Good practice

Resource efficient building design with Ecolabel criteria

Resource efficient building design with Ecolabel criteria
© guy, #118759388, 2019, source:
Medium cost
Co2 emission reduction:
17 %
Premises and operation areas:
Product and design
Size of company:
Small (less than 50)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:

Top of the class

  • A municipal housing company used requirements of the Nordic Ecolabel to support building design for decreased carbon footprint and environmental effects
  • The design incorporated several measures including better insulation, use of recycled materials and demand control automation for lighting
  • The design choices resulted in at least 17 % lower carbon footprint than a typical building and created healthy living conditions with less toxic materials

VAV group is a company wholly owned by the City of Vantaa. The company builds and owns rental apartments in the city. In 2016, it decided that upcoming rental housing blocs should be designed, when possible, according to the Nordic Ecolabel specifications.

The first such a building was a 127 apartment house called 'Kaskelantie'. The Ecolabel requirements called for very high standards of energy and material efficiency, decreased carbon footprint and recycling of materials and waste. The energy efficiency requirement for housing is 'Class A', according to the Ministry of the Environment's regulation for building energy performance.

When compared with other buildings of the same type and size, it has been estimated that the Kaskelantie’s overall carbon footprint is at least 17 % lower. This is a result of reduced use of energy, which has been achieved with better insulation and intelligent automation. For example, the Ecolabel criteria require outdoor and indoor lighting in general/communal areas, such as entrance halls, stairs, laundry rooms, storerooms to have automatic demand control. Even though the building process incorporated recycled and otherwise sustainable materials, the heavier insulation meant that the carbon footprint of the initial building phase was slightly larger than of other buildings. However, the lifecycle analyses proved that the resulting savings of heating energy acompensate for the overall carbon footprint.

The building also has solar panels, bike repairing stations and places for small-scale urban agriculture. It has been estimated that together with the lowered energy usage, these nominally small investments help to reduce residents personal annual carbon footprint by 15 %.

The Ecolabel is not only about energy efficiency, but also covers the use of harmful chemicals and materials and therefore creates better and healthier housing.

Even though the energy and material efficiency demands may increase investment costs, the VAV managed to keep the living costs comparable with their other properties. This is especially important for large public non-profit housing companies and paves the way towards affordable and sustainable living.

Key benefits

  • 17 % lower carbon footprint
  • 15 % lower annual carbon footprint for residents
  • Healthier housing by applying harmful chemical reduction criteria

"By building sustainable and healthy housing VAV wants to offer the residents means for health and wellbeing." -- Teija Ojankoski, the CEO of VAV Group

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