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09/01/2024

Reading time: 4min

RM

Riku Maidell

Sustainable construction will be enshrined in law 2025 – more multidisciplinary expertise is needed

green transition energy transition

The revised Building Act sets requirements for sustainable construction. Riku Maidell, Business Director of Sustainability Services at Sweco: ”In the future, the importance of circular economy and efficient planning will be further emphasized.”

Sustainable construction?

At the core is the goal of carbon neutrality and climate change mitigation

In practice, the aim is material- and energy-efficient and socially sustainable construction.

  1. Longevity is essential, whether it concerns buildings, traffic and infrastructure solutions or industrial plants.
  2. Circular economy plays an important role: the EU aims to increase the circular economy rate of the construction sector to 70%.

Sustainable constrution in practice

Sustainable construction requires diverse expertise

  1. Resource efficiency ”The circular economy, material and energy efficiency are essential parts. Sweco uses digital calculation and modelling tools developed by Sweco itself to calculate carbon footprint and life cycle costs, among other things, from the project planning stage.”
  2. Social sustainability ”Different groups of people and, for example, design that takes safety into account is a natural part of sustainable construction.”
  3. Biodiversity ”Our project planning always includes diverse environmental analyses. Sweco has powerful tools for this, too.”

New obligations.

In the future, the law will require more detailed planning

  1. Serviceability, repairability and flexibility must be ensured already at the design stage.
  2. Dismantling and reuse of parts shall be taken into account.
  3. Different life cycle characteristics must be included in the project’s objectives and a report must be made on them in connection with the building permit.

”Competent design, knowledge of the circular economy and choosing the right design partner will be critical factors behind a successful and sustainably implemented construction project.”

Sustainable construction and circular economy require understanding the big picture

Utilizing waste heat is circular energy at its best

When talking about the circular economy, the focus is most often on the circulation of materials. However, the principles of the circular economy can also be applied to energy.

Riku Maidell, Business Director of Sustainability Services at Sweco: ”Energy is also seen as a recyclable resource. In the era of low-cost energy, waste heat, for example, was released to the winds, and the location of industry was guided by other factors, such as the price of construction and the proximity of commodities. Now investment decisions also take into account the energy recycling potential in order to utilize waste heat and improve overall cost-efficiency.”

Examples – utilizing waste heat

Waste heat can also be utilized in district heating networks.

  1. In Pietarsaari, waste heat recovery from wastewater generated in the mill area is about to begin. ”In the future, 5,000 single-family houses will be emission-free in terms of district heating.”
  2. Waste heat produced by data centers is utilized in district heating networks in the areas

Zoning plays a big role

The utilization of waste heat also requires a new kind of approach from city planners.

”It will be easier to recycle energy in an area designed to be as diverse as possible in terms of its use profile, while promoting the carbon neutrality goals of the entire region.”

  1. For example, Sweco’s tools can be used to model what types of buildings, from apartments to commercial and industrial buildings, should be located in a certain area from the perspective of energy recycling.
  2. Locating data centers close to residential areas offers great opportunities.

The right direction

Achieving the climate goals of municipalities and cities requires large-scale actions.

”Entire districts and cities must be harnessed as part of the energy transition. The sky and imagination are the limit, as long as energy use and production meet or, alternatively, storage solutions can be utilized. The key to success is careful planning.”

 Riku Maidell – The writer is Sweco’s Business Director for Sustainability Services

 

 

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