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Helsinki workshops on climate friendly building

  • Publisert 28.05.2011
Gathered to discuss sustainable building and the idea of a recognizable Nordic concept based on the common grounds of Nordic tradition and values, were some top people in the Finnish building community.

The workshop took place at the Hilton Kalastajatorppa hotel in Helsinki this Tuesday 24. May and this was the second of in all five such national workshops. The workshops are organized as part of the establishment of a new innovation programme on low energy and sustainable buildings by Nordic Innovation. The programme is focused on identifying and developing Nordic strengths within sustainable construction, to increase its competitiveness.  

The workshops are carried out effectively and enthusiastically by Hybrid State founders Paula and Andy Wilson. Co-hosts in Helsinki were Kirsi Martinkauppi of the Finnish Ministry of Environment, Virpi Mikkonen of Tekes and Green Building Council's Maija Virta.

The purpose of these workshops is to investigate what the construction sector in the Nordics have in common and possibly identify how collaboration can strengthen the development of green construction and Nordic sustainable building concepts.

So far there seems to be a solid agreement that there IS such a thing as a Nordic building mode, consisting of a whole range of similar values and tradition. And ultimately there is an expressed expectation that uniting the strengths of each Nordic stronghold could offer a major contribution to solving global environmental challenges.

The word seems to be that each on their own the Nordic countries are too small to realize their true green potential - but together the Nordics could, and perhaps in some cases already do, represent a substantial force in the global efforts towards green building and sustainable construction.

The discussions about values, strengths and Nordic solutions to meet the global challenges, are still under way as there are three more workshops to be held before the conclusions will be evident. But among some of the "buzz words" that have surfaced so far are functional, natural, honest and responsible.

We asked the three co-hosts about these issues and got enthusiastic and optimistic responses:


- I really like the energy at this workshop, and this is a very important issue. Together we are a bigger, more important player on the global market. We have great potential and this is a vital cause. We must fight the global climate change and knowing that 40 % of the energy consumption is connected to buildings, this is the most obvious and effective place to address. Focusing on this area is a fruitful investment - and it must be done internationally. (Kirsi Martinkauppi, Legal Councellor at the Ministry of the Environment, Finland).


- This is a very important and big opportunity to make the Nordic countries the leading region for climate friendly building. The Nordic brand is already green and the potential is huge as we have a better starting point than most. Now we only need to focus on a few issues to strengthen the brand, and further develop the brand values. (Maija Virta, Green Building Council, Finland).


- The Nordic countries share a lot of the same values, such as similar culture, similar business traditions and even similar building methods. We really should join forces, because alone we are small but together we can truly make an impact. Nordic building already has a good reputation, we should get together, like in this workshop, and find the best from each country and together we can build a world class brand. (Virpi Mikkonen, Senior technology adviser, Tekes).

Finally we asked Petteri Lautso, director of sustainability and Architecture, Ruukki Construction Oy if he thought there was a point to this discussion.


- There definitely is a point to this. The fact is that one single Nordic country is a very small market in which to develop new technology and business models. If Nordic cooperation could somehow unify these smaller markets the sector would benefit a lot. But this is not just about horizontal integration, like creating a common market, it is also about finding ways of creating vertical integration. A major challenge is to make the building industry see and appreciate it's role in a bigger picture. We need to see the construction and real estate business consider themselves part of society as a whole, and to be more concerned with how it could benefit society, and we should make this into a product that could be marketed and even exported.