News / 6.9.2016

Responsibility increasingly important in construction

Building construction professionals believe that responsible construction is evident in areas like choice of building materials, the carbon footprints of buildings, and the energy efficiency of construction. The objective of responsible construction is to build healthy and safe homes. The conclusions come from a study commissioned by Helen Ltd and carried out by IROResearch Oy.

The respondents’ view is that the importance of responsibility will rise in the future. A significant role is played by consumers who are increasingly particular regarding their choices as well as possessing a growing awareness of the environmental impacts of their choices. The requirement level  rises with the growth of awareness.

An important area of increased interest in responsible construction is the cooling of dwellings. It has been boosted by warmer summers and extreme climatic phenomena, which have raised the interior temperatures in homes.

Cooling systems keep interior temperatures moderate also during heat waves, giving the perception of positive effects on health and wellbeing, as well as significantly improving living comfort.

The respondents consider a cooling facility to provide a clear selling point, particularly in more high-end dwellings and predict its role to become increasingly prominent in buying decisions. Among residents, the over-50s were particularly interested in cooling. It was also considered to increase the value of property.

In the context of cooling, construction sector professionals draw parallels to motor vehicle development: air conditioning used to be an optional extra in cars, but is now taken for granted.  Cooling solutions in housing are expected to follow the same path.

Up to now, the cooling requirements of homes have been solved by using e.g. shading elements, roof structures, cladding materials and window size. Interesting examples of separate cooling solutions include air conditioning systems, air source heat pumps, individual air conditioning equipment for apartments, cooling panels, convectors, and district cooling. The main factors affecting the choice of cooling solutions are the installation and running costs along with the size, appearance and usability of the equipment.

The pros of district cooling listed by the building sector professionals who responded to the study included the reliability, facility and ease of operation, issues affecting the cityscape, and ecological considerations. The perceived cons are the initial investments that are higher than those of other solutions. The respondents’ view was that district cooling is definitely worth considering in conjunction with replumbing works. The future of district cooling is seen as similar to that of district heating: when the availability improves, it is expected to become the first-choice cooling solution.

The objects of the study commissioned by Helen Ltd were the attributes linked to responsible building construction, along with the importance of energy efficiency and district cooling in responsible building. The study was conducted through individual interviews of building sector professionals representing new builds, refurbishment, architectural design and property management. The research was carried out by IROResearch Oy in summer 2016.