Eco-efficient office building


The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) had for several years looked for possibilities for having its office premises and laboratories in the same place, rather than spread over three separate locations in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Since no suitable premises were available for this purpose in the metropolitan area, a building process was outlined in spring 2009 in collaboration with Senate Properties, an enterprise that provides property services to governmental organizations.

What would be the ways to promote innovations in energy-efficiency, ecological sustainability, and an amenable working environment in the design competition? Two major means were outlined: First the design team should have excellent competence to strive for the best solutions. Second, it should be given ambitious goals, though without excessive constriction to creativity. These two approaches are described below.

The design competition for 'SYNERGY-building',

The design competition for 'SYNERGY-building', new eco-efficient premises of Finnish Environment Institute, started 5 May 2010. The result was published 16 December 2010.

Senate Properties and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) organised a competition for the design of the Finnish Environment Institute’s office and laboratory building in the Viikki Science Park area. Public tender calls invited design teams to submit professional qualifications of teams with such a mix of competencies that would reassure design services for a highly eco-efficient building, i.e. competence not only in architecture but also energy efficiency and ecological sustainability. See contract notice and its appendix:

The following six design companies were selected to be invited to the competition through enrolment procedure based on the Finnish Public Procurement Act:

  • Arkkitehdit NRT Oy
  • Arkkitehtitiomisto JKMM Oy
  • Bucholz McEvoy Architects
  • Foster + Partners
  • Helin&Co

In the preparation of the competition program for the selected six design teams, the criteria were grouped  into four sets, i.e. environmental, architectural, functional and economic. No priorities between the criteria sets were presented. The following aspects were given as the environmental goals, to be used in the comparison of competition entries: fulfilling the criteria for 'almost zero-energy buildings', local production of renewable energy, minimizing the carbon footprint of the main structures of the building (a rough estimate was required), and other environmental objectives stressed by the designers themselves.

See especially chapter 3.3. in the competition programme:

The tool, that the competitors used for calculating the carbon footprint of the main structures of the building,was developed in the project. It can be downloaded from this web-site.

  • (Calculator)

The award

“Environmental targets inspired creative solutions”

The results of the competition for the new building of Finnish Environment Institute were published 16 December 2010. The Assessment Group unanimously declared the winner of the competition the entry “Apila”, whose authors were JKMM  Architects and ECADI (East China Architectural Design & Research Institute Co., Ltd). Other members of the design team included LOCI Maisema-arkkitehdit Ltd, Finnmap Consulting Ltd and Granlund Ltd.

- According to the minutes of the Competition Jury, a particular merit of the winning entry is the original architectonic expression that creates a new addition to the area’s urban structure and townscape that tells of its users and reflects environmental values. The timber construction’s facilities are grouped in narrow structural frames encircling covered, semi-heated interior courtyards that significantly decrease the surface area of the exterior skin and improve energy efficiency. The building’s dimensions are well suited to timber construction and provide excellent natural lighting conditions for workspaces. The presented technical solutions form an excellent overall entity. The entry had the lowest energy consumption, as well as the lowest carbon dioxide emissions over a 30-year period based on energy use and its main building materials, demonstrating that it is possible to obtain excellent energy performance in a largish building mass cost-effectively.

-The competition also proved that demanding norms do not limit creativity. The environmental targets inspired fresh innovations that create the prerequisites for a new kind of dynamic architecture reflecting our own times.

See more at:

More information

Ari Nissinen, leading research scientist, Finnish Environment Institute,

Published 2013-11-07 at 12:18, updated 2013-11-07 at 12:17