Niiralan Kulma emphasises green and societal values in ten new projects

Niiralan Kulma, the largest rental company in Kuopio, invests significantly in sustainable and environmentally friendly living.

Niiralan Kulma’s recent investments adapt to the changing needs of Kuopio. New residents move to the city for work, and they need comfortable homes. Simultaneously Kuopio is preparing for population ageing by building service housing.

“Ten years ago, we talked about affordable, quality housing. Now our strategy has expanded to include responsibility, which must cover environmental and social values,” says Kari Keränen, CEO of Niiralan Kulma.

Seven new apartment buildings are currently financed with MuniFin’s green finance, and three service housing projects have been completed with MuniFin’s social finance.

“When we evaluated long-term interest rates, MuniFin offered the most affordable solution. The margin and the interest rate were lowered because these new projects are green and social.”

Cozy and environmentally friendly homes

Niiralan Kulma is building homes in seven different locations across the city of Kuopio.

“We are planning and building cozy homes that effectively utilise energy-saving technology and renewable energy. Building technology takes into account the by-products of energy. We use geothermal heat, recover heat from wastewater, capture excess energy from mechanical ventilation, and utilise solar energy. It was very important to design the houses to be maintenance-free and long-lasting,” Keränen says.

Many methods are in use to improve environmental friendliness. The new apartments do not have unusable space that requires heating, and there are multiple waste bins in the apartments for recycling.

“In addition to the living spaces, we have invested in bicycle parking and charging points for electric cars. The smallest details are important, for example, with electronic notice boards, no papers have to be printed to inform the residents.”

Service housing for seniors and young adults

Männistön Aimu, which offers rehabilitative service housing for young adults, was completed in early 2020. Next completed in 2022, Liito-orava care home, provides service housing apartments and rental apartments for seniors. Most recently, Levänen service center was opened for residents in October 2023.

“Both the service center and the care home offer 60 places for residents, which are rented by the wellbeing services county of North Savo. They also organise the care needed by seniors.”

Residents were involved in the planning of the service centers, and they as well as the care staff have been satisfied with the end results. Männistön Aimu’s small apartment building is inviting from the outside: unpainted wooden surfaces of the house are environmentally friendly and stand out from the street view.

The costs of these projects were the following: Männistön Aimu is EUR 2.1 million, Liito-orava is EUR 10.2 million and the Levänen service center is EUR 8.7 million.

“We want to thank the staff of MuniFin. We received a lot of help and clear instructions when we needed them. The financing arrangement has been smooth.”

Affordable social housing

The Finnish affordable social housing sector plays a significant role in the development of a sustainable welfare state. In Finland, affordable social housing is mainly provided by municipality-owned companies and nationwide non-profit organisations. MuniFin is the main financier of affordable social housing production in Finland. An increasing amount of housing in Finland is being constructed and financed with consideration for social and environmental factors.

Text: Sara Pitzén
Photo: Niiralan Kulma

Children and youth of Kokkola innovate environmental actions in a competition sponsored by the Green Pioneer of the Year prize money

The City of Kokkola won our Green Pioneer of the Year competition last year. The prize money was used to organize a competition in which local children and youth could propose ideas for sustainable development initiatives.

Last fall, MuniFin awarded Kokkola the Green Pioneer of the Year title. The competition prize was EUR 10,000, which the winner could use for a sustainability project of their choice.

With the prize money, Kokkola organized a competition where preschool and school children could innovate projects related to climate and the environment.

“Environmental issues are crucial for the happiness of the younger generation. That’s why we in Kokkola believe in our children and young people and wanted to involve them in brainstorming for a green future,” explained Veli-Matti Isoaho, Head of Construction for the City of Kokkola, on the decision to organize the competition.

A total of 44 teams participated in the competition in four different age categories. Each team could submit one project for the competition. Ideas were collected during February and March 2024.

Ambitious and creative projects impressed the jury

The winners of the competition were announced at an award ceremony in early May organized by the City of Kokkola. The following groups were selected for their innovative ideas:

Early Childhood Education

Winner: Ulkometsä Daycare

Project: Integrating Recycling into Daily Daycare Activities

Preschool – 2nd Grade

Winner: Lohtaja Kirkonkylä School, 2nd Grade

Project: Nature-Friendly Schoolyard

3rd – 6th Grade

Winner: Kälviä Marttila School, 6th Grade

Project: Marttila School’s Backyard Garden

Junior High

Winner: Hakalahti School, 9A

Project: Biodiversity Protection Campaign

Each category winner will receive an EUR 2,500 cash prize, which the class or group can use as they wish.

Green Pioneer of the Year Won with the Piispanmäki Project

Last year, Kokkola won the competition with the Piispanmäki multi-functional building project. The city’s commitment to green financing requirements impressed the competition’s evaluation panel.

“Kokkola has admirably taken ownership of sustainable construction, which was evident in the Piispanmäki project. The initiative was managed internally, with the entire organization committed to it. It was a pleasure to see how Kokkola’s children and young people were involved in environmental discussions,” said Daniel Eriksson, MuniFin’s Customer Relationship Manager.

MuniFin first named a Green Pioneer of the Year among its clients in 2019, recognizing those who have ambitiously advanced climate and environmental goals.

Read more:

The city of Kokkola is the Green Pioneer of the year 2023

Greener energy production changes impact reporting – Nordic green bonds impact reporting recommendations updated

MuniFin is part of a Nordic public sector issuer group that has released a new edition of the Position Paper on Green Bonds Impact Reporting. The updates to these reporting recommendations stem from recent market developments, especially from emission reductions in energy production.

Published by Nordic public sector issuers, the Position Paper on Green Bonds Impact Reporting is a practical guide to reporting the environmental impact of projects financed through green bonds. It includes impact indicators, calculation methods and reporting practices.

“The material changes in the 2024 update include revised emission factors for electricity and district heating, new recommendations for vintage reporting and more specific recommendations on topics such as look-back/allocation periods, refinancing, ESG strategy and risk management”, says MuniFin’s Sustainability Manager Mikko Noronen.

In the latest edition of the position paper, the issuer group revised the emission factors for electricity and district heating downwards to reflect the energy sector’s rapid transition towards fossil-free energy sources.

Nordic recommendations harmonise the green bonds market

The purpose of the Nordic reporting recommendations is to create harmonious and transparent green bonds impact reporting principles that cultivate market practices. This allows issuers to report on the environmental impact of their financed projects in a way that offers investors high-quality information that is comparable, transparent and also supports the investors’ own reporting.

“For sustainable bonds to retain and strengthen their credibility as useful tools to finance the transition, it is of importance that market participants undertake issuance and reporting in a diligent and transparent manner”, says Björn Bergstrand, Head of Sustainability at Sweden’s Kommuninvest and coordinator of the Nordic cooperation.

Developed to assist Nordic public sector borrowers in reporting the environmental impact from their investments, the Position Paper on Green Bonds Impact Reporting has come to be used by issuers also in the private sector.

The Position Paper on Green Bonds Impact Reporting was first introduced in 2017 and is now in its fourth edition.

The Nordic public sector issuer group publishing the Position Paper on Green Bonds Impact Reporting includes MuniFin and MuniFin’s Nordic public sector counterparts, Kommunalbanken in Norway, KommuneKredit in Denmark and Kommuninvest in Sweden, as well as the Swedish Export Credit Corporation (SEK) and a number of Swedish municipal and regional issuers.

Position Paper on Green Bonds Impact Reporting_(2024)

MuniFin Green Impact Report 2023

Press release: Nordic issuers update green bonds reporting guidance

Further information

Mikko Noronen, Sustainability Manager
Tel. +358 50 4797 533

The Finlandia Prize Awarded Martta Wendelin Daycare Centre is a demonstration of environmental consciousness and child-focused philosophy

Originating from the vision of children, the Tuusula-based Martta Wendelin Daycare Centre embodies respect for children and sustainable development.

Since the summer of 2022, this exceptional building has added life to the scenery of the municipality of Tuusula in Southern Finland. The Martta Wendelin Daycare Centre, designed with children’s needs in mind, won the prestigious Finlandia Prize for Architecture for its distinctive architecture and execution.

User-oriented approach and ecological values steered the project

As part of the service network design in 2018, Tuusula resolved to replace several old daycare centres with new buildings. Stemming from a vision of preschoolers, the Martta Wendelin Daycare Centre was established, resulting in a new daycare centre in Tuusula with 10 groups, providing about 200 daycare places for children.

“The idea for the daycare centre was born when we started sketching a vision of the dream playground together with preschool-aged children. Later, the Martta Wendelin Society joined the project. This was natural, as the artist Martta Wendelin, known for her depictions of Finnish rural and home life, spent most of her life right here in Tuusula,” recalls Tiina Simons, Director of Education in Tuusula, about the early stages of the project.

Martta Wendelin’s art is also a prominent part of the daycare’s interior decoration.

“The entire project has been carried out using user-centred design. The history of Tuusula has been brought into the building in a skillful and beautiful manner,” says Pirjo Sirén, Director of Municipal Development.

Significant efforts have been made in the implementation of the Martta Wendelin Daycare to utilise environmentally friendly solutions and climate-smart construction. This can be seen, for example, in the energy efficiency and in the way the principles of the circular economy have been taken into account both during the construction phase and in the planning of the building’s life cycle.

Thanks to its environmental friendliness, the project has been financed with green finance from MuniFin.

“Although the high-quality implementation of the daycare required a significant investment, we expect to achieve savings on the operating budget side. Combining four early education units into one makes the organization of operations more cost-effective and the maintenance of the property easier,” says Markku Vehmas, the acting Chief of Staff of the municipality.

Children and nature come first

The Martta Wendelin Daycare Centre embodies respect for the environment and sustainable development. The building has been constructed with materials that prioritise environmental friendliness and health.

“The structures of the exterior and interior walls as well as the intermediate floors have used CLT massive construction that acts as a carbon sink. The design of the spaces has focused on diversity and flexibility so that they can serve different purposes. The yard designed for play and exercise beautifully opens to the south. Part of the forest has also been left on the yard area to be preserved, as well as a stormwater puddle where children can jump to their heart’s content in rainy weather,” Sirén describes.

“The building has also not been filled with colors or artworks. The wooden surfaces create frames into which the children can bring colors,” Simons continues.

The exceptional nature of the building has brought various recognitions to the municipality. In addition to the Finlandia Prize for Architecture, the daycare centre has also won the 2023 International Award for Wood Architecture, awarded by five European architectural journals.

“I also consider the awards as a tribute to our high-quality early childhood education,” Simons states.

Most importantly, positive feedback has been received from the users of the building.

“We have received particular praise for the brightness and spaciousness of the spaces. Children love being at the daycare and enjoy themselves both indoors and in the yard activities,” Simons rejoices.

Finance for Finland's green transition

MuniFin has offered its customers green finance for sustainable investments since 2016. Funding for green projects is sourced by issuing green bonds. For investors, MuniFin’s green bonds offer a way to finance positive impacts through carefully selected projects in e.g. buildings, transportation and renewable energy categories.

Read more about green bonds

Text: Anne Laiho
Photo: The municipality of Tuusula

MuniFin awarded as the Best SSA ESG Bond Issuer

The award is given to an SSA, Sovereigns, Supranational, and Agencies, borrower that is active in international and local SSA bond markets, offering a full range of products, in private and public format, in multiple currencies across the yield curve and to the broadest range of SSA ESG bond investors. CMD Portal is an independent collaborative market data network for bond and money market professionals. 

CMD Portal praised MuniFin for our long-term commitment to sustainability. In October, one highlight on our ESG path, was the publication of the new Sustainability Agenda with clear long-term objectives for our sustainability efforts. The agenda sets two main themes: supporting the Finnish welfare society and accelerating Finland’s green transition through our financing, for which we source funds with our sustainable bonds.  

“Our customers play a significant role in achieving Finland’s climate goals. Therefore, we aim for at least one-third of long-term customer financing to be green and social finance by 2030. The most notable change compared to our previous initiatives, is that we set reduction targets for financed buildings. Our goal is to achieve a reduction to 8 kgCO2 per m2 by 2035 and our green finance plays a vital role in achieving this target”, says Sustainability Analyst Mikko Noronen from MuniFin’s Funding and Sustainability team. 

On the sustainable bonds front, the year had two successful issuances. In February, MuniFin issued a record-sized EUR 1 billion green bond, which was the largest ever EUR denominated green bond by a Nordic SSA issuer. It was quickly nearly twice oversubscribed and 80% of the high-quality orderbook was allocated to ESG investors. Another highlight was the successful USD 100 million social bond in August, which was issued as a private placement. 

“The past year continued to be successful on the ESG front and we are extremely happy for this recognition. We aim to maintain our presence in the sustainable bonds market also next year when we are planning to issue EUR 9 –10 billion of new long-term funding. The sizes of our sustainable bonds will depend on the development of the customer financing portfolio”, says Senior Manager Karoliina Kajova from MuniFin’s Funding team. 

MuniFin also wins runner-up for the Best ESG Issuer Award. Our active presence and successful issuances have been acknowledged by CMD Portal also before. In April, MuniFin’s record-size green bond earned the TopDeal acknowledgement, and in January, MuniFin earned the award of the Best Structured Notes Issuer, which was the third year in a row for this recognition.  

MuniFin is Finland’s pioneer in sustainable finance 

In 2016, MuniFin was the first financial institution in Finland to offer green finance for climate and environmentally friendly projects and was the first Finnish issuer of green bonds.  

In 2020, MuniFin became the first financial institution in Finland to issue social bonds, which is offered to projects that promote equality, communality, safety, welfare, or regional vitality.  

These bonds are an integral part of our funding strategy. Both green and social bonds have their own frameworks. 

Read more about our green and social bonds

Read more 

MuniFin issues a record-breaking EUR 1 billion green bond 

MuniFin’s sustainability agenda aims to increase the amount of sustainable finance and reduce financed emissions 

Further information  

Antti Kontio – Head of Funding and Sustainability  

+358 50 3700 285  

Mikko Noronen – Sustainability Analyst, Funding and Sustainability 

+358 50 479 7533 

Karoliina Kajova – Senior Manager, Funding  

+358 50 5767 707  

Lari Toppinen – Senior Analyst, Funding 

+358 50 4079 300  

Aaro Koski – Analyst, Funding 

+358 45 138 7465 

MuniFin issues a record-breaking EUR 1 billion green bond

The mandate was announced on Tuesday 14 February and the books were opened the following morning at mid-swaps -1bps area. Demand for MuniFin’s first green issuance this year was strong from the outset and the books were finally closed just 2,5 hours later in excess of EUR 2.2 billion. The transaction pays an annual coupon of 3.00% and was priced at mid-swaps -3bps. 

Nearly 80% of the high-quality orderbook was allocated to ESG investors. Otherwise, the allocation was well diversified as 46% went to banks and 31% to Asset Managers. Geographically, Nordics took 37% followed by DACH at 29% and Benelux at 13%.  

“This transaction marks already the 8th green bond issuance in MuniFin’s history, and it is encouraging to see how the demand for sustainable bonds keeps on growing. We are extremely happy with the outcome and the strong support from the ESG investor community. As a new member of the MuniFin Funding and Sustainability team, this was also personally exciting for me as this was my first large issuance to be involved in since I joined MuniFin”, says Analyst Aaro Koski. 

With this record-breaking green bond MuniFin has issued approximately 40% of this year’s EUR 8-9 billion long-term funding target.  

Read the press release:

Transaction details

Issuer:Municipality Finance Plc (“MuniFin”)
Ratings:Aa1 / AA+ (both Stable) by Moody’s / S&P
Size:EUR 1,000,000,000
Coupon:3% annual, Actual/Actual (ICMA), following unadjusted
Pricing Date:15th February 2023
Payment Date:22nd February 2023
Maturity Date:25th September 2028
Mid Swap Spread:-3bps
Joint Bookrunners:CACIB / Danske Bank / HSBC / NatWest Markets

Comments from bookrunners

“Credit Agricole CIB is proud to have assisted MuniFin with its successful return to the green bond market. MuniFin not only achieved an outstanding result in terms of tight pricing and diversified high-quality investor demand, it also raised the bar on the green bond issue size of EUR 1 billion – the largest EUR green bond in the Nordic SSA market to date. Credit Agricole CIB would like to congratulate the MuniFin team for its longstanding commitment to Sustainability and for continuously supporting the development within the Nordic region and on a global scale.” 

Lawrence Duquesne-Garner, Managing Director, SSA Origination, Credit Agricole CIB

“This is a fantastic outcome for Munifin and a testament of the quality in their recently updated green bond framework. We are pleased to see a Munifin being able to attract such a strong order book with pricing through their EUR curve despite an uncertain market backdrop. Danske Bank is proud to have supported Munifin with the framework update and as a lead manager on the first green bond issue thereafter.”  

Gustav Landström, Head of SSA Origination at Danske Bank

“A stellar result for MuniFin, capitalizing on constructive market conditions to print its largest ever green benchmark. Today’s deal highlights the strong following MuniFin receives from the global investor base as well underlining MuniFin’s strength as a green issuer. The deal was 2x oversubscribed, allowing pricing to move 2bps through execution and price with a minimal new issue concession. HSBC is proud to have helped lead this transaction. Congratulations to the MuniFin team.”

Sabrina Khalfoune, SSA DCM, HSBC

“With this transaction, MuniFin have issued their largest green benchmark to date. This represents an ongoing commitment from MuniFin to create large liquid benchmarks in Green format and also highlights an increased engagement from the investor community. The latter point is evidenced by a 2x oversubscribed book and issuance at fair value. ESG is at the core of NatWest’s business model and we are incredibly proud to have been involved in this issuance.”

Damien Carde, Head of FBG DCM, NatWest Markets

Finance for Finland’s green transition

MuniFin has offered its customers green finance for sustainable investments since 2016. Funding for green projects is sourced by issuing green bonds. For investors, MuniFin’s green bonds offer a way to finance positive impacts through carefully selected projects in buildings, transportation, renewable energy and water and waste water management categories. 

Read more about our green bonds

Further information 

Joakim Holmström – Executive Vice President, Capital Markets and Sustainability 

+358 50 4443 638  

Antti Kontio – Head of Funding and Sustainability 

+358 50 3700 285 

Karoliina Kajova – Senior Manager, Funding 

+358 50 5767 707 

Lari Toppinen – Analyst, Funding 

+358 50 4079 300 

Aaro Koski – Analyst, Funding

+358 45 138 7465

The wooden apartment building quarter in Kuokkala sparks spontaneous meetings

The wooden apartment building quarter in Kuokkala is being developed by the Yrjö and Hanna Foundation, and it aims to be a pioneering project both in terms of its environmental consciousness and communality. The quarter is entitled Kalon, and it won the Asuntoreformi architecture competition in 2018. The name Kalon stems from ancient Greek philosophy and means moral beauty, beauty that is more than skin deep.

The quarter will consist of five wooden apartment buildings, which will have 166 apartments in total.

“Kalon completes the neighbourhood. The architecture and materials of the buildings tie them seamlessly to the surrounding buildings, the Kuokkala wooden church and the pioneering Puukuokka wooden apartment buildings”, says Ilkka Murto, director of real estate management at the Yrjö and Hanna Foundation.

The Kalon buildings are constructed from prefabricated wooden elements, meaning that 70–80% of the buildings are made at the factory before they are transported to the building site.

The buildings are heated with geothermal heat, and they have solar panels on the roof to generate electricity. The residents will be able to monitor their energy consumption in real time.

“The Yrjö and Hanna Foundation has decided to use geothermal heat as the primary source of energy in its buildings whenever possible. Finding places for the geothermal wells in the relatively small courtyard of the Kalon quarter was a bit of a challenge, but geothermal heat is a worthwhile investment that will pay itself back”, says Murto.

Intentional bottlenecks

The Kalon quarter consists of five wooden apartment buildings that have 166 apartments in total. Four of the five buildings have been financed with MuniFin’s green finance. Construction commenced in autumn 2022 and is expected to be completed in a couple of years. One of the buildings will have right-of-occupancy housing, two will be dedicated to communal senior housing and one will be designed for people with memory disorders. The fifth building will have non-subsidised housing offered at a market price.

“We’ve studied memory-friendly housing solutions together with the Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland ARA and Aalto University. People with mild memory disorders can live safely in their own home for longer if the building is designed with this purpose in mind. Their life can be made easier by things like the smart use of colours”, Murto explains.

Communality has played a key role in Kalon’s design. Kalon will have common facilities, carsharing and possibly also a library of things.

“The solutions employed in the quarter foster communality. Before, we included a small common room in every building, but these are not used a whole lot. By putting the common facilities of all five buildings in one building instead, we were able to create larger and more functional common facilities for everyone.”

In Kalon, the common facilities include a kitchen, a sauna and a laundry. To increase communality, special attention has been paid to how people move from one place to another within the quarter. For example, residents walk past the common facilities on their way to the bus stop, and mail is not delivered to the apartments, but instead to letter boxes located in the common facilities.

“The common room is placed in the most interesting spot, both in terms of foot traffic and functionality. We are intentionally trying to create a bit of a bottleneck to spark spontaneous meetings”, says Murto.

Communality is further increased by Kalon’s community coordinator. Activities and community services will be developed in accordance with the residents’ needs.

“Time will tell what kinds of joint activities and joint use are created and which of them will become a permanent fixture.”

Good design makes life easier for everyone

The Yrjö and Hanna Foundation works hard to improve housing. The Kalon apartments are flexible and can be adapted to various situations in life. Solutions common in senior housing, such as zero thresholds and storage space for assistive equipment, have also been introduced to family apartments. One thing the Yrjö and Hanna Foundation will not compromise is accessibility.

“One of our buildings was designed for people who need a wheelchair. It was so successful that after a while, half of the fourteen residents were able to move about in their home without a wheelchair. Highly functional solutions are not necessarily expensive if they are well-planned and included in the designs early on. Many solutions designed for senior citizens also make life easier for families with children”, Murto points out.

The Kalon buildings, like all other buildings built by the Yrjö and Hanna Foundation, will have larger-than-usual elevators. They not only make life easier for senior citizens, but also for people with a baby pram. The importance of good design and communication is particularly pronounced in development projects and experimental projects.

“To make timber construction cost-effective, it’s vital to choose the main contractor at an early stage. This allows us to design the solutions together, which means fewer surprises during construction and helps keep the costs in check”, Murto explains.

The Kalon buildings feature large balconies and functional common facilities.

“We want to challenge existing practices in the field. But when building affordable housing, every choice must be weighed carefully to keep the rents from going up. We’ve had to make some compromises in this project, too”, Murto concedes.

The Yrjö and Hanna Foundation has worked closely not just with the architects and the contractor, but also with the City of Jyväskylä and the Kuokkala parish. The ground floor of the right-of-occupancy building will have facilities in which the parish will offer daytime activities for children. Joint activities are also in the plans, to be specified after the buildings are completed.

“This is a really nice project. Collaboration with all parties has been extremely fluent”, Murto commends.

Finance for Finland’s green transition

MuniFin has offered its customers green finance for sustainable investments since 2016. Funding for green projects is sourced by issuing green bonds. For investors, MuniFin’s green bonds offer a way to finance positive impacts through carefully selected projects in e.g. buildings, transportation and renewable energy categories.

Read more about green bonds

Text: Hannele Borra
Picture: Collaboratorio Oy

More ambition and transparency – MuniFin’s renewed Green Bond Framework has been published

Since the issuance of MuniFin’s first green bond in 2016, the sustainable bond market has been going through a lot of changes.

“The new framework has been developed to better address the current environmental challenges and to take new regulation, such as the EU Taxonomy and the proposed Green Bond Standard, into account”, says Sustainability Manager Kalle Kinnunen.

The new regulations have been used as guiding tools in defining the eligibility criteria. MuniFin has also mapped its project categories to the EU taxonomy activities.

“With this update, we now have firmer and more transparent eligibility criteria”, Kinnunen says.

The revision also involved some streamlining. There are now four project categories instead of seven: buildings, transportation, renewable energy as well as water and waste water management.

An important addition to the framework is the possibility to finance biodiversity and climate change adaptation projects. They were added as sub-categories.

“For example, green roofs or flood barriers, could have been financed as a part of building projects before but with this addition we wanted to facilitate such investments directly. In addition, the new framework allows us to provide more transparency on the impact of the projects”, Kinnunen explains.

These updates along with the strengthened internal resources allowed changes to the evaluation and selection process. In the past, MuniFin has relied on the external Green Evaluation Team, but now the evaluation and selection of green finance projects will be conducted by MuniFin’s own sustainability experts.

“This change would not have been possible without the years of valuable experience we have gained working with the external Green Evaluation Team. The new evaluation and selection process allows us to serve our customers more flexibly at the time of their financing needs. We will not compromise the scrutiny of evaluation and selection. On the contrary, the transparent criteria ensure the quality of approved green projects. As the market evolves, it will also be more straightforward to introduce additional criteria”, Kinnunen says.

MuniFin is open for dialogue with customers, investors and other stakeholders in order to enhance the framework and practices further.

“Our customers play a key role in achieving Finland’s goal of climate neutrality by 2035. Green finance is an important way to promote their green projects and we will keep adding ambition also in the future”, Kinnunen says.

External review

Cicero Shades of Green has provided an external review for the Green Bond Framework, including an assessment of the EU Taxonomy alignment. MuniFin managed to keep the Medium Green shading and even to raise the Governance score to Excellent.

There will also be an annual post-issuance review that confirms that the green bond proceeds have been allocated to eligible green finance projects.

The framework and the second party opinion are available here:

More information

Karoliina Kajova – Senior Manager, Funding

+358 50 5767 707

Kalle Kinnunen – Sustainability Manager, Funding and Sustainability

+358 400 489 425

First green bond this year a hit among ESG investors despite a challenging market backdrop

On 10 May 2022 MuniFin priced an EUR 500 million fixed-rate green benchmark due 17 May 2029. Utilizing a supportive issuance window and a strong demand for green assets, MuniFin opened books at 8:15 London time with price guidance at mid-swaps –8bs area. The limit was fixed to EUR 500 million.

The demand was strong from the outset and just in two hours the spread was tightened by 3bps. Shortly after, the books were closed in excess of EUR 1.4 billion. The transaction pays a coupon of 1.5% (annual) and a spread of mid-swaps – 11bps.

The transaction attracted a significant amount of ESG investors: nearly 80% of the final orderbook went to green investors. Central banks and official institutions took 38%, Asset managers 24% and bank treasuries 22%. Geographically; Germany, Austria and Switzerland took 24%, followed by BeNeLux at 23% and Nordics at 16%.

“The multiple times oversubscribed transaction shows us, once again, how solid our investor base truly is. Despite the volatile atmosphere in the market, our green bond attracted also brand new investors.  We are extremely pleased with the outcome and especially the great support from the ESG investor community”, says Analyst Lari Toppinen from MuniFin funding team.

Finance for Finland’s green transition

MuniFin has offered its customers green finance for sustainable investments since 2016. Funding for green projects is sourced by issuing green bonds. For investors, MuniFin’s green bonds offer a way to finance positive impacts through carefully selected projects in e.g. sustainable building, public transportation and renewable energy categories.

Read more about our green bonds

Transaction details

Issuer:Municipality Finance Plc (“MuniFin”)
Ratings:Aa1 / AA+ (both Stable) by Moody’s / S&P
Size:EUR 500,000,000
Coupon:1.5% annual, Actual/Actual (ICMA), following unadjusted
Pricing Date:10th May 2022
Payment Date:17th May 2022
Maturity Date:17th May 2029
Mid Swap Spread:-11bps
Joint Bookrunners:BNPP, Danske Bank, NatWest, SEB

Comments from bookrunners

“Congratulations to the MuniFin team for successfully launching their second EUR benchmark and first green bond of 2022. To execute such a solid transaction given the volatile market backdrop is a strong testimony of Munifin’s ability to build a strong and diversified investor following.”

Salma Guerich, DCM SSA, BNPP

“Congratulations to MuniFin on their highly impressive return to the EUR Green Bond market. With final pricing through fair value and a large and high quality orderbook in challenging market conditions, this truly demonstrates the strength of the credit and the support that MuniFin enjoys from the ESG focused investor community. Danske Bank is proud to have been part in this successful transaction.”

Axel Zetterblom, SSA Origination, Danske Bank

“A fantastic return to the Green Bond market for MuniFin. The quality of the investor base came through from the outset with investors showing strong support for the first MuniFin Green issuance of 2022. Amidst a more volatile backdrop, the extremely positive reception exemplifies the quality and demand for the MuniFin name, and support for their Green framework. We are very proud to have been involved at NatWest,”

Kerr Finlayson, Head of FBG Syndicate, NatWest

“SEB is delighted to have taken part in MuniFin’s latest triumph in the EUR Green bond market. Despite significant market volatility creating a challenging backdrop, the transaction garnered a high-quality, multiple times subscribed order book, and a final reoffer level through the fair value curve. This is a clear demonstration of MuniFin’s long-standing reputation amongst the ESG investor community.”

Rebekah Bray, Deputy Head of SSA Origination, SEB

Further information

Joakim Holmström – Executive Vice President, Capital Markets and Sustainability

+358 50 4443 638 

Antti Kontio – Head of Funding and Sustainability

+358 50 3700 285

Karoliina Kajova – Senior Manager, Funding

+358 50 5767 707

Miia Palviainen – Manager, Funding

+358 50 5980 829

Lari Toppinen – Analyst, Funding

+358 50 4079 300

The energy-efficient Pirkkala campus: School by day and conference and culture centre by night

Planned for completion in 2025, the Pirkkala campus is an exceptionally large construction project – the largest in the municipality’s history. Pirkkala is one of Finland’s most attractive municipalities in terms of its relative population growth, and the number of its residents recently surpassed 20,000, so the need for a larger campus is urgent.

The construction site is busy with activity. The piling and foundations are already complete, and elements are currently being installed.

“The work is going well and we are right on schedule. The pandemic gave us some problems, but we cleared them without any major delays”, says Matti Juola, project manager at Rapp Valvontakonsultit Oy.

Parts of the adjacent Naistenmatka school, built in the 70s, were demolished to make way for the new campus. The old school building could not have served Pirkkala’s needs even after major renovations.

“Long and narrow corridors are a thing of the past. There was no way to turn the building into a modern school”, comments Timo Orjala, facility services manager at Pirkkala municipality.

Smooth access control is essential in multi-purpose buildings.

Multi-purpose facilities require careful planning

The Pirkkala campus will primarily serve the needs of 1,400 pupils in primary and secondary schools and early childhood education, but all residents will benefit from the new facilities. All campus areas will also be accessible during evenings and weekends. The multi-purpose hall is perfect for sports, and the auditorium doubles as a concert hall and a theatre stage. Special attention has been paid to the sound systems, acoustics and presentation technology on the campus.

The elegantly sleek three-storey building has a brick facade and lots of windows and glass surfaces. The building is not structurally complicated, but a lot of effort has gone into the design of the multi-purpose facilities. To ensure smooth access control, the premises will be equipped with smart locks, which will be programmed with both permanent and one-time access rights.

“A key can grant access to a specific path at a specific time. For example, if the user reserves a multi-purpose room for one night, the control system will change access rights only temporarily. The key will not give access to all premises, but only to the appropriate areas”, Juola explains.

The wishes of many different user groups were heard during the design phase. Plans for the individual facilities have been discussed in several workshops, and more will be organised in the future. The plan is for all groups to benefit.

“The workshops have discussed the facilities at a very detailed level. For example, teachers wanted each classroom to have two washbasins, one with a hand washing tap and one with a kitchen tap”, Juola points out.

“The users know what they need, and the designers know how to make it happen. Bringing them to the same table can achieve the best outcome, but also save time and money. And the plumber won’t have to ponder which type of tap to install in the classroom.”

Conceptual drawing of the cafeteria in Pirkkala campus. The area is in two floors and has a lot of light and long wooden tables,
Many user groups were heard in the design phase.

Consistency across the board is the key to energy efficiency

The campus project was praised by MuniFin’s Green Evaluation Team for its moderate energy consumption and carbon footprint.

“The energy efficiency and carbon footprint of the campus were included as criteria already in the tendering phase and used to compare bids. Municipalities have a strong desire to participate in climate work”, Orjala says.

The new campus will be financed by MuniFin’s property leasing, from which the municipality already has previous experience. Tommi Ruokonen, Pirkkala’s CFO, notes that flexible real estate leasing is well suited for long-term projects, as the financing costs will be distributed evenly and the large loan amount will not strain the municipality’s finances.

Property leasing was the best option for Pirkkala, in part thanks to the margin discount granted for green finance. However, the municipality aims for its new projects to meet the green criteria regardless of the financing method.

“This coincides with our climate goals and will also save the municipality some money”, Ruokonen adds.

The YIT Group will take responsibility for the project’s turnkey contract. YIT’s bid included a comprehensive approach to the environmental aspects of the project. When looking at the entire lifecycle of the buildings, the new campus will consume less than half of the energy of its predecessor.

“The new campus will have geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels and effective heat recovery. We didn’t invent any ground-breaking solutions, but just applied what we already know are tried and tested ways to save energy”, says Janne Hynynen, project manager at YIT.

Juola emphasises that environmental factors must be considered consistently across the board. If they are to be taken from paper to practice, they must not only be accounted for in municipal strategies, but also in the tendering requirements.

According to Juola, the tender process should focus on goals instead of details. In addition to environmental aspects, this type of thinking is also well suited for air quality, electricity consumption, heating, lighting or acoustics, for example.

“The best results are reached when the professionals are given clear goals and a free hand to achieve them”, Juola concludes.

Text: Roope Huotari
Kuvat: BST-Arkkitehdit Oy