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

Finnish affordable social housing organisations forerunners in sustainable construction – majority of loans are green or social finance

The Finnish affordable social housing sector plays a significant role in the development of a sustainable welfare state. In 2023, a vast majority of MuniFin’s housing loans were granted to either green or social finance projects.

An increasing amount of housing in Finland is being constructed and financed with consideration for social and environmental factors. Our customers, including affordable social housing organizations and municipal rental housing projects, play a significant role in this trend. Last year, the share of green and social finance in our housing loans reached a record high of 63 percent.

“An increasing number of our customers have made it their mission to carry out their projects more sustainably, taking into account environmental, climate or social benefits. Affordable social housing production is at the absolute forefront of sustainable construction in Finland”, says Päivi Petäjäniemi, Customer Relations Manager at MuniFin.

MuniFin was the first in Finland to start offering green finance for climate and environmentally friendly projects in 2016. In 2020, we also became the first to launch social finance, which emphasizes the social benefits of the projects: equality, communality, safety, welfare, or regional vitality.

“Our customers were among the first to learn about green and social finance, and we have persistently kept the topic on the agenda ever since. Nowadays, they have comprehensive knowledge of their alternatives, and they proactively seek green and social finance to give visibility to their projects. All their projects are significant for the Finnish welfare society, but the ones that fall under the green and social finance framework, are truly best in class”, Petäjäniemi explains.

Buildings and construction account for about a third of Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions*. The figures show that Finnish municipalities and non-profit housing operators are strongly involved in climate efforts.

The energy efficiency of affordable social housing buildings is generally higher than buildings in the private sector*. One factor is the forthcoming Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSDR), which is already directing the larger operators towards more sustainable choices. Also, the residents of newly constructed homes are increasingly demanding more energy-efficient housing solutions.

“More and more buildings are built in energy class A, which is the minimum demand in our green finance framework. Our customers are bold and want to try new things, so I expect to see a rising number of projects that also consider the impacts of the entire life cycle and construction chain. The challenge for now is that costs may seem higher in the construction phase. Saved energy costs for example, show in the long run, and our customers have strict demands for affordability from The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (Ara), which oversees the projects.”

The prerequisites for the approval of social finance projects consider the social benefits of the projects.

“Our customers are increasingly planning housing as a whole, and this is clearly visible in projects for special groups. For example, they want to provide every student with their own apartment, but there is increasing investment in shared spaces, which promotes community and prevents loneliness. Residents are also offered various services, such as car-sharing or resident counselling”, Petäjäniemi says.

Finnish affordable social housing supports social mixing and brings down homelessness

In Finland, affordable social housing is mainly provided by municipality-owned companies and nationwide non-profit organisations. The production is financed through interest subsidy loans. The loans are guaranteed by the Finnish state through The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (Ara), which is administered by the Ministry of the Environment. Alternatively, housing projects can also be loans to municipality owned companies. These loans do not have a state interest subsidy, but they come with a 100% municipal guarantee.

MuniFin is the main financier of affordable social housing production in Finland. The loan periods are long, up to 41 years.

The Finnish government updated its housing policy development programme in 2021. Some of the main objectives of this programme include increasing housing construction in growing urban areas and eradicating homelessness within two government terms. Affordable social housing has played a remarkable role in tackling homelessness in Finland, especially family homelessness. Affordable social housing is also instrumental in preventing segregation and facilitating labour mobility.

Read more:

Finnish system for affordable social housing supports social mixing and brings down homelessness

Our sustainability agenda sets the direction until 2035

As outlined in our strategy, key aspects of sustainability at MuniFin include acting as our customers’ partner in building a sustainable society while efficiently managing climate-related and environmental risks.

Our long-term impact stems from the products and services we offer our customers. In our sustainability agenda published in 2023, we set the direction and goals for our sustainability efforts until 2035.

In this agenda, we commit to increasing the proportion of sustainable finance in our lending portfolio into one third by 2030. In 2023, the share was 21,3 percent. We also set emission reduction targets for financed buildings. Our target level is 8 kgCO₂/m² by 2035, representing reduction compared to the 2022 level.

MuniFin's Sustainability Agenda

*The Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries RT (CFCI):

*Finnish Affordable Housing Companies’ Federation:

More information

Karoliina Kajova

Senior Manager, Funding

 +358 50 5767 707 

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

MuniFin’s role as a trusted financing partner has grown even more important – 2023 annual report and sustainable finance impact reports published

We have published our annual report for 2023. We have also published the impact reports on our green and social finance and the Pillar III disclosure report on capital adequacy.

The year 2023 was the fourth consecutive year marked by instability. In these uncertain times, our role as our customers’ trusted financing partner has grown even more important. At MuniFin, 2023 was a year when we put sustainability even more front and centre as we revised our strategy and published our first sustainability agenda.

The volatile operating environment did not significantly affect our performance. Our operations remained stable, and we were again able to successfully carry out our core mandate of providing affordable long-term financing for our customers.

Our long-term customer finance increased by about 10% from the previous year. Our new long-term customer financing remained on a par with 2022, totalling EUR 4.4 billion. Our profitability was slightly higher than in 2022.

The amount of our sustainable finance, i.e. our green and social finance, grew by about EUR 2 billion in 2023. Our sustainable finance products are our way of encouraging our customers to make more responsible investments. Read more about the impacts of our sustainable finance in the green and social impact reports published today.

What was the year 2023 like at MuniFin?

MuniFin Annual Report 2023

MuniFin Green Impact Report 2023

MuniFin Social Impact Report 2023

MuniFin Pillar III Disclosure Report 2023

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

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

MuniFin warmly congratulates the city of Kokkola and the Piispanmäki multipurpose building on winning the Green Pioneer of the Year competition.

Over the course of the autumn 2023, MuniFin has looked at five finalists in the company’s competition for the title of Green Pioneer. Each of them has worked ambitiously to advance climate and environmental goals. Of these five finalists, the city of Kokkola and the city’s Piispanmäki multipurpose building project have now been chosen as the green pioneer of 2023. The multipurpose building, which will serve schoolchildren, daycare children, and city employees, will be completed in Piispanmäki in 2025.

Watch the video to see why Kokkola was awarded and what the prize money will be used for.

Sustainability and change were boldly taken into their own hands in Kokkola

The selection and evaluation of the finalists was the done by the Green Finance Team at MuniFin. Sustainability finance experts saw exemplary characteristics in each of the five finalists and their flagship projects. However, what made Piispanmäki special was how strongly the project showed commitment of the city to the realization of sustainable investment.

In Piispanmäki, achieving environmental goals has been ensured by taking the implementation of the project into their own hands. This has required careful resource allocation, participation, and commitment throughout the organization, the Green Finance Team assesses. This success, in turn, requires an effort to dismantle silos and familiar ways and create new practices. The planning of the project reflects familiarity with the requirements of green financing, such as energy efficiency and renewable self-sufficiency energy. The building will act as a learning environment for sustainable development. These factors made a deep impression on MuniFin’s experts.

“What was impressive was the extent to which sustainable construction has been examined in Kokkola, but also the precise and detailed material that made it easy for the Green Finance Team to assess the project. I would use the power word “ownership”: the city has boldly taken the themes of change into their own hands and preferred to do things themselves rather than buy things from outside. This has resulted in excellent impacts in the Piispanmäki project”, praises Rami Erkkilä, Senior Expert on Sustainable Financing at MuniFin.

The city of Kokkola has followed its strategic goals impressively and the work has been supported by the whole organization. At the same time, valuable learnings are accumulated and can be applied in future projects.

“Kokkola joined the Hinku network in June 2022. The following year, MuniFin chose us as the green pioneer of the year. We are enormously proud of this recognition. This has been a tremendous success story and speaks of the potential of the city in implementing sustainable development projects. The passion and desire of all stakeholders to not only achieve but also exceed the set goals have made this an exceptional experience. Of course, it also challenges and obliges us to continue the same path”, comments Veli-Matti Isoaho, Building Manager of the city of Kokkola, on the victory.

The prize money is used to involve Kokkola’s children and young people in green thinking

The Green Pioneer competition prize is 10,000 euros, which the winner can use freely for a sustainable development project of their choice. In Kokkola, there is already a preliminary idea of the use of the funds.

“We plan to organize a competition for schoolchildren, where the children get to brainstorm competition entries related to nature topics, such as recycling or climate change mitigation. The most creative and idea-rich works of each age group will be rewarded. The environment is a central issue for the happiness of younger generations. That’s why in Kokkola we also believe in the input of children and young people and want them to join in brainstorming a green future”, describes Isoaho.

The Green Pioneer of the Year was awarded for the first time in 2019, when the city of Joensuu won the competition with its “comprehensive approach”.

MuniFin thanks all the finalists of 2023 for their exemplary work on climate and environmental issues and for making these goals a part of everyday life. The other four finalists in the Green Pioneer of the Year competition were the municipality of Siuntio, the municipality of Pirkkala, Y-Säätiö (a foundation providing affordable social housing) and Sivakka (an affordable social housing provider owned by the City of Oulu.

Criteria for Piispanmäki multipurpose building’s victory:

  • In Kokkola, there is an exceptional ownership in the implementation of sustainable development projects. Their own expertise is actively developed.
  • In Kokkola, they have succeeded in an exemplary way in breaking down organizational silos and creating new ways of working.
  • The project is being implemented in accordance with exceptionally comprehensive sustainability goals, which at the same time reflect the best practices of green finance listed in the MuniFin’s Green Bond Framework.
  • Excellent environmental performance is achieved through energy-efficient solutions, but also through materials and certified practices at different stages of construction.
  • The diverse consideration and utilization of the environment as part of teaching and user experience.
  • The significant size of the building and its impacts during construction and use.
  • The building’s position in its environment as a place that brings together different stakeholders, which in part reduces local emissions and reduces the need for errand travel.
  • Social and societal ripple effects, for example, to different hobby and activity groups. The building offers extensive facilities for third sector activities.

The new urban trams in the capital region are leading towards a low emission future

At the end of October, the fast tram 15, which runs from Keilaniemi in Espoo to Itäkeskus in Helsinki, started its operations. This approximately 25-kilometre-long line replaces the previously heavily trafficked bus line 550. Other new line starting its operations in 2024, connects the current tram, metro, and train networks to each other on the route between Kalasatama and Pasila.

Green financing accelerates low emission public transport

Both tram projects have been financed with MuniFin’s green financing. This form of financing is intended for investment projects that produce clear and measurable positive effects on the climate and the environment. According to Satu Talvio, environmental expert at Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd, MuniFin was a natural financing partner, as the projects are based on reducing emissions and being environmentally friendly.

“The projects have been implemented based on political will, the aim of which is sustainable growth and dense urban structure of the city. Tram projects enable residents to move around with low emissions and reduce traffic carbon emissions. The responsibility of urban transport, on the other hand, is to build rail infrastructure with as low emissions as possible. Our strategic goal is to be carbon neutral by 2030”, says Talvio.

Both projects have been implemented with the alliance model, in which the client organisation established by the cities, the planner and the contractor merge into a single alliance organisation.

“This type of cooperation has produced many new insights and innovations. Thanks to the alliance model, the process is more transparent, and the total costs are lower than in the traditional contract model. In addition, possible risks are shared equally among all parties”, Talvio continues.

Learning opportunities and low-emission mobility

Both tram projects are significant, as they are the first major rail investments in the capital region for a long time.

“Along the way, we have learned a lot about material efficiency, circular economy, and certifications. The project named Raide-Jokeri or fast tram 15 has progressed excellently and was completed ahead of schedule. On the other hand, global crises and the resulting price increases have had a greater impact on the cost increase of the Kalasatama to Pasila project due to the timing of construction, but they have not affected the schedule”, Talvio recounts.

Karoliina Rajakallio, Chief Financial and Strategy Officer of Kaupunkiliikenne Oy, also sees the projects as development laboratories.

We are not only developing the end result of the project, but at the same time we are learning and creating guidelines for future projects, Rajakallio states.

The rail projects have many effects on the everyday life of city residents from both a mobility and urban development perspective.

“Fast trams make their impact areas more attractive and catalyse urban development projects and area renewals. They increase the demand for premises and house prices, thus improving the vitality of the areas”, Rajakallio lists.

Trams also help city residents implement green values in their daily lives.

“City residents can move from place to place with low emissions, which reduces individual carbon footprint”, Talvio continues.

Fast tram traffic has started well after the initial minor technical challenges.

“Although the large number of passengers on the opening weekend caused minor schedule delays, the situation has since levelled off. The operation and adherence to the schedule of fast tram traffic are now at a good level. Overall, the start of fast tram traffic has gone very smoothly”, Talvio says.

Green Finance

MuniFin grants green financing to projects that generate clear and measurable positive climate and environmental impacts. Green financing, that is more affordable than ordinary loans or leasing, has been granted since 2016, and today there are over 300 projects within the financing from Helsinki to Inari.

Read more about green bonds

Final report on financing the green transition: Major investments are required but also create new opportunities for Finland

The final report of the national working group on financing the green transition in Finland, published on 9 December 2022, states that to mitigate climate change, halt biodiversity loss and transition to a circular economy, major investments will be needed from businesses, households and the public sector. The green transition will require system-level change in all of society and a comprehensive reform of economic structures, but it will also increase demand for Finnish expertise.

In January 2022, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of the Environment, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment appointed a national working group to get a comprehensive view on financing the green transition and financing measures to accelerate the transition in an ecologically, economically and socially sustainable manner. According to the working group, Russia’s war of aggression has escalated the change in the geopolitical situation and increased the urgency of the green transition and the need to break away from the fossil-fuel economy.

The report presents the key objectives defined by the working group to develop green transition financing and offers solutions and an estimate of the scale of the related investment needs. The report also discusses the role of various parties in financing the green transition and the different ways in which sustainability is taken into account in the financial markets. The working group submitted its final report to Minister of Finance Annika Saarikko, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Maria Ohisalo and Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä on 9 December.

The working group was made up of public and private sector experts. One of the working group’s members was MuniFin’s Head of Funding and Sustainability Antti Kontio.

“Being a part of this important national working group has been inspiring. As a result of our work, the key parties in the green transition now have a shared view of the development needs and recommendations for the transition”, says Kontio.

According to the report, the green transition will open up new opportunities for Finland by increasing global demand for Finnish expertise, sustainable solutions and innovations.

“Our customers – municipalities and affordable social housing organisations – play a major role in the green transition. Our job at MuniFin is to support the important work our customers are doing to the best of our ability: by financing the green transition and by sharing our customers’ innovative sustainable solutions to help achieve the national goal of carbon neutrality by 2035”, Kontio explains.

The report is in Finnish and a summary in English can be found here.

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

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