A new model area for sustainable development being built in Espoo: energy-efficient buildings close to nature and the metro

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2020-06-09 15:34

The new city district of Finnoo under construction in western Espoo combines closeness to nature with excellent services and transport connections in a unique way.

Nestled between Länsiväylä and the sea, the area will provide homes for 17,000 residents and thousands of jobs. According to Project Manager Kimmo Leivo from the City of Espoo, Finnoo is a pioneer in sustainable urban development:

“The development of Finnoo is steered by sustainable solutions in all areas, from planning to energy consumption and building materials.”

Havainnekuva Finnoon metroasemasta.

The key asset of Finnoo is the metro that quickly takes you to Helsinki city center and back. (Illustration: Cederqvist & Jäntti Arkkitehdit Oy).

The new city district will be mostly completed in the 2030s. According to Leivo, dense urban development near good public transport connections reduces emissions by allowing people to go to work and access recreational services conveniently via public transport, bicycle or on foot instead of using their own car.

“Finnoo provides excellent opportunities for this, as all of the area’s services, from shops to day care centres, are only a short distance away,” states Leivo.

The area is being developed with a major focus on smooth public transport as well. Finnoo’s trump card is the metro, which provides rapid access to Helsinki and back.

“Cars are also taken into account, but they do not dictate the development of the area,” says the City of Espoo’s Regional Architect Mervi Hokkanen.

Construction steered by low emissions

Espoo aims to become a carbon neutral city by 2030. This means that the city would produce only as much carbon emissions as it could sequester itself.

According to Kimmo Leivo, Finnoo adheres to the principles of low-emissions, low-energy building.

“All building in Finnoo is steered by the City’s energy-efficiency criteria, which operators selected to contribute to the area are required to commit to.”

For example, property developers can earn additional points for the selection process by calculating the carbon footprint of buildings over their entire lifecycle. In the tendering processes related to the transfer of plots, developers can also earn additional points for new innovative solutions that improve energy-efficiency.

Energy can be saved by collecting waste heat from buildings’ ventilation systems and wastewater, for example. Smart building services engineering that steers energy consumption also has a major impact.

“Some of the residential area’s electricity is generated using solar panels installed on the roofs of the buildings,” Leivo points out.

One of the buildings’ heat sources could be geothermal heat, which can be harnessed by drilling two-kilometre-deep geothermal wells. Planning is currently underway to construct the first geothermal local heating network in Finland in the first part of Finnoo to be built.

“It would enable the building of a residential area with zero emissions from heating and cooling,” Leivo says.

Tyttö kävelee rantaraitilla.

For lovers of nature, Finnoo offers excellent possibilities for outdoor activities by the sea. (Picture: Janne Ketola).

The district will also feature a district cooling network, which is a much more environmentally friendly way of cooling dwellings than multiple building-specific cooling systems. The area’s district cooling network is based on Fortum’s heat pump facility, which produces the cooled water necessary for cooling while collecting energy from wastewater or seawater.

The importance of Finnoo as a model area for sustainable development is emphasised by the nature reserves located in the area – a valuable bird wetland and a forest inhabited by Siberian flying squirrels, which is located in the immediate vicinity of one of the metro station’s entrances.

For nature-lovers, Finnoo also offers excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation in a seaside environment. The area will include a wealth of verdant green spaces. Those itching for a longer trek can also head out to the Waterfront Walkway or Espoo Central Park.

Discover Finnoo

The article has been published on hs.fi before.