During the last few years, improving the energy efficiency of buildings has been trending in the real estate and construction sector. An increasing number of energy efficiency projects are being carried out by a large number of companies. Turku Student Village Foundation (TYS) also sees it as important to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.
The trend has gained more and more importance during the last 12 months. Inflation has affected how people plan their finances, for example. The increased cost of electricity and energy, availability of energy and considering climate policy in energy solutions have forced real estate portfolio managers to think of measures for achieving savings and climate goals. TYS aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2029.
TYS is participating and partnering in the RESPONSE project funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme. The project has been ongoing since 2020 and is to continue until 2025. The project entails measures for creating energy positive districts. The City of Turku acts as a so-called Lighthouse City in the project, and measures taken in Turku will be carried out in the Student Village. The project lends support to the Foundation’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by the anniversary year of Turku’s 800-year history.
One of the RESPONSE project measures taken in the Student Village is the Block 5 Energy Efficiency project. The four buildings on Block 5, and 108 apartments thereof, belong to the Student Village West housing stock with protected facades. Of the apartments, 72 are studios of 18.3 m2 with a shared kitchen, where one kitchen is shared by 12 apartments of the same hallway. The remaining 36 apartments are one-bedroom apartments of 46 m2. Block 5 was built in the early 1970s and underwent its last total renovation in the early 2000s. In addition to this, apartments have had light renovations as needed whenever a tenant has moved out.
One of the key themes of the RESPONSE project is to integrate modern techniques into old buildings. The Block 5 Energy Efficiency project entailed increasing the insulation layer in the buildings’ roofs, replacing the facade windows and balcony doors, repairing the external roofs, and installing solar panels on all of the buildings’ rooftops. It also entailed changing the ventilation system of the buildings into a mechanical intake and exhaust air ventilation system with heat recovery. Heat recovered from the exhaust air is used for domestic water and heating with heat pumps in two buildings. Water consumption in the buildings was reduced by adjusting the water fittings and replacing the shower heads with a so-called ECO model.
The Block 5 Energy Efficiency project was completed in six months during autumn 2022 and the beginning of 2023. Tenants were living in nearly all of the apartments during the renovation. Integrating modern techniques into an old housing stock was very successful. Impact assessment of the project on the energy efficiency of the buildings will be conducted during the monitoring phase of the RESPONSE project, which will last until the end of 2025.
Trending as it is now, energy efficiency will continue to have a high priority in any TYS projects in the near future as well. The Block 5 Energy Efficiency project forms a part of TYS’s future climate goal, and the solutions adopted for this project can also be replicated for other old buildings hosted by TYS.
Building Services Engineer