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Saving energy in property construction, maintenance and repair pays off

Sitra invited 20 business and administration decision-makers from the property and construction industries to discuss the barriers blocking energy efficiency. The expert team identified a large number of barriers and solutions for improving energy efficiency.

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Sitra invited 20 business and administration decision-makers from the property and construction industries to discuss the barriers blocking energy efficiency. The expert team identified a large number of barriers and solutions for improving energy efficiency.

The expert team was unanimous on the importance of reducing the use of energy in climate change prevention, and saw major opportunities for the renewal of the property and construction industries. As new construction is decreasing, improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings provides the construction industry with an exceptional business opportunity. In fact, the most urgent challenge for companies is to adapt their business models to suit the new situation. The old models will not enable sufficiently quick progress.

The traditional construction and maintenance process was clearly regarded as a hindrance to energy efficiency, since it does not promote seeking new solutions and implementing them. New concepts are required for the modernisation of property. Housing property, for example, should systematically deploy a long-term repair plan with which the owners would be entitled to utilise the energy repair costs as household deductions in state taxation.

Despite the fact that there is the political will for this, that alone is not enough. The leading players in the property and construction industries must clearly express their shared vision and commit to exceeding the minimum requirements. Construction requirements need a comprehensive renovation as well, and their interpretations have to be harmonised.

According to the team, the current rent policy does not motivate to save energy. Energy consumption measurement should be developed, and energy costs should be separated from rent. The construction chain is long. Changing one thing at a time does not create overall change; instead, a comprehensive energy efficiency approach throughout the entire chain is needed. Partial optimisation will result in poor cost efficiency.

The team was of the opinion that weak knowledge in energy saving options was one of the barriers. Preliminary guidance, counselling and communication can improve everyone’s knowledge regarding energy saving options. As a model example, the building supervision authorities in Oulu encourage house builders to adopt more energy efficient solutions already before they apply for construction permission. In addition to public players, the entire property and construction sector must provide consumers with uniform, independent information.

In the same manner as concerns the national health programme, the expert team demanded a national energy efficiency project for buildings, including solutions, services, incentives and productisation. A national renovation strategy should be carried out extremely quickly.

The team also regarded the current public procurement procedure as a barrier, since it does not promote energy efficient solutions. Public procurement legislation cannot hinder the selection of the best new solutions. The lead of Japan should be followed, and selections should be allocated to the best solutions available on the market.

Energy efficiency Round Table workshop participants:
Kari Varkki, Rakennusosakeyhtiö Hartela
Mika Valtonen, Ovenia Oy
Antti Tuomela, NewSec Oy
Antti Tuomainen, Skanska Infra Oy
Kaarin Taipale, Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Buildings and Construction
Olavi Suominen, Vallox Oy
Ulla Soitinaho, The Public Works Department of the City of Helsinki
Pekka Seppälä, City of Oulu
Hannu Rissanen, Fläkt Woods Oy
Olli Niemi, NCC Rakennus
Virpi Mikkonen, Tekes – Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation
Antti Lakka, Rakennustoimisto Palmberg Oy
Matti Kuronen, YIT Construction Services
Kaj Hedvall, Senate Properties
Pekka Haikonen, Paroc Oy Ab
Erkki Aalto, RAKLI – The Finnish Association of Building Owners and Construction Clients

Sitra’s Energy Programme aims at influencing the improvement of the energy efficiency of the built environment and establishing reasonable solutions to help consumers save energy. The Programme arranges Round Table meetings for professionals and decision-makers.

For further information, please contact:

Jukka Noponen, Executive Director Tel. (09) 6189 9430, firstname.lastname@sitra.fi
Seppo Junnila, Director Tel. (09) 6189 9468, firstname.lastname@sitra.fi
Kirsi Suomalainen, Communications Officer Tel. 050 369 9975, firstname.lastname@sitra.fi

Topic

Construction

Buildings account for the largest share of energy use, and therefore have the greatest potential for improving energy efficiency.

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