Winner for the international design competition on a carbon neutral block in the City of Helsinki has been selected, and the block is shifting to implementation phase. When completed, it will serve as a national and international model for sustainable construction.
The carbon neutral block in the City of Helsinki is shifting to implementation phase. When
completed, it will serve as a national and international model for sustainable construction.
Helsinki low-carbon block shifts to
Winner for the international design competition on a carbon neutral block in the City of Helsinki has been selected, and the block is shifting to implementation
phase. When completed, it will serve as a national and international model for sustainable construction.
Recognizing the need and opportunity to improve sustainable building practices, Sitra, the Finnish
Innovation Fund, in collaboration with the City of Helsinki, launched a sustainable development
design competition in March 2009.
The main goal of the competition was to attract and identify the best teams to design a large
building complex on a reclaimed harbour at the western edge of Helsinki?s central business district.
The Low2No competition was designed to seek approaches for four central objectives applied at the
scale of a city block:
*low or no carbon emissions;
*high architectural, spatial and social value;
*sustainable materials and methods.
The five international teams, selected out of 74 applicants to take part in the competition last May,
have delivered their competition proposals during the summer.
At the beginning of September, an international jury selected the proposal of team ARUP ?
Sauerbruch Hutton ? Experientia ? Galley Eco Capital called c_life ? City as living factory of
ecology the winner.
?In their proposal, the multinational team leveraged a particularly promising
consumer and behavioural framework to empower citizens in meeting the goal of
sustainability,? says Marco Steinberg, Director of Strategic Design at Sitra and
chairman of the competition jury.
?In addition, the team presented an innovative funding model for developing the
block into the first carbon neutral district in Finland.?
All teams to co-operate for systematic change
The jury was unanimous in its selection of the winner, but all proposals brought up important
viewpoints for sustainable development.
The proposals suggest, for instance, use of extensive indicators for sustainability, and the utilization
of solar power and heat, as well as wind energy. Most proposals would also connect the competition
block into the district heating grid.
The jury found particularly insightful proposals:
*material efficiency, in particular the use of wooden structures, as a carbon sink strategy;
*citizen-centric solutions ranging from real-time carbon footprint information to onsite food
*water focused solutions ranging from onsite storm-water management to minimized water
*city densification to reduce carbon footprint and stricter city-limits to reduce sprawl.
?All proposals identified opportunities not only for the block, but for the City of Helsinki and
Finland. Sitra and its partners aim to continue cooperation with all five teams in order to facilitate
this systemic change,? Steinberg says.
More than a demonstration project
Energy efficiency is one of the key tools
when the world is combating the battle
against climate change. However, in the
international scale sustainable and systemic
urban development and constructing are still
an exception rather than convention.
The project to build up a harbor area almost
in the middle of Helsinki is very innovative
in the sense that we are genuinely combining
different aspects of urban, environmental,
social, and business innovation.
?We aim to prove that national and international sustainability targets can be
reached cost-effectively through high quality architectural solutions that are
robust and reproduceable?, says Marco Steinberg.
?What is clear is that no single organization, profession or ministry can
achieve the goals of sustainable urban development by itself. It will require an
architecture of solutions including low or no carbon buildings; sustainable
economic models; enhanced mobility; sustainable planning and energy
policies; resilient social systems among countless others.?
?And for each problem, care must be taken to ensure that the solution will not
undermine progress at different scales. Our goal is not to create an island
solution or a demonstration project. Success will be a sensible solution that
can produce systemic change,? Steinberg concludes.
Realizing the plans starts
Sitra?s competition has given valuable material for future practices within the
City of Helsinki, which will be encouraging new site owners to similar low-
energy building, states Deputy Mayor Hannu Penttilä.
"We possess unique capabilities and know-how, which make our city the world
leader in co-generation and energy efficiency, for instance."
In Helsinki, district heat, district cooling and electricity are produced on a large scale in a single
process. The solutions have gained reputation from several international organizations - from
United Nations to International Energy agency.
"Based on this background, we aim to achieve the main goals - such as high energy efficiency and
low-carbon or zero emissions - as constructing the new block," Penttilä says.
?The competition also validates my impression of the importance of city planning
in improving sustainability and energy efficient," says Jukka Noponen,
Executive Director of Sitra?s Energy Programme.
?We are very pleased at the competition results and will immediately continue the
negotiations for realizing these plans,? says Noponen.
Sitra energy program
City of Helsinki
19 December 2008
Helsinki - a home for eco-efficient co-generation