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Energy-smart town planning saves millions


Jukka Noponen


If all new districts were planned like Skaftkärr in Porvoo, local authorities could save up to EUR 2 billion by 2020. Porvoo’s energy-efficient land use planning is already raising interest all around Finland.

The Skaftkärr project to develop and test energy-efficient land use planning has shown that significant savings and emission cuts could be achieved in Finland by including energy and emission impact assessment into all land use planning processes.

“Land use could be more efficient if energy solutions were planned and compared at the planning stage – and efficient land use saves money,” according to Sitra Director Jukka Noponen, who was speaking at Skaftkärr project’s final seminar on 2 October.

“If the whole of Finland followed the example of Skaftkärr, EUR 170–240 million could be saved every year from municipal infrastructure budgets – that’s approximately 5 percent of all municipal investments. In addition, savings in traffic fuel could reach EUR 80–110 million per year by 2020, which means approximately EUR 160 for each inhabitant of a new residential area,” says Noponen.

The calculations are based on the assumption that in the next ten years all new districts will be planned in an energy-smart manner. In practice, this requires investment in areas such as the steering of land use planning. But Noponen says an encouraging start has been made: “The project has raised wide interest, and many municipalities have contacted us. It can be said that the Skaftkärr project has launched energy-efficient land use planning in Finland.”

The Deputy Mayor of Porvoo also believes the town’s scheme can be a launch pad for the rest of the country: “Changes in the way of thinking are at least as important as the actual measures carried out within the project. We wish to be active in the mitigation of the global climate change. I believe that the Skaftkärr project is the key to a whole new kind of Finnish urban development,” says Fredrick von Schoultz.

Finland’s urban future?

Porvoo’s major utility firm was one of the scheme’s main financial backers and partners. “The Skaftkärr project is also well matched with the values of Porvoon Energia,” says the company’s Managing Director Patrick Wackström. “Low-emission district heating and the utilisation of solar energy are on the rise, and will require new business models from power companies. Further work will show whether the model of the future will be, for example, one of solar-based district heating.”

In the Toukovuori district of Skaftkärr, energy-efficiency and consciousness of the carbon footprint show in many ways. Traffic is responsible for a major share of the carbon footprint and the total energy consumption; for this reason, the Toukovuori district was planned so as to find solutions to improve the conditions for walking, cycling and public transport. Apartment buildings and row houses are placed as close to the public transport and fast cycling routes as possible, in the vicinity of the existing town structure.

The area will be densely built, wood will be the preferred building material, district heating will be produced using renewable energy sources, and buildings will be aligned so that solar energy can be easily adopted in the future. For the first time, the energy efficiency of the different heating methods has been examined as a part of the land use planning. Porvoo has also geared its building supervision towards quality management, to help builders take energy efficiency into consideration right from the start of the building process.

The Skaftkärr project also developed new concrete and easy tools for land use planners. “The climate-conscious land use planning model allows cities and municipalities to cut emissions and energy consumption in their own area while reducing the cost of building new residential areas,” says Head of Research Kimmo Lylykangas from the Aalto University.

New ways of working

The new land use planning development report, jointly published by the City of Porvoo, Sitra, Posintra and Porvoon Energia, sets out the phases of the energy-efficient land use planning of the Toukovuori district. It describes the principles and methods that were applied, and the resulting recommendations for the general development of the land use planning process.

Recommendations include carrying out an energy-efficiency impact assessment as part of the standard appraisal of the land use plan’s effect. Local planning authorities may also source information such as instructions on building methods, the designated terms for handing over a plot, and the consultation and quality management services provided by the building supervision authorities to promote energy-efficient building.

The Skaftkärr project has reached its conclusion, but it’s full speed ahead for energy-efficiency in Porvoo. The building of the Toukovuori district has begun, and the planning of the Kevätlaakso area has been launched. Skaftkärr has also achieved international fame with recognitions such as the nomination for the Nordic Energy Municipality 2011 award.

The energy efficiency theme will be next displayed in Porvoo on 13 October with a family theme day on ecological efficiency being organised at the Porvoo Art Factory. Admission will be free of charge. The event will offer interesting information on energy-efficient traffic, ways of living and construction.


The Skaftkärr energy efficiency pilot project, funded by the City of Porvoo, Sitra and Porvoon Energia, was launched in autumn 2008. Ambitious objectives were set: to plan an energy-efficient residential area in Skaftkärr and to develop an energy-conscious land use planning process. The local electricity provider wanted to find new business models to respond to the low-energy building trend of the future. The Living Lab phase of the project aims at continuous improvement of the energy efficiency of the area even after the completion of the planning phase. The potential emission and cost benefits for the whole of Finland have been presented based on estimates by Gaia Consulting Oy.

Publication information

Asemakaavaprosessin kehittäminen energiatehokkuuden näkökulmasta (Finnish only)
Skaftkärr, Porvoo, Toukovuoren asemakaavoitus
Publishers: City of Porvoo, Sitra, Posintra, Porvoon Energia Oy
Porvoo 2012
The publication is available for downloading at and

More information

Deputy Mayor Fredrick von Schoultz, City of Porvoo
tel. +358 19 520 2221, +358 40 554 1586,

Director Jukka Noponen, Sitra
tel. +358 40 587 4323,

Managing Director Patrick Wackström, Porvoon Energia Oy
tel. +358 40 503 4611, patrick.wackströ

Leading Consultant Iivo Vehviläinen, Gaia Consulting Oy
tel. +358 50 345 3705, iivo.vehvilä

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