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Aalto and Fortum to build emission-free premises

An architectural illustration of one of the buildings after renovation.

Helin & Co Architects / Aalto University

Fortum and Aalto University have joined forces to turn a 10-building block owned by the university emissions-free and virtually self-sufficient with an energy solution that is unprecedented on the world stage.

The Finnish state-owned company’s local energy-based solution will produce heating and cooling with industrial-scale centralised air-to-water heat pumps and distribute the energy to the buildings through low-temperature networks. The heat generated during cooling will be utilised to improve energy efficiency by recycling it for use in the area.

The solution is expected to satisfy 70–90 per cent of the heating demands of the block, with the remaining 10–30 per cent to be fulfilled by renewable district heating.

Ville Jokela, the managing director of Aalto University Campus & Real Estate, described the use of excess heat as a natural extension of the sustainability-oriented energy approach of Aalto University.

“The campus buildings also play a key role in offering the university’s research teams cutting-edge research opportunities,” he pointed out.

Fortum is set to build the solution in conjunction with the renovation of the building block located on the campus of Aalto University in Otaniemi, Espoo. The solution is presently scheduled for deployment in early 2021, with an expansion to nearby buildings also under consideration.

The energy company is responsible for the full life cycle of the system, from project development and construction to operation.

“[The project] combines the best aspects of district energy and local production in a new way,” said Thomas Ekholm, the head of new solutions, heating and cooling at Fortum. “We are intensively developing hybrid solutions that utilise various heat pumps.”

By: Aleksi Teivainen