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

More customer benefits and investments in sustainability – MuniFin published its 2021 Annual Report and Green and Social Impact Reports

The demand for financing in the municipal sector was moderate and lower than expected in 2021. This was due to an unexpectedly good economic and employment situation and the central government’s COVID-19 support for municipalities. In contrast, the demand for non-profit housing finance grew moderately and has remained largely unaffected throughout the pandemic. Our new long-term financing for 2021 totalled EUR 3.7 billion.

What was 2021 like at MuniFin? Watch the video below.

This year, we report the impacts of our green and social finance in separate reports. We grant green finance to projects that have verifiable positive impacts on the environment and social finance to projects that produce widespread social benefits.

The cover of the Green Impact Report. On the left hand side a car connected to a charger. On the left hand side a girl with a dog on the backseat of the car.
The cover of the Social Impact Report 2021. On the left, there's a wooden house, on the right a happy disabled woman wearing headphones.

Integrating sustainability and new operating models

Sustainability is interwoven even more closely into all our operations and the work of all our employees. In 2021, we started to work on calculations to make the environmental load of our own operations more visible. We also published our Sustainable Investment Framework, which summarises the sustainability principles, processes and responsibilities in our investment activities. Because sustainability is such an integral part of all our work, we have incorporated it directly into our operational reporting for the first time, instead of publishing a separate report.

MuniFin’s year 2021 was characterised by renewal and the rooting of new operating models.

“This year, we will continue to renew, improve our management and integrate sustainability into our operations even more closely”, says Esa Kallio, MuniFin’s president and CEO.

New heart of Valkeala

Kouvolan kaupungin suunnittelupäällikkö Risto Mikkola kuvattuna vaaleaa taustaa vasten.
According to Risto Mikkola, quality and environmentally friendly solutions were emphasised in the tendering phase.

“Eagerly anticipated”, sums up Risto Mikkola, planning manager at the City of Kouvola, describing the new community centre in the urban area of Valkeala, whose construction is set to begin in late summer. The comment is apt, considering that the project began in 2017, but had to be put on hold due to a school network reform in 2018.

The restructuring of the school network cut the number of schools in the area from 34 to 20. The old village schools are making room for new multi-purpose buildings that will also host day-care services, youth services, hobby clubs and local associations. The Valkeala community centre will be the first of these modern buildings.

“The building will rise on the main street, at the site of Valkeala’s old town hall. The community centre will become Valkeala’s new heart in many ways”, Mikkola predicts.

After the school network reform was settled, the work on the community centre has progressed on time – although without any visible construction, the design phase may have appeared slow to the local residents.

“Lots of work has been done, but so far there are no physical results to show for it. Now that we are about to enter the construction phase, the project will start feeling more tangible for the residents, too”, says Hellevi Kunnas, director of finance at the City of Kouvola.

In this project, the contractor is YIT Group. The contracts will be signed on 4 June, and the groundwork is set to begin late this summer.

High praise from the Green Evaluation Team

The Valkeala community centre is funded with MuniFin’s green finance, and the project scored the highest ever points from the MuniFin Green Evaluation Team in the suistainable buildings category. Risto Mikkola confirms that there were no special tricks involved: the high score was the result of determined and systematic work.

“In the tendering phase, we emphasised quality and environmentally friendly solutions, which worked out well. We’re very happy and also a little surprised to have scored this well”, Mikkola notes happily.

MuniFin’s Green Evaluation Team praised the community centre project for its material choices, energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, high utilisation rate of services, and the exemplary treatment of stormwater. The building will mainly use district heating, which is produced locally in Kouvola with exceptionally low emissions.

Green values played an important role not just in the building’s environmental impact, but also in its design. In the tendering process, the city set clear criteria for the role nature should play at the community centre. For example, all plans included the possibility of backyard farming.

“Children should have a chance to dig their hands in the dirt, if only for health reasons. This has been one of our goals right from the start”, Mikkola emphasises.

Breathing new life into the old population centre

Kouvolan kaupungin talousjohtaja Hellevi Kunnas kuvattuna vaaleaa taustaa vasten.
The community centre is by far the largest project the City of Kouvola has funded with lease financing, says Hellevi Kunnas.

The Valkeala community centre is by far the largest project the City of Kouvola has funded with lease financing and the first so called lifecycle project. The city has traditionally used its own funding and maintenance, but now wanted to try something new.

“We wanted to explore new alternatives because there are so many options available today. We have built some day‑care centres with lease financing before, and now we’ll get to test the lifecycle model in practice. It’s important not to get stuck doing things the same way”, explains Kunnas, the City of Kouvola director of finance.

Experience was also sought from outside the city, for example from the Heinsuo school in Hollola, where the lifecycle model has already proved successful. Another reference project is the Mansikkala school in Imatra, which is currently under construction. The purpose of visiting these schools with teachers was not only to learn about the lifecycle model, but also to hear opinions on what a modern learning environment should look like. After all, multi-purpose facilities are not without their challenges.

“When the curriculum was reformed in 2016, it swinged rather heavily in the direction of an open model. Soon after, it became clear that there cannot be too many groups working in the same space without the groups disturbing each other. Now we have taken a step back and combined the more separate and more open approaches”, Mikkola says.

The city and the service providers are currently drawing the big design lines for the community centre together with the teachers. Mikkola praises the lifecycle partner YIT for their model of participatory design.

“In May, before the summer holidays, we will make the major decisions that affect the building’s shape and yard functions. In the autumn, we will continue with details like the shelves and cabinets. YIT has provided a really good framework for this process.”

A small section of the old high school will be demolished in the summer to make room for the new 10,000-square-metre multi-purpose building. Excavation and piling work will begin towards the end of the summer, and foundations will be cast in the autumn.

The Valkeala community centre will kick off a series of large school projects in Kouvola. The next multi-purpose buildings are planned in Inkeroinen, with renovations planned for Kuusankoski and the Kouvola city centre as well. For local people, the school projects instil confidence in the vitality of their home region.

“Residents have had serious concerns about the future of this area. The community centre is an indication that we will continue to invest in Valkeala. The old town is gaining new vitality”, Kunnas summarises.

Written by Roope Huotari

Picture by YIT Oyj & Linja Arkkitehdit Oy

Photos by interviewees

Green finance for green pioneers

Since 2016, MuniFin has offered green finance to selected projects that promote the transition to low-carbon and climate resilient growth. Green projects are financed at a discount based on their estimated environmental benefits. Today, MuniFin’s green finance covers over 200 projects across Finland – from the capital of Helsinki to Inari in Northern Lapland.

Green projects range from sustainable buildings to sustainable public transportation, from waste to environmental management. They are selected using MuniFin’s Green Bonds Framework.

On the video, Saara Vauramo, programme director for the Lahti European Green Capital 2021 initiative, Teija Ojankoski, CEO of VAV Group, Janne Salonen, finance manager at the city of Tampere and Timo Kenakkala, mayor of Hämeenlinna, describe green projects and the ambitious climate work of cities and municipalities across Finland.

Watch the video!

Read more about MuniFin’s Green bonds

Download MuniFin’s Sustainable Bonds Impact Report (link, opens to a new window)

Class A all the way

In early summer, a group of lucky performing artists and other professionals in the industry will move to a building designed for them in the Kaleva district in Tampere. Situated right next to the new tramway line, the building is a collaboration between the Live Music Foundation ELMU and M2‑Kodit, a company owned by the Y‑Foundation Group offering affordable state-subsidised rental housing.

In 2015, the two foundations found that they share similar values, and 2017 saw the completion of their first collaboration project, the Jallukka building in Helsinki. In Jallukka Helsinki, some of the apartments are earmarked for musicians, and some are regular rental apartments that are rented out by M2‑Kodit. In Tampere, the Jallukka building only inhabits music industry and performing arts professionals.

“Tampere is an important music and theatre city, but it doesn’t have an artist house. This made it a natural choice for the second Jallukka”, explains ELMU’s chair Juha Tynkkynen.

The choice of location was spurred by the Tampere Tramway, which will start operating this year and make the city more interconnected. But luck also played a role.

“The MAL agreement on land use, housing and transport stipulates that 30% of the housing production in Tampere must be state-subsidised. We won a plot with a great location and the project moved forward quickly”, says Pekka Kampman, development director at the Y‑Foundation.

A convenient location with good connections is important for musicians and performing artists who often work late at night.

“The Tullikamari concert and events venue is within crawling distance”, jokes Tynkkynen.

Rehearsal spaces accessible in slippers

Jallukka Tampere has 39 apartments in total. Of these, 17 are earmarked for music industry professionals, and their tenants are chosen by the ELMU foundation. The remaining 22 apartments are earmarked for other performing artists, and they are administered by the Y‑Foundation’s company M2‑Kodit, which also chooses the tenants to these apartments. The demand is great.

“We received about 250 applications for the M2‑Kodit rental apartments”, says Kari Komu, CFO at the Y‑Foundation.

Based on the experiences of the Jallukka building in Helsinki, Jallukka Tampere will also have soundproof band rehearsal spaces and other shared facilities, such as club rooms and saunas. Each apartment has its own storeroom, but residents can also rent out storage spaces for their instruments. Although these special facilities bring extra costs, they are considered important.

“Performing artists appreciate having a studio outside their home, but one that they can access by elevator, for example in their slippers. This is why we wanted to include rehearsal spaces in the building, although we had to cover the costs ourselves”, explain Kampman and Tynkkynen.

The apartments themselves are regular rental apartments and fairly small in size. Sleeping lofts provide extra space in top-floor apartments, which are particularly sought after among artists with families.

Strategy dictates choices

The Y‑Foundation’s strategy is connected to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The foundation’s three spearhead objectives are the eradication of homelessness, the economic and social well-being of tenants, and a fair transition towards carbon neutral living. The Y‑Foundation seeks to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035.

“Our strategy states that in new construction, we build energy class A residential properties that are implemented with a high level of material efficiency”, Kampman says.

Jallukka Tampere also represents energy efficiency class A, and it has been financed with MuniFin’s green finance.

“Green finance offers us an interest benefit of a few basis points. This difference may not seem significant at an annual level, but over long loan periods, green finance actually saves us hundreds of thousands”, explains Komu.

Savings are also achieved through AI-controlled heat regulation, which anticipates peaks in heating and keeps indoor air in the apartments at an optimal level.

“The apartments have sensors for monitoring temperature and other indoor air conditions. Based on the data, AI finds the most energy-efficient solution to heating. Thanks to this smart solution, we have already been able to bring our annual heating costs down by 5–10% in our other buildings”, Komu says.

The Y‑Foundation owns more than 17,300 rental apartments in over 50 cities across Finland, so this reduction translates to significant savings.

The Y‑Foundation is also committed to improving the energy efficiency of its existing properties by making renovations and upgrades focused on energy consumption and by increasing the use of renewable energy in heating.

“In the future, we will focus heavily on recycling construction materials. Our goal is to increase the recovery rate of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste”, explains Kampman.

The Y‑Foundation’s sustainable ideology is also seen in how the foundation encourages its tenants to adopt low carbon means of transport. Jallukka Tampere does not have parking spaces for all tenants, but residents have access to a communal car or van that they can hire. The building also has a designated room for servicing and maintaining bicycles, just like Jallukka Helsinki does.

“We are offering residents carsharing in Jallukka Tampere for the first time, but we will offer this option in our other new properties in the future”, promises Kampman.

Meeting places wanted

Jallukka Helsinki has received praise for the restaurant and bar that operates on the bottom floor of the building and offers residents an easy place to meet. In Jallukka Tampere, a spacious club room on the first floor will serve as a convenient meeting place.

“People value a sense of community. The residents of Jallukka Helsinki have organised barbeques together and also with other residents in the quarter. However, the building also offers peace and quiet for those that prefer it”, says Tynkkynen.

Inspired by the Jallukka buildings, the Y‑Foundation will start to include lobbies and club rooms in its other new buildings as well. According to Kampman, the use of shared sauna facilities is on the decrease, as the hopes and wants of residents are shifting.

“Our role is to offer facilities for communal activities. We are also planning to include completely novel and innovative shared spaces in our buildings, such as remote work facilities and a small apartment that residents can book for their short-term visitors.”

What about the ELMU foundation’s plans: will there be more Jallukka buildings?

“The demand seems great, especially in the Helsinki region. We are a small foundation with limited resources, so we’ll take one Jallukka at a time”, muses Tynkkynen.

Written by Hannele Borra

The most powerful wastewater treatment plant in the Nordic countries built partly on MuniFin’s green finance

Built by the Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority HSY, the Blominmäki wastewater treatment plant will replace the current Suomenoja treatment plant from 1963, whose operational limits will soon be reached.

The Suomenoja plant processes the wastewater from Espoo, Kauniainen, Kirkkonummi, Siuntio and Western Vantaa, where population is expected to increase significantly in the coming decades. The adoption of the Blominmäki plant will reduce the nutrient load per capita on the Baltic Sea from the current load.

“Our goal is to remove more than 98% of the phosphorus and more than 90% of the nitrogen from the wastewater. The new plant will also improve wastewater treatment reliability and capacity: the Blominmäki plant will be able to process the wastewater of more than half a million people”, says Tommi Fred, director of support services and water supply at HSY.

The treatment goals set for the Blominmäki plant are clearly stricter than the EU requirements and the recommendations of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission HELCOM.

Modern plant blends in with the surroundings and generates its own energy

The Blominmäki plant will be built deep inside bedrock. This solution is sensible both for the environment and the plant’s operations.

“This way, the basins and machines will be safe from pests and our trying weather conditions. The land area on top of the caves will remain mostly unchanged, allowing its continued use as a recreational area. The routes used by flying squirrels and other animals were mapped and taken into account at the initial planning stages: we wanted to keep the green corridors as wide as possible”, says Fred.

Wastewater treatment plants are notorious for their stench, but the Blominmäki plant has found a way to eliminate this problem: a chimney will lead the plant’s exhaust air so high up in the sky that the odour will not be of bother to local residents.

The treatment plant will also achieve almost full energy independence: it will generate more than half of its electricity needs and exceed its heating energy needs.

“From the perspective of circular economy, the Blominmäki plant excels at everything! We can even store excess heat energy to use when the weather gets freezing. No other wastewater treatment plant employs similar technology”, Fred says.

At the Blominmäki plant, every detail is carefully considered. Because the plant is built deep inside bedrock, the land area on top of the caves will remain almost unchanged.

Environmentally friendly work attracts investors

From the environmental perspective, the Blominmäki plant has a crystal-clear main goal: protecting the Baltic Sea. 

Thanks to the plant’s ambitious treatment goals, the project was eligible for a wider-than-usual range of funding options. By acknowledging environmental considerations at all stages of the planning process, the Blominmäki plant qualified for MuniFin’s green finance and the Nordic Investment Bank’s loan.

The largest ever investment in the history of HSY has also been funded by the European Investment Bank. 

“Positive developments do not come about spontaneously; they require action. Because the Blominmäki plant processes wastewater sustainably and promotes a cleaner Baltic Sea, it is a long-term investment in a brighter future. It is not often you get to carry out a project of this scale”, says Pekka Hänninen, finance director at HSY. 

Wastewater treatment has advanced in leaps and bounds in the past thirty years. In Finland, treatment plants have already completed the most important improvements, bringing their treatment power to almost 100%. But according to Hänninen, the work is not yet complete.

“By setting an example, Finland has had a massive impact on the operations of other Baltic Sea states. We believe that Blominmäki’s innovative solutions will also be of interest to our colleagues in other countries. For example, there aren’t really any treatment plants built in bedrock outside the Nordic countries. In the end, the entire world will benefit from any effort we put in clean water. Water unites us all.”

The Blominmäki wastewater treatment plant is a state-of-the-art project that will set an example to others in the field.

Written by Sanna Puutonen
Photos by HSY

The world’s first zero-energy ice hockey arena built in Äänekoski

The first puck dropped in the new hockey arena on 28 August. The opening practice match between JYP and Pelicans was sold out in a couple of hours.

“The construction was completed in the planned schedule, and the opening was a success despite the coronavirus situation. The top league match also put the quality of ice to a real test right away”, says Antti Virmanen, CEO at Proavera Ltd.

The Suolahti arena is an eagerly anticipated investment in Äänekoski’s sports scene. The arena replaces a decades-old tarpaulin hall and brings high-quality sports facilities within reach of everyone. The arena in itself is not an unusual structure, as Finns are used to having a hockey venue in every town. Its design, construction and operation are exceptional, however, earning it the nickname of “zero-energy hall”.

“The arena is actually a provider rather than just a consumer of energy. An indoor ice rink is basically a massive refrigerator, which takes an enormous amount of energy to keep cold. But in doing so, it also creates condensing heat similarly to regular fridges. Usually this heat is simply expelled outside, but we store it and make use of it instead”, Virmanen explains.

The idea is as straightforward as it sounds. All of the required technology already existed, although the arena can be described as a pioneering project. “Green” is still not the default standard in new construction projects. The decisive part of the progress made in Äänekoski was a shift in thinking.

”We decided to do things differently. The investment had to be made anyway, so why not make it in a sustainable way? If we look at the obvious solutions critically, and look for ways to improve them, I think that puts us in the right track”, Virmanen notes.

Income from selling energy

Energy efficiency as a cornerstone of the project may initially sound expensive. An indoor ice rink is a large undertaking for any Finnish municipality even without the new design and construction methods. Virmanen admits that the initial investment was larger compared to a “regular” hall, but only by a relatively small amount – and the finances should be considered far beyond the initial costs.

For a large, long-term project like this, the overall energy economy and operating costs are more significant than the initial design and construction costs. The Suolahti arena creates enough energy for all its own thermal needs with excess to share with others.

”We have aimed to control our energy balance and run the venue with minimal operational economy. We are therefore more than self-sufficient: not just using but also selling our energy. Our waste heat turns into usable heat for the nearby school and swimming hall”, Virmanen says.

Green financing

The project is financed by a green loan from MuniFin. Green loans can be sought for projects that create substantial and measurable benefits for the environment. The Suolahti arena uses less than half of the energy required for other similar halls. Attention has been given to details as well: the ice resurfacers are electricity-powered, electricity is bought only from renewable sources, and the refrigerant used is carbon dioxide, which is more friendly for the environment than other options. The project has already gone a long way, but new ideas keep appearing in Virmanen’s planner.

”Projects like this require attention to both small and large details. Our next goal is to increase our degree of self-sufficiency. We’ll reduce the amount of purchased electricity by installing solar panels on the roof of the arena”, Virmanen envisions.

The Suolahti Arena measures everything possible. Approximately 1,500 measuring points produce data on things like heat and energy production and transmission. Incoming energy is also measured in many ways so that it can be monitored in the long term.

More ice rinks following the example

The Suolahti Arena is the first concrete example of a green ice rink in Finland, and as far as we know, the first one in the world, too. But Äänekoski is by no means the only municipality thinking about energy-efficient ice rinks. Green projects are rapidly gaining popularity.

“I have a feeling that green energy will soon be used all over the country. Almost every time I’m on a hockey trip someone tugs at my sleeve and asks for advice, and I think that’s a great thing. I tell everyone to feel free to copy this design, and improve on it too”, Virmanen notes happily.

Text: Heidi Penttinen
Photo: Jiri Halttunen / JYP

Side by side with Lapland’s nature – Ivalo’s new education centre is MuniFin’s northernmost green finance project

A modern new education centre is being built amid the rugged northern landscape along the Ivalo River. It will cover about 9,000 square metres and provide premises for a total of 500 pupils all the way from pre-schoolers to upper secondary school students.

It will be the largest investment in the municipality’s history to be financed with MuniFin’s green finance. The first discussions about the new school were held in 2017. Construction was launched in late summer 2020, and the plan is to open the school gates to pupils in time for the start of the school year in August 2022.

“These kinds of projects are huge in scale – a lot of time is spent on design and planning. Nothing happens in the blink of an eye, even though we’ve been actively moving forward with the project all the time. Expectations are running high throughout the entire municipality,” says Inari’s Municipal Manager, Toni K. Laine.

The new centre is a firm investment in the future and an important step towards a more modern municipality with better services.

“It’s high time for municipalities to get their schools and other public premises into shape. The Municipality of Inari wants to lead by example. We have a clear programme for renewing our public buildings and this education centre constitutes a significant opening,” says Laine.

He reminds us that many Finnish municipalities were largely built in the 70s and 80s. The building stock is becoming irrevocably outdated.

“In some places, the buildings are even older than this. Something has to be done. However, local authorities also hope that the government will be more involved in funding service investments in the future, at least to some extent. There is definitely plenty to do and build in Finnish municipalities,” says Laine, sending his greetings to the decision-makers.

The signing ceremony for the new education centre. Pictured from left to right: Lehto Tilat Oy’s Sales and Project Development Director Juha Paananen, Regional Director Perttu Haapalahti, Inari’s Municipal Manager Toni K. Laine, and Director of Education Ilkka Korhonen. Smiling in the background over a remote connection are Lehto Group’s CEO Hannu Lehto and MuniFin’s Daniel Eriksson


Flood risk poses its own challenges

As in many other Finnish schools, Ivalo’s old school premises have had problems with indoor air. However, this is not the only reason for building the new education centre.

“Indoor air issues are often triggers that spark a rapid response, but there may be many other factors in the background. One significant factor was the introduction of the new national curriculum, whose pedagogical requirements could simply not be met in the old premises. The current school environment was designed for a completely different curriculum and era. It has fallen behind the times,” says Laine.

Laine says that, even at the project planning stage, there was already a prevailing consensus within the local authority that a new school was required and should be built. The only real discussion centred around the school’s location.

“Ivalo is a very difficult place to build in, as large areas are at risk of flooding. Although we do naturally already have flood protection in place, we must still carefully consider the location of new construction projects.”

The new school will be built on the site of the old elementary school, on the northern side of the river.

“We also wanted the school to be in harmony with the river,” says Laine.

Side by side with Lapland’s nature

Thanks to its energy efficiency, the building was approved for green finance by MuniFin and is currently the northernmost green finance project. Consolidating operations in modern premises will achieve clear cost benefits, while also guaranteeing safe, high-quality and, above all, healthy teaching premises for children and young people.

“Inari is aiming for the most ecological construction possible in all of its projects. Due to the cold winters, northern weather conditions naturally make ecological construction much more difficult to implement in practice than in the south,” says Laine.

Lapland’s stunning nature and unique landscapes have been the inspiration for the school’s designers.

“The brief for the architects was to create a style of architecture to suit Lapland in particular, by drawing on local nature and culture. Wood is highly visible as a structural element and glass is a similar element to water, keeping it in harmony with the nearby river.”

Wood and glass are highly visible elements in the new education centre. Lapland’s nature was the inspiration for its design.

As Inari is a multi-lingual municipality, working in small groups was a particular focus.

“In addition to excellent spaces for group work, the centre will also have a first-class auditorium that can also be used as a cinema, as well as a top-notch space for cultural shows and exhibitions. We’ll be getting a new, full-size sports hall and a central kitchen, which will be essential for the local authority’s service provision. Extra Lapland enchantment will be provided by a separate kota – a traditional Sami hut that will be used as both a learning and meeting place,” says Laine.

Laine says that Inari has long been on the winning side when it comes to migration. These investments in education will further increase the area’s appeal.

“The new centre will definitely give our image a big boost. We’ll have the opportunity to show people who are considering moving here that we want to provide safe and healthy premises for children and young people and that we’re strongly invested in pedagogical development and education through physical factors. Future generations will be educated in the new centre. A more important factor is hard to find,”says Laine.


MuniFin’s green bond and leasing are targeted at financing environmentally friendly investments. Customers can apply for green finance for both small and large scale investment projects that will bring clear and measurable pro-environmental effects.

To receive funding, projects must fall within the scope of one of these areas:
– renewable energy
– public transport
– sustainable construction
– water purification and wastewater treatment
– energy efficiency
– waste treatment
– environmental management and nature preservation

The terms and conditions for green finance are otherwise the same as for MuniFin’s other financing, except that green finance is more affordable for customers than an ordinary loan or leasing agreement.

Text: Pihla Hakala
Photos: Lehto Group (illustration), Municipality of Inari (signing ceremony)