Finlandia Hall equipped with solar panels as the city strives to boost energy efficiency
The maintenance area of Finlandia Hall received a truckload of solar panels as the day was breaking on 20 December 2016. The last days of the year saw 180 solar panels installed on the roof of the building. With the panels, electricity purchases for the hall can be cut by 25 percent during some hours of summer days.
The panels are expected to produce 2–3 percent of Finlandia Hall’s annual electricity consumption. This corresponds to the annual electricity use of 7–8 single-family houses with district heating.
The ongoing project is in line with the City of Helsinki principles of energy-efficient and zero-energy building construction. Helsinki has committed to cutting energy consumption by 9 percent in as many years (2008–2016). The goal is to significantly reduce the consumption of purchased energy (heating, cooling and electricity) in buildings. City of Helsinki construction projects strive to improve energy efficiency throughout the building stock.
More than 1,200 sites included in a solar panel study
Investigations related to renewable energy in the city’s construction projects focus on solar and wind energy as well as on heat pumps and geothermal cooling.
The most typical renewable energy form in the projects is solar power. Ongoing new construction and renovation projects take into consideration the goals and alternatives offered by the energy investigations.
According to Sirpa Eskelinen, the leading energy expert at the City of Helsinki Public Works Department, solar power can reduce the electricity consumption of a property by 2–20 percent per year.
“The Public Works Department has so far studied the potential for solar power at more than 1,200 city properties,” she says. “Detailed studies on the potential for solar power production have been conducted for 600 properties.”
Older properties present challenges
According to Eskelinen, the utilization of solar power presents challenges especially in renovation projects. The structures of older buildings may not support solar panels, so it is not advisable to make plans for solar power production in them. The total costs of a solar power plant are also affected by the costs of the plans and the implementation of required alterations.
The roof of Finlandia Hall was found to support the weight of solar panels. However, the total investment cost was increased by challenging indoor cable installations.
Other city solar energy projects in addition to Finlandia Hall include the Torpparinmäki and Hiidenkivi Comprehensive Schools. Several ongoing new construction projects also seek to utilize solar power including the Yliskylä day care centre.
Certified environmental management
Finlandia Hall will be one of the first European event venues utilizing solar power. Finlandia Hall’s long-ranging environmental work culminated last autumn in the ISO 14000 environmental management certification. So far less than 1 percent of Finnish businesses have been certified according to this ISO standard.
Text: Marita Penttilä, City of Helsinki Public Works Department