know that the there is not possible now.

Jätkäsaari (background) and Ruoholahti (foreground) seen from Sitra's 11th floor, December 2010
Jätkäsaari (background) and Ruoholahti (foreground) seen from Sitra's 11th floor, December 2010

As much as we would like to deliver the No-carbon project as the first instance of Low2No, we must keep in mind that this could happen only if we created an exemption from the forces that we claim to embrace.

As such, the client team has agreed on some crucial elements that will guide detailed development of the Low2No block.  First, we will use the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) as a baseline for energy consumption and production targets.  While the final interpretation and implementation of the EPBD will be agreed upon by each Member State over the next 18 months (with 2020 as the implementation target), we have agreed on a rough interpretation for Low2No that we hope will serve as a model for Finland’s internal debate.  This will be discussed more in subsequent posts, but boils down to construction of nearly net-zero energy buildings with some onsite production capacity.

Second, Sitra will pursue a timber-based solution for the office building.  Our commitment to timber stems from a recognition of its untapped potential in the Finnish market, aesthetic and structural qualities, carbon sequestration capacity and its potential for reuse.  The residential buildings will likely be primarily concrete with timber added where possible (again, compromise).

Third, we will continue to develop robust demand management systems and a low carbon commercial and service strategy.  More on this great work later.

Elsewhere, Jukka brings us word that the Ministry of Environment is continuing its work on incorporating timber construction up to 8 floors into the Finnish building code.  It is hoped that draft regulations will be completed soon and the final steps will be finished by Spring 2011, during the final year of the present government.  It may be a little late for Low2No, but we hope the regulatory authorities will see our project as a chance to test coming codes.

Also, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy (TEM) has announced a national center for energy advice.  This is built on work that Sitra’s Energy Programme initiated almost two years ago when it began to finance energy advisory pilot projects.



December 14th, 2010

Posted by: Justin W. Cook

Category: Weeknotes