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Otaniemi  research hotel a model for the energy-efficient city of the future: aiming at the Chinese market


VTT has built an energy consumption monitoring system for residents of the Otaniemi research hotel. VTT's experiences suggest that the visual presentation of realtime electricity, heating and water consumption figures to consumers reduces energy consumption by 5–10 percent. The project is aimed at wider local solutions for the reduction of greenhouse gases.

"In the research hotel, electricity consumption can now be monitored with a precision around ten times greater than in conventional monitoring. We have developed a user interface that analyses and visualises data for the building's residents and owners. Even the most accurate information is of little use if it is not visualised for users," says Janne Peltonen of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd.

From the 4,000 data points in the building, VTT's system collects hourly data on electricity, air-conditioning, heating and water consumption, as well as realtime electricity consumption information on the building and its 52 sets of offices. The system is based on the EU's open Fiware software tool, which is suitable for research institutes and a range of service providers. Via a cloud service, the application is scalable on a city-wide basis – its development has taken account of security and privacy requirements.

Otaniemi's research hotel, which was completed in 2012, is owned by the City of Espoo. According to Director of Business Development, Tuula Antola, the City of Espoo has been opening doors in the Chinese markets to Finnish companies via Espoo's twin city of Shanghai. At the end of 2014, a delegation to Shanghai led by Mayor Jukka Mäkelä included Finnish cleantech firms.

"Espoo's long-standing and close twin-city relationship with Shanghai offers excellent opportunities for continuing to champion Finnish cleantech exports to China's growing markets," says Tuula Antola, Director of Business Development at the City of Espoo.

From Otaniemi to China's Smart City market

The projects implemented in Otaniemi's research hotel by VTT, and earlier with Samsung across the entire district, are concepts which can be scaled up to city areas many times larger. In such cases, the environmental impacts also multiply. A total of 40% of energy produced is consumed within buildings; reducing such consumption by half would have a direct effect on greenhouse gas levels.

The project also serves the objective of taking Finnish technological competences to the world. Construction projects are currently under way in China which involve a search for national model solutions. Under the leadership of VTT, progress is being made with the Green Campus China projects. Aimed at internationalising Finnish companies, these projects are funded by

Tekes - the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation. VTT is also involved in the consortium put together by FAIC Invest which, through projects managed by FIAC, is taking Finnish energy-efficient design that takes account of green values, and Finland's Smart City competencies, to China's construction markets. VTT is also intensifying its collaboration with Chinese universities.

"In China, construction technology is still old-fashioned, involving huge energy waste. Even simple improvements would markedly reduce energy consumption and impact on greenhouse gas emissions," says Peltonen.

China's development projects represent an opportunity for Finnish companies. However, competition over the Chinese markets is tough. Finnish players are strong in Arctic technology, which is suitable for Beijing and areas further north.