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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.

Low2No Conference, Helsinki

On Tuesday we hosted about 150 guests from the media, The Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA) and the Finnish Association of Civil Engineers (RIL) to "open the books" on our design process and discuss the current state of the block in Jätkäsaari. While there was little interaction from the audience in the larger forum (which everyone tells me is a common outcome in Finland), it was generally seen as a remarkable event because we made public an incomplete design proposal and were willing to discuss the challenges we faced in getting there (it is apparently standard practice to go public only with the winning competition proposal and the final, permitted design). 

Johanna Kirkinen, Sitra; Jean Rogers, Arup
Johanna Kirkinen, Sitra; Jean Rogers, Arup

As an introduction, I will post this statement from Sitra as a placeholder until we can publish their full presentations:

A low-carbon city block in Jätkäsaari, 08 February 2011

Sitra, in co-operation with SRV and VVO has developed the Low2No Project, which is a new model for sustainable urban development. The city block being developed in Jätkäsaari is the first tangible output of the Low2No approach. As part of this innovative project, we are announcing a nearly zero energy city block with a new renewable district heating product from Helsingin Energia and a timber construction solution for Sitra's future offices.

Low2No is an abbreviation of the phrase "from low carbon to no carbon," recognizing that we must transition our cities to a more sustainable future. The project includes multiple initiatives aimed at producing a sustainable, low carbon built environment and creating the preconditions for an ecological urban life. Through continuous development, Low2No will gradually shift the ways that cities are built through application of practical measures that balance economy, ecology and society.

Geothermal pre-design
Geothermal pre-design

The energy efficiency of buildings and technology are only one small part of sustainable urban development. It is also critical to enable low carbon, low energy consumption habits which increase the well-being of people and reduce impact on the environment.

Building integrated photovoltaics
Building integrated photovoltaics

The city block in Jätkäsaari is the first location where the Low2No model will be developed and specified in practice. In addition to apartments and Sitra's headquarters, the block will have grocery stores offering local food, an ecological laundry, public sauna, cafe and opportunities for small-scale urban cultivation. The team of international and Finnish designers of the block introduced the project's current status at a sustainable urban development conference arranged jointly by Sitra, the Finnish Association of Architects, and Suomen Rakennusinsinöörien Liitto on 8 February.

"SRV and VVO will build about 200 apartments in the block, and Sitra's new premises will be built there. Over half of the apartments will be owner-occupied, and some of them will be funded through the Hitas system. The rest will be rented apartments of VVO," says Timo Kokkila of SRV and Esa Kankainen of VVO.

"Sitra's office building will account for slightly less than one-third of the permitted building volume of 22,000 square metres and it will be built of wood," says Jukka Noponen, Sitra's Energy Programme.

Energy production bundles or options to meet EPBD
Energy production bundles or options to meet EPBD

The project is designed to comply with the nearly zero energy use and optimized on-site renewable energy production requirements that will be established under the EU's Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) which will take effect in 2020. In addition, negotiations with Helsingin Energia lead to the development of a coal-free, renewable district heating product that will provide heating energy for the block. It is hoped that this agreement will accelerate the replacement of fossil fuels with bio-fuels in Helsingin Energia's fuel mix. Other energy solutions include a geothermal heat system for pre-heating the ventilation system, district cooling, and building integrated solar power technologies to meet a significant portion of electricity demand. The block will also have a smart energy network and real-time electricity monitoring to optimize use and reduce emissions. 

February 11th, 2011

Posted by: Justin W. Cook

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Category: Field Reports