Housing companies join forces for energy renovations

News 2020-04-15 at 10:27
Life at the Myllypuro housing district in Helsinki, Finland. © Patrik Lindström/The City of Helsinki

The Myllypuro district in Helsinki is home to an experiment to determine whether energy renovations and extension projects can be sped up by closer cooperation between housing companies. The Housing Company Club event organised at the Myllypuro facilities for local residents was attended by a total of 22 representatives of 18 housing companies. This accounted for the majority of private housing companies in the area.

The goal of the club activities, developed by Kimmo Karvinen of Good House Oy, a company providing development services for housing companies, is to get housing companies to join forces and to jointly promote the development of individual housing companies and the area as a whole.

“A year ago, in my own housing company in the Lauttasaari district in Helsinki, we board members discussed big questions, such as the installation of geothermal heat and adding a floor to the building. It occurred to me then that there must be other housing companies that are pondering similar questions. I posted a contact request to the boards of neighbouring buildings in the Facebook group for our district and was surprised by all the positive feedback I received. The first meeting was attended by the chairpersons of 20 boards, and it marked the beginning of our housing company club activities. The club (“Katajaharjun Taloyhtiöklubi”) now includes 25 of the 30 housing companies in the area,” Karvinen says.

Aiming at a model suitable for the entire city

The City of Helsinki found Karvinen’s concept interesting and wished to test whether it could be copied elsewhere. “We are interested in a model for local cooperation among housing companies, which could be expanded across the entire urban area. As part of the Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035 action plan, the city is preparing an energy renaissance programme to improve the energy efficiency of existing, privately owned residential building stock. The club concept seems naturally suited to the programme,” says Jari Viinanen, Environmental Inspector.

The goal of the housing company club activities is to make full use of housing companies’ potential for development. “A key objective in the long run is to increase shareholder value by making the housing company more attractive in the housing market. Better energy efficiency is the single most important theme of development. Savings in energy lead to lower maintenance costs and better comfort of living. Best of all, the investments pay for themselves in the form of savings resulting from lower energy consumption,” Karvinen points out.

The housing company club aims to increase housing companies’ expertise by providing them with all the necessary information and competence from both the public and private sectors. The activities run on a voluntary basis, and housing companies retain their independence and decision-making power.

Collaboration offers savings and increases safety

Eija Paananen, a Myllypuro resident since 2004, is interested in the housing company club concept. She chairs the board of Säästönuori, a housing company in Myllypuro. The real estate encompasses 112 apartments and a large plot. According to Paananen, discussions currently focus on geothermal heat and heat recovery, various minor energy-efficiency measures as well as complementary building and extensions.

“I think it would make a lot of sense to plan these jointly with other housing companies in the neighbourhood. If we want to increase the energy efficiency of real estate and maintain a green and lush environment, collaboration is the best way forward,” she says.

Paananen believes that housing company club activities could also carry other positive impacts. “If people know one another, it improves safety and the sense of togetherness among residents. Development has been very positive in this respect during my time in Myllypuro,” she says.

The main concerns brought up at the housing company club meeting involved future increases in rent as well as past and future traffic solutions in the area. Complementary building is also a source of disagreement: many in the area want to preserve the big courtyards. What role does the housing company club play if housing companies and the city disagree on an issue? “The club is always on the housing company’s side,” Karvinen says.

Energy renaissance programme in Helsinki

The City of Helsinki is preparing an energy renaissance programme that aims to speed up energy-related repairs in privately owned buildings.

The goal is to reduce the amount of heating energy consumed by the entire building stock of Helsinki by tens of percentage points by 2035.

According to plans, guidance will be provided for implementing energy renovations and for increasing the amount of renewable energy, increased emphasis will be placed on carbon neutrality when planning city districts and customers of building control services will be steered towards energy-efficient solutions and renewable energy.

More information

  • Environmental Inspector Jari Viinanen, the City of Helsinki, firstname.lastname@hel.fi

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