An ecologically efficient building maximises the benefits for the owner, while minimizing the relative environmental load. The benefits of an eco-efficient building include functionality and pleasantness, low maintenance and servicing costs, a long lifecycle and high resale value.
Construction projects use significant amounts of natural resources in short periods of time. On the other hand, the environmental impacts of construction projects are long-term, comprising the environmental load of the use of buildings, such as energy and water consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. The decisions made at the design and construction stage can have notable effects on the environmental impacts and costs of the building throughout its lifecycle.
Energy efficient buildings mitigate climate change
The central environmental impacts of buildings are related to their energy consumption and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions. Over one third of the greenhouse gas emissions in Finland are caused by the energy consumption of buildings and construction projects. The amount of greenhouse gas emissions can be cut down significantly with eco-efficient solutions, which means that buildings do matter.
The aim is to ensure buildings are energy efficient by selecting the right energy sources and materials. Providing opportunities for reducing the amount of energy used is part of energy efficient construction, although the responsibility of energy use remains with the user. Modern technology enables the construction and renovation of low energy, passive, zero energy, energy neutral and energy positive buildings.
The tools for increasing the energy efficiency of buildings include energy certificates, environmental permits and voluntary energy agreements. Regulations on energy efficiency can be found in the National Building Code of Finland.
Energy grants to enhance the energy performance of buildings can be applied for from the Housing Fund of Finland (ARA) or municipalities.
Various means of implementing resource efficiency
Resource efficiency means reducing the use of natural resources to a minimum and increasing the recyclability of materials. It also refers to the efficient use of space, which cuts down energy consumption and the amount of natural resources needed.
The adaptability of the building, also known as flexibility, is important when the use of the building changes during its lifecycle. Anticipating the new uses of a building increases material efficiency by making the scale of alterations smaller and reducing the risk of the building being left unused.