1 Heat pumps

Heat pumps gather the energy from the air, the ground or water that originated as heat radiation in the sun or the earth’s core. Heat pumps produce heat energy with the help of electricity, heat exchangers, compressors and coolants. Depending on the technology, they can produce 2–4 times the amount of energy as they require from the electricity they use.

In terms of purchase price, a geothermal pump is usually the most expensive type of heat pump, although its heat coefficient remains high even in very low temperatures. Exhaust-air and air-water heat pumps can be beneficial when the investment cost of a geothermal heating are too high or the location of the property is not suitable for drilling the necessary energy wells.

 

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2 Automation

Automation is the brains of the technology system in the property. With the help of smart automation we can achieve the optimal balance between the desired conditions and energy use. Correctly programmed and controlled automation maintains good conditions at 10–15 percent lower costs than the average system, taking into consideration any change in the weather and use of the property.

The average standard of automation in Finnish properties is mediocre. The automation systems in use are old or there is no automation at all. In this case, the building is controlled with a primitive unit regulator. The opportunities for analysing data, automating commands or remote control are lacking.

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3 Ventilation

In thousands of large Finnish properties, the original ventilation machines and fans are still being used and are being controlled by primitive systems. An exhaust-air heat recovery unit is missing from many buildings.

As part of the modernisation project in an energy overhaul, the complete air distribution network of the property is assessed: the requirements of different spaces and the amount of air needed. Next, the inefficient machines are replaced with new equipment and a heat recovery system is built and the ventilation control is refined with the help of sensors. These sensors monitor the temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels in the spaces.

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The energy wells for heat pumps have to be measured correctly – preferably too big than too small. If the measurements are too small, the wells cool down too much and the efficiency of the heat pump weakens over the years.

Simo Nurmi, VP, Engineering and Power Generation

4 Solar energy

The capacity of solar energy is rising quickly in all Nordic countries. The production costs of solar panels have come down so dramatically in recent years that they have become a worthwhile investment, even in Nordic conditions.

Solar power reduces the energy costs for the property owner and cuts the use of electricity. The panels also reduce the amount of solar radiation hitting the roof and therefore, cooling requirements are reduced. Previously, only the unproductive surface area of the roof used for protecting the building was fit for use. Solar energy can also be used as an outwardly visible symbol of the sustainability of the property owner.

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5 Cooling

In the past, cooling machines in large properties worked independently. They cooled the air by using coolants to cool down water which was diverted into the property’s cooling network. At worst, the same property would be heated and cooled at the same time.

Nowadays, more and more systems are being designed and built that both cool and heat. For example, the heat from a water cooler used to cool a server room can be recovered and used to heat a different part of the building when required. Another option is an efficient air-water heat pump that heats in winter and cools in summer.

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6 LED lighting

Modern LED lighting produces the same amount of light as old light sources but by using 90 per cent less energy. The lifespan of LEDs is considerably longer than traditional solutions and so repair and maintenance costs decrease.

The energy efficiency of LEDs should mainly be used for improving the lighting conditions of the property. LEDs are easy to direct and their firing time is usually under a microsecond. Users of properties with new and efficient lighting are usually surprised by the impact the improved lighting has on the comfort of the working environment. Good lighting also improves occupational safety.

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The lifespan of new ventilation machines can be expected to be 20–25 years. The most challenging thing in a project is understanding the complex system: how can we control the entire airflow in the property and how can we get ventilation to act as part of the overall building’s services technology.

Essi Boije af Gennäs, VP, Engineering and Energy Efficiency

A seventh opportunity?

THE SOLUTIONS OF THE FUTURE. The most interesting of these are to do with storing energy and hydrogen. The energy needed to heat and cool can already be stored in the concrete structures of the property when the property is controlled with a smart automation system and by using information on the conditions with the help of big data.

In the near future, storing electricity will become cost effective as battery technology develops and the price of the storage capacity for use in properties comes down. The property will charge the battery with electricity when it is cheaply available, such as in windy conditions.

There are also great expectations around hydrogen as a source of energy for both transport and property. There is already one housing cooperative in Sweden that has exchanged district heating for a combination of hydrogen-burning fuel cells and solar energy panels. Hydrogen is made on sunny days with electrolysis and solar energy and then stored in a pressurised tank for later use in fuel cells that produce electricity for heating and water. 100% self-sufficient, zero emissions.

LeaseGreen is following the development of technology and will bring new innovations to customers as soon as they have been shown to be sufficiently technically functional and commercially profitable.


Feel free to ask about energy technology – we’re happy to help!

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