Vuosaari’s new upper secondary school will be the first project to follow Helsinki’s life cycle model.

From short-term economic optimisation towards long-term sustainability

Helsinki’s first business premises strategy will be presented to the City Board on 8 June. In the future, the City’s sizeable property holdings will be managed and maintained with sights on the long-term sustainability of buildings. This means that business premises must be planned and built to be long-lasting and able to serve various users.

The City has around 2,000 buildings under its ownership. They amount to a total of approximately two million square metres, and their replacement value is approximately eight billion euros. A significant financial challenge is the great repair debt of the premises owned by the City, approximately 1.3 billion euros.

“There is a great deal of talk in the public sector about the healthiness, safety and cost-efficient operation of premises. However, the steering mechanisms related to premises typically focus on monitoring euros in the short term. Now, we want to change the entire way of thinking in Helsinki,” says Mayor Jan Vapaavuori.

If the strategy is approved, the planning, implementation and maintenance of all business premises will be steered by long-term sustainability. Ensuring the long-term sustainability of buildings supports Helsinki’s climate goals as well. Long-term sustainability also means adaptability, serviceability, healthiness of the premises and economic efficiency. The goal is also to ensure that valuable buildings stay in use. The City will relinquish any premises that it does not need for its own operations, or the owning of which cannot be justified on any other strategic grounds.  

Towards sustainability and adaptability 

Building maintenance and implementation of the strategy will be ensured by creating building-specific long-term plans and examining the realisation of the set values in each building. Impacts on aspects such as the environment and costs will be examined for the entire lifecycle of the building. Construction is only one part of a property’s lifecycle. 

“In the future, buildings will not be constructed and renovated like tailor-made suits. The premises will be planned with easy adaptation in mind from the start. Premises created like this will serve various users as decades go by. Flexible premises are also better suited for residential use, which we also want to increase,” Vapaavuori comments. 

Ensuring long-term sustainability will produce numerous benefits. The premises will be suited for a multitude of purposes and can be adapted in accordance with changing requirements without major alteration work. When buildings stay in good condition, they are also healthy and safe for their users. The longer a building lasts, the better it is from the climate perspective as well. 

One of the seven top projects of the City Strategy 

The business premises strategy is based on the previously approved real estate programme and indoor air programme. Previously known as the Real Estate Strategy, the strategy is one of the seven top projects in the Helsinki City Strategy for 2017–2021. It is also connected to other strategic programmes, such as land policies, and it takes the objectives set in the Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035 programme into account.

The policies of the strategy will be implemented in phases so that they will be in use in all new projects from 2021, as well as all major renovation projects.

You can find more information on the strategy on the City Board’s agenda (in Finnish).

Foto: Verstas Arkkitehdit