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VTT takes the ecocampus to China


Public sector building stock has a 15–20% energy-efficiency potential

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is launching a project with the goal of taking Finnish know-how on the energy-efficiency of the built environment to China. VTT has built a network of eight universities in China, for which it will begin providing operating models developed on the Otaniemi ecocampus in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Based on the results from Otaniemi, public sector buildings have an average energy-saving potential of 15 to 20 per cent that can be utilised economically. In China, the number is likely to be even higher. The University of Tongji in Shanghai is the project's main partner.

"We see universities as gateways to the business in their vicinity,” says Janne Peltonen, Senior Scientist at VTT. "The University of Tongji is one of the pioneers of ecocampus thinking in China."

Peltonen is specialised in improving the energy-efficiency of old buildings and reducing their carbon footprint. Ten thousand data points have been installed at the Otaniemi ecocampus, and a new type of property remote management services is built over the mass of data generated by them. One of these services is Monitoring-Based Commissioning, MBCx.

There are several different kinds of remote management service in the market, but according to Peltonen, their development is still at an early stage.

”A vast amount of data is collected, but no-one really seems to know what to do with it. Remote management companies have the technical expertise but too little analysing capacity. They have no Business Intelligence services.”

Launched in June 2012, the Otaniemi ecocampus project has surveyed eight pilot properties with an average energy-saving potential of 15 per cent. Some of the savings can be achieved at no cost by merely adjusting the existing systems, such as the time control of ventilation. The rest can be achieved through investment with a short repayment period and high return.

Based on experience amassed at Otaniemi and other similar projects, Janne Peltonen believes that the average energy-saving potential in public sector buildings in Finland that can be realised economically is 15 to 20 per cent. In China, the potential is likely to be even higher.

"In Western countries, the building stock is renewed at a speed of just 1 to 1.5 per cent a year," Peltonen says. "So the impact of new construction is only marginal if you are talking about combating climate change. The potential lies in old buildings, and that's where we need to set our sights."