Buildings are energy hogs. Buildings account for about 40 per cent of all energy consumption and a similar proportion of carbon emissions in the EU. Finland is taking the issue seriously. In addition to breaking ground on carbon-neutral construction, Finns are developing diverse solutions for smarter and more efficient buildings that consume less heating, cooling and electrical energy.
Below are five tech companies that are leading by example.
Helsinki-based Fourdeg was founded in 2012 out of a desire to create a profitable business with a positive ecological impact. The company has become known for its award-winning automated heating system that saves energy in buildings with water radiators, including commercial, public and residential premises.
Helping to improve indoor climate and manage heating expenses, the solution is implemented by replacing conventional thermostats with their wi-fi counterparts connected to the cloud service. The remote-controlled technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) to predict and regulate the heating of a building, room by room.
“With Fourdeg, people can tune their own indoor climate as they wish, within certain safety limits,” said CEO and co-founder Markku Makkonen. “They control it via the phone or pad app, adjust every room and can make a schedule.”
With offices in Finland and Sweden, Nuuka is a software company that provides real estate industry players with intelligent tools for monitoring, analysing and optimising indoor conditions and energy consumption in buildings.
Nuuka’s AI-driven solutions have appealed to major real estate companies in Finland and abroad and sparked interest among investors. The company is also assisting the City of Helsinki on its way to becoming carbon neutral and the world’ most functional and sustainable city. Currently, over 1 700 buildings in the Finnish capital are connected to Nuuka’s energy and smart building management system.
“By providing one unified platform with all the building data, Nuuka can add value for all types of real estate owners and for different service providers, as well as for the tenants using the building,” highlighted Nuuka’s Susanne Hedblom. “When you have all the data in one place, you can really optimise, improve and innovate in this space and significantly increase property values.”
Founded in 2013, the energy service company is committed to helping clients in the property sector to improve their profitability and environmental sustainability by enhancing energy efficiency. The modernisation of energy systems in existing properties is always a complex matter that requires extensive professional knowhow and hard work, but the consequent energy and money savings are worth the effort.
“Improving energy efficiency in existing properties is more difficult than in new constructions as there are more constraints and restrictions,” the company told us in 2018. “That is why we personalise comprehensive solutions for every case.”
LeaseGreen’s approach is well in line with the intentions of many large corporations to operate more responsibly and cut their CO2 emissions. One of them is Elisa, the first carbon-neutral telecom operator in the Nordics. Executed a couple of years ago by LeaseGreen, the energy overhaul of Elisa’s head office in Helsinki saves roughly 250 tonnes of CO2 per year, which could compensate for the emissions of over 2 000 return flights to Stockholm.
The idea for OptiWatti was born out of the need to solve a real-life problem faced by Juha Marjeta: he desperately needed to get the heating of his home, which resulted in big electricity bills, under control. The challenge has eventually led to the development of a smart management system for electric heating that helps homeowners to reduce wasted energy and emissions while increasing comfort.
Managed via a smartphone or a tablet, OptiWatti monitors room temperature around the clock and allows room-specific heating optimisation. The system takes into account a variety of factors, including users’ preferences, previously observed heating and cooling behaviour in each room, local weather forecasts and electricity price fluctuations.
“Even a little extra warmth can have a big impact on your electricity bill,” explained Marjeta, who currently acts as the company’s CTO. “Typically, our customers are astounded when they realise how much they can save.”
Leanheat relies on the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI to ensure optimised energy consumption in centrally heated apartment buildings without any compromise on living conditions. Leanheat’s smart management system has already found its way to about 150 000 apartments in Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Germany and even as far as in China.
With Leanheat, real-time optimisation is possible not only for individual buildings, but entire clusters of apartment buildings where all flats are equipped with sensors to monitor changes in temperature and humidity.
“All the data is gathered in the cloud and our software calculates millions of different paths for heating control and sends instructions back to the central heating,” told Leanheat’s Jukka Aho. “Residents don’t have to do anything, but they should notice more stable living conditions while building owners receive smaller heating bills and district heating companies will see a cut in peak power demand.”