26.11.2021 12:28:46 //
Soili Rajamäki
Soili Rajamäki

Saving the climate and money through optimising the energy use of passenger terminals

From the perspective of the climate, now is the final moment to roll up our sleeves and take action if we want results fast enough. The Port of Helsinki has launched several projects aiming for carbon-neutrality, and the project for more effective energy use in the terminal buildings is one of the most important projects that the Port itself can carry out.

Buildings have a major impact on the Port of Helsinki’s total energy consumption. The building stock is also old in parts, which adds to the challenge. Some of the technology used in the beautiful, traditional passenger terminals is outdated.

The basis of the Port of Helsinki’s real estate strategy is environmental responsibility. Still, economical sustainability is also an important driver for change, says Andereas Slotte and Joni Nyholm.

Even old buildings can be energy-efficient

“When old buildings are maintained in an optimal way, they can be healthy, safe, green and energy-efficient, too,” says Joni Nyholm, the real estate manager of the Port of Helsinki.

“This project has many different objectives: to decrease energy consumption in the terminals; increase the quantity of self-produced, renewable energy; save money and even improve passenger comfort,” he summarises.

Biggest changes in the oldest terminals

The energy efficiency project of passenger terminals will be started in 2021 with the newest terminal, West Terminal 2. Next year, the work will be continued at Katajanokka and Olympia Terminals, one terminal at a time. The project will be finished by the summer. 
The main partner selected for the project is EcoReal, an expert company in the fields of real estate and construction, which has specialised in making properties carbon-neutral.

“Passenger terminals are in heavy use and, at times, can contain a lot of people at the same time. The Katajanokka Terminal and Olympia Terminal are also older, partly protected properties, and implementing an energy renovation in such facilities is more challenging. It is, however, a very interesting challenge. We have prepared for possible surprises by reviewing the existing hardware stock in depth and by carrying out careful advance planning,” says the CEO of EcoReal Oy, Janne Rytkönen.

“West Terminal 2 is the terminal with the best energy efficiency with regard to its devices, for example. Nevertheless, the technology can still be optimised and used in more efficient ways. In older buildings, we often also renew the building services and devices. As an example, we will be installing a new solar power plant on Olympia Terminal’s roof,” Nyholm says. 

“We will also improve the effectiveness of district heat recovery, renew ventilation machinery and connect it to the building automation system. Replacing lights with more energy-efficient LED lamps will also continue.” 

Improved indoor conditions 

The most notable goal at West Terminal 2 is to readjust its ventilation system. 

“We will install new control dampers and carbon dioxide sensors, for example. The sensor measurements will help the building’s automation – the brains of the property – react to the occupancy rate. When there are plenty of people inside the terminal, the machines will be turned up high, but ventilation and, thus, energy consumption will then be reduced during quiet periods."  

“This technology is widely used in department stores, for example. The passengers will see these changes as concrete improvements in the quality and uniformity of indoor air.”

Economically sustainable environmental responsibility

The large emission reductions achieved in 2020 with the Port of Helsinki’s own carbon dioxide emissions are largely thanks to the transition to carbon-free electricity sources.

The basis of the Port of Helsinki’s real estate strategy is environmental responsibility. Still, economical sustainability is also an important driver for change, especially during this challenging era for travel. 

“We reviewed both our emission goals and cost savings in the long term and made careful calculations. We took into account the lifecycles of buildings and the savings gained through the changes,” says Andreas Slotte, the Port of Helsinki’s Head of sustainable development.

“All in all, the changes are worth carrying out, both in terms of our carbon footprint and money saved, and will pay themselves back relatively quickly. On average, the payback time is about five years.”

Annually, the savings run to hundreds of thousands of euros, and carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by about five hundred tonnes a year. 

“Even though the project will involve plenty of hard work and the buildings are old, this will generate money and conserve nature. As a trailblazer port of sustainable development, we will need to implement these changes, too, and they are worth it.”