Helsinki to unleash energy efficiency potential in buildings


Helsinki, Finland. Photo credit: iStock / benedek.

By Anders Lorenzen

Helsinki, the Finish capital is unleashing what many consider the most undervalued but nevertheless powerful clean energy technology; energy efficiency.

Enless Wireless

The city has joined a Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment developed by the World Green Building Council.

The commitment has been adopted by both private companies as well as local authorities and pledges that the participants must ensure that their portfolios produce net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. In addition, the city has set a separate goal that it must be fully carbon neutral by 2035. In setting this goal energy efficiency plays a big part as more than 50% of emissions in the city comes from buildings. Therefore city authorities have set a range of clear energy efficiency targets aimed at buildings which they hope will achieve that goal.

To measure their progress on energy efficiency and other climate initiatives they also launched Climate Watch which is an online tool that would assess each of Helsinki’s 147 measures as laid out in Carbon Neutral Helsinki 2035 Action Plan. The plan details that the energy efficiency of a building must be 20 per cent lower than required in national legislation. And all new residential buildings built for the city must have the highest energy efficiency rating, class A.

The city is also preparing what they call an Energy Renaissance programme which aims to speed up energy renovations made in privately-owned buildings. It is hoped this would reduce the use of heating energy by dozens of per cents in the entire building stock by 2035. This should increase the consulting for carrying out energy renovations and increasing renewable energy as well as planning neighbourhoods more aligned to carbon neutrality and help homeowners building energy-efficient solutions. City authorities believe emissions from buildings can be reduced by as much as 80%. 

Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori said: “Climate change is the most crucial challenge of our time and Helsinki is at the forefront of the fight against it. The heating energy needed must be reduced systematically. That is why the buildings are at the core of the fight against climate change. Helsinki is committed to carrying out very ambitious measures on its portfolio of buildings to reduce the heating consumption and increase the use of renewable energy. Through our own actions, we lead others to take action as well,” he said.

Energy efficiency has for long been cast in the shadows of the sexier clean energy technologies such as wind and solar. But the Finish capital looks determined to give it a makeover.

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