News / 8.6.2020

New circular economy solution – perpetual motion machine for property owner: heats, cools and produces heat for the district heating network carbon-neutrally

The planned residential area of Postipuisto in Helsinki is setting a new standard for energy efficiency in new-build developments. The apartment block being built on the former site of the Pasila overland transport centre will be heated and cooled carbon-neutrally. The innovative energy solutions developed by Helen and Ilmarinen make use of several different heat sources and may constitute the solution to sustainable energy use in buildings in Finland.

The building at Rullakkokatu 1 in Postipuisto produces most of the heating and cooling it requires from sources like geothermal heat, waste water heat recovery and condensates from grocery stores. Furthermore, solar panels supplied by Helen will reduce the volume of bought electricity in the property. The various heat sources complement the renewable district heating in a versatile way, and all the heat sources can be utilised together in each season in a way that is optimal and as carbon-neutral as possible.  

"For example, in the very coldest months the building makes maximal use of geothermal heat. This way, we are able to reduce fossil energy usage, as well as emissions created by heat production," says Sales Project Manager John Aalto from Helen.  

When the property's energy production is higher than required, the surplus heat is reprocessed into district heat for Helen's district heating network. This way it ends up circulating in other buildings, too.

Concrete step towards carbon-neutral buildings

The energy solution being implemented in Postipuisto is a new operating model for both companies. In addition to supplying energy to the building, Helen takes care of the relevant equipment and the entire energy system. The energy field necessary for the geothermal heat for the building belongs to Ilmarinen, the property owner.  

"Service concepts like this already exist in Europe, and it is important that the practice proved successful internationally is also brought to Finland. We believe that supporting the transition period of the energy sector is an opportunity for Ilmarinen to develop the entire sector. A residential development heated and cooled by carbon-neutral means was an excellent opportunity to grasp the change jointly with an established operator with a good understanding of the changing market," says Construction Manager Niina Nurminen from Ilmarinen.  

Helen believes that future heating systems will be based on a variety of heat sources. Therefore, the company seeks to increase the number of its decentralised energy production units in the next few years.  

"Development of two-way energy production and use is part of a larger trend aiming to genuinely reform construction in a more responsible and energy-efficient direction," Nurminen sums up.

Energy-efficient model turns building's energy use into a service package

Helen undertakes to deliver the energy solution as a service package, from design to deployment and maintenance, throughout the property's lifecycle.  

"Customers can considerably reduce their carbon footprint through a carbon-neutral energy solution that works just as reliably as customary district heating and cooling. The developer also saves on separate commissions in the design, procurement and deployment stages," Aalto reiterates the benefits of the service package.  

District heating networks function as good platforms for all methods of producing energy, and different energy sources complement the city energy system well.  

"The new energy solution is suitable for various sizes of buildings and areas that can be connected to several different heat sources available at the time. Right from the start, we have developed a system that can be reproduced and modified," Aalto adds.  

Ilmarinen's Asunto Oy Helsingin Rullakkokatu 1 is planned for completion and letting in the autumn 2021. The principal designer of Helen's new energy solution was Kari Kauppila, experienced energy sector and heat pump technology expert and Managing Director of Enersys CM Oy.