Ylva reduces the emissions of valuable properties in downtown Helsinki

LeaseGreen begins controlling the conditions and energy economy of a city block in Kaivopiha with the help of AI.

Ylva is reducing the emissions of its properties in downtown Helsinki. The company responsible for managing the property of Helsinki University Student Union is to carry out energy overhauls in its properties in Kaivopiha and Domus Academica. The overhauls will reduce the energy consumption of the buildings and improve conditions for those working and living in the properties.

“We want to encourage people to make changes today – not tomorrow or the day after, but right here and now,” says Ylva’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Antti Ruuska. “The message from scientists is clear. Emissions must be reduced and quickly. We want to reduce the property business’ emissions to zero as quickly as possible.”

The Kaivopiha city block comprises the Old Student House, Citytalo, Kaivotalo and Kaivokatu 12. The energy overhaul involves the modernisation of the ventilation, building automation technology, and the heating and cooling network. It will cut Ylva’s yearly CO2 emissions by 230 tonnes, which is equivalent to 10 per cent of the properties’ total emissions.

The investments will be carried out as a turnkey project by energy efficiency company, LeaseGreen. After completion of the project, the big data from the properties’ building services technology will be connected to the LeaseGreen remote monitoring service, which will take control of the energy economy and operations of the renovated properties.

“We are building a new brain for the building services technology in Ylva’s properties that will be able to control the energy consumption in a smart and flexible way,” says LeaseGreen’s CEO, Thomas Luther.

“We can predict conditions, take advantage of AI and provide updates over the web. We like to say that the algorithms developed by LeaseGreen are the Tesla of the property sector. The progress made in our service development increases the intelligence of previously renovated properties immediately and automatically.”

Zero carbon footprint by 2025

The energy overhaul will not only cut Ylva’s emissions and reduce its repair debt, it is also a financially worthwhile investment. According to LeaseGreen’s calculations the life-cycle savings of the investment rise to as much as 3.6 million euros, with a return on investment of 10–12 per cent.

“If we can find ways to become low-carbon that are also financially worthwhile, then it becomes easier to scale up to the rest of society,” says Ylva’s Antti Ruuska.

“For us, sustainability means proactive property ownership: beneficial technical upgrades and repairs are done preferably sooner rather than later. We care for valuable buildings and we are thinking in terms of decades ahead rather than just a few years. We have a responsibility to future generations.”

Ylva has committed to reduce the carbon footprint of its properties to zero by 2025. According to Ruuska, sustainability means that all solutions that reduce emissions will be widely taken into use.

There is no magic trick that will reduce our emissions to zero. We need a large amount of different procedures and specific work in order to get emissions down to zero. This is an important start to our journey towards becoming low-carbon, but there are many other things on our road map too.”

Harder to reduce emissions downtown than out by Ring Road III

Ylva and LeaseGreen also investigated the use of geothermal heating in reducing emissions in downtown city blocks. According to Antti Ruuska, the drilling of energy wells in the centre of Helsinki is not necessarily possible.

“Emissions are harder to reduce downtown than further out in the suburbs because drilling geothermal wells is, in many places, almost impossible. We want to show that despite this it is possible to become emission free even in a historic property in the middle of Helsinki.”

“Emission-free district heating is definitely a key factor across the entire city as Helsinki and properties therein reduce their burden on the environment. We are not going to wait for the world around us to get cleaner. We are making the change ourselves and also encouraging the entire sector to increase the rate of change.”

More information

Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) Antti Ruuska
+358 40 754 5456

CEO Thomas Luther
+358 40 534 4256

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