An energy-efficient building design and a high-quality construction process are always important when constructing a new building or renovating an old one. However, in our joint climate effort, this is not enough. With their personal actions and requirements set for the subcontractors, the user of a building may achieve a great deal.
Energy-efficiency discussions about commercial buildings have emphasised the building’s energy-efficiency features, different requirements set for the construction, the quality of the construction process and how well the plans are implemented, and how carefully the construction takes place.
The huge potential for energy savings which users of buildings can affect has been discussed to a lesser extent. Energy-related discussions should pick up instead of fade out once a building is completed.
Sevenfold annual savings through investment
Modern buildings are highly advanced, filled with real estate technology. This requires competent maintenance companies, while giving an opportunity to take measures resulting in genuine long-term energy savings.
The Nordic carbon footprint programme launched by Nordea in 2008 has investigated the possibilities for decreasing the amount of electricity, district heating, oil, water, paper, waste and travelling. The published objectives per person for 2008–2016 are ambitious: a 15% decrease in the amount of energy, a decrease of 30% in internal travelling, and a 50% decrease in the consumption of paper.
During 2009, office buildings achieved the results shown in the chart. Approximately 15,000 Nordea employees are based in these buildings located in Helsinki, Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm.
Include eco-efficiency on the agenda of the executive management and as part of socially responsible operations. Set well-defined, long-term objectives which are measurable and ambitious, yet feasible.
Compile all environmental activities under the same programme. This will enable the creating of an intact, logical module, and it will also be easier to highlight small actions.
Teams are formed around different topics. The mission of the teams is to analyse the existing situation, familiarise themselves with the solutions of others, identify opportunities and to propose actions. It will be possible to get staff from different parts of the organisation involved.
Plan and implement the communication so that it is easy for everyone to understand. Translate the consumption levels to the vernacular and describe the challenges and opportunities for improving the operations so that everyone can contribute.
Address the topic continuously in communication and report on success stories, but also on worrying developments when there is a need to do so.
Certification facilitates a consistent approach
In its office buildings, Nordea has executed the LEED programme where a total of 14 buildings were certified according to the LEED Existing Building system. The certification was a good tool for organising the carbon footprint programme in the large and quite complex organisation.
Through LEED, it was possible to set out a shared concrete goal with a schedule. The office buildings included in the programme are based in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. The age of the buildings varies to a great extent. For example, the six buildings in Finland have been built between 1850–2003.
Nordea already started to take energy saving and environmental matters into account in the 1990s. In 2002, the company began preparing an annual carbon footprint report, initially only for internal purposes, however. Since 2009, the report has been part of Nordea’s public social responsibility report.
Some of the achieved savings originate from technical adjustments and installation, and some from changes taking place in the behaviour of the staff.
Technical measures taken in the office buildings to spare energy:
- centralised, automated computer shutdown after the working day
- preparing energy reviews and correcting any deficiencies
- unnecessary consumption has been identified and eliminated through follow-up measurement by the hour – installation of time-based control and adjusting the controls appropriately
- increasing the temperature of IT computer rooms, decreasing the amount of cooling to match the requirements of the existing fleet of computers
- surveying water consumption, decreasing network pressure and water flows
- renovation of the manufacturing kitchen
- using LED technology in illuminated advertisements and lighting whenever possible
It has been difficult to observe the change in staff behaviour, but the hundreds of proposals received from the staff in regard to increasing eco-efficiency prove that the staff has been inspired by the eco programme.
The new generation entering the labour market has woken us up to question old ways of action and to seek new solutions. This work will never end, the programme will continue and we can always find new possibilities for improving environmental efficiency.
Juha Olkinuora, M.Sc. (Tech.), Head of Premises and Property Management, is in charge of Nordea premises in 22 countries. Since 2008, Nordea has taken systematic measures to decrease its carbon footprint, and as part of this programme, 14 office buildings of Nordea have been awarded the LEED certification. Juha Olkinuora has been the director of the programme in question, and he is the Chairperson of Green Building Council, founded in April 2010.