New Finnish model for energy renovation of old houses

Over half a million older detached houses require an energy renovation in the next five years.

Finland has more than 500,000 small detached houses constructed before 1980 that will require an energy renovation during the next five years. The renZERO project by Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has addressed the issue by developing a new energy renovation concept that is now ready for piloting.

The renZero model has been especially designed for the northern climate and the typical small houses built in the 1960s and 1970s. The research has aimed to find safe and cost-effective methods for updating the energy efficiency of old houses to almost zero-energy level. Partners in the RenZERO project include Paroc Group, Oilon Home, Ensto Enervent, Metsä Wood, Skaala, Arkkitehtuuritoimisto Kimmo Lylykangas and Insinööritoimisto Asko Keronen.

Pilot project underway

A pilot energy renovation project is currently underway on a wooden house in south-eastern Finland that was built in 1948 and is still almost in its original condition. The house’s wall, roof and plinth insulation will be improved and the ventilation, heating and energy systems of the house will be renewed with the latest energy-efficient technology. The energy consumption of the house will be reduced while increasing the use of renewable energy from geothermal heating and solar energy. The airtightness of the house will also be improved.

The residents of the house will continue to live at home throughout the energy renovation project, which is also designed to be easy, fast and safe from the perspective of the construction company. The façade of the house can be renovated based on the existing design or renewed completely.

Improved living comfort

The renovation will bring many benefits to the residents in terms of reduced energy consumption and improved living comfort, including better air quality, no drafts and better sound insulation. The value of the property may increase significantly after the completion of the energy renovation.

Work on the pilot house is expected to be completed by the end of this year. VTT will continue to monitor the building for one year.

Finnish cleantech expertise

Energy efficiency has traditionally been Finland’s key area of cleantech expertise. 59 % of Finnish cleantech companies work with energy efficiency solutions, and these account for more than a third of total industry turnover. Almost half of the companies also have operations in renewable energy production, transfer or distribution.

“Finnish cleantech expertise is in high demand internationally, and Finnish companies have been quick to utilize the market potential,” says Mari Pantsar-Kallio, Strategy Director for the Cleantech strategy program at the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy.
Cleantech was one of Finland’s fastest-growing business sectors in 2012. The combined turnover for the cleantech business was EUR 24.6 billion and annual growth 15 %, according to a survey by Cleantech Finland.

Sources: The renZERO project, Invest in Finland