Eco-efficiency and energy consumption in buildings
Promotion of ecological sustainability
Photo: Harri Hakaste
The Finnish Land Use and Building Act (2000) has proved an important instrument in the promotion of ecological sustainability, and so has the normative guidance for better energy efficiency.
Moreover, Finland has implemented a programme for ecological sustainability in building and worked out gauges for use in describing the environmental characteristics of buildings.
This line of activity has rested on close co-operation between the authorities and the building and property sectors.
Legislation provides the basis
The basis for promoting ecological sustainability in building and on properties is the Land Use and Building Act of the year 2000.
The objective of this Act is "to ensure that the use of land and water areas and building activities on them create preconditions for a favourable living environment and promote ecologically, economically, socially and culturally sustainable development".
The Act also provides the basis for the more detailed regulations on building laid down in the National Building Code of Finland.
Energy consumption in buildings to be curbed by normative guidance
In Finland, the main environmental impact caused by the building stock depends on energy use and the ensuing emissions. In 2003, quite strict regulations were issued for the energy performance of new buildings, in order to improve energy efficiency in buildings.
The European Union's Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings was implemented in Finland through the Act on Energy Certification of Buildings and Ministry of the Environment Decree on Energy Certification of Buildings. The Act and Decree came into force on 1 January 2008. The national building regulations on energy efficiency were also made more precise with the implementation.
A programme for broad development work
In 1998, the Government issued a resolution on a Programme for ecologically sustainable building, which aims at establishing environmental considerations as an integral part of decision-making processes in building. The programme is based on voluntary participation and was drafted jointly with the building and property sector.
An evaluation in 2001-2002 revealed that the building sector has a considerable environmental awareness at the theoretical level. Progressive sectors include the assessment of ecological factors, indoor climate, water economy and the management of building waste.
On the other hand, it was found that in practical building activities, these principles were not so thoroughly implemented. We might say that the development of ecological sustainability in building in Finland has a good basis but that full implementation will take time.
Gauges for environmental characteristics
As of the 1990s, much work has gone into finding gauges for measuring the environmental characteristics of buildings. A forerunner project is the PIMWAG method, worked out for the Viikki eco-area in Helsinki and providing criteria for assessing ecological impact in five fields.
In addition to accurate calculation methods, there are also simpler gauges which are easier to use. The main tool is the Promise environmental classification of buildings, which is applied in the assessment of the environmental characteristics of new-building projects and existing properties.
Mr. Harri Hakaste, Senior Architect, Ministry of the Environment
Tel. + 358 50 413 7673