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Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund

Low2No: shaping the future of sustainable living

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Low2No: shaping the future of sustainable living

Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund

In the former container port area of Helsinki, Finland, a building block is slowly rising that will prototype innovative solutions for green developments worldwide. Named Airut (meaning “messenger” or “herald” in Finnish), the low-carbon emissions block hopes to broadcast its message to the world: that sustainable living can develop side-by-side with higher quality of living, and that the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) set for European buildings in 2020 is achievable now, and must become the way we build and live.

In collaboration with the engineering firm Arup, the architect studio Sauerbruch Hutton and Galley Eco Capital, Experientia is a key contributor of this mixed-use development block, which will house around 500 residents, together with small-carbon-footprint services.

3 things to know

  1. Airut is a low-carbon emissions block in Helsinki, Finland that aims to demonstrate the future of sustainable living. Upon completion, it will house around 500 residents, together with small-carbon-footprint services.

  2. As the Airut’s experience design lead, we created the companion Low2No service platform, based on a research-backed behavioral change framework.

  3. Airut and Low2No have already won two awards – the 2011 Italian national prize for innovation in services and an acknowledgement prize in the 2011 Holcim awards for sustainable construction.

As the experience design partner, Experientia's role has been to nudge the behavior of the people that will visit, live and work at Airut, in a lasting sustainable direction.

This nudge is being achieved through actively involving potential inhabitants in the development of their future environments, through the design of impactful, sophisticated and sustainable service offerings, and through the creation of behavioral change programmes.

These interventions will help to reduce energy demand and carbon emissions by enabling residents and workers to make better choices about their consumption while enjoying a very high quality of life. They are, in other words, “soft infrastructure” offerings that will complement the block’s “hard infrastructure” for energy and carbon management, including geothermal preheating and cooling, building integrated photovoltaics and a carbon neutral bio-heat product provided by the district heating network.

The construction of the block is underway, and is planned to open to inhabitants in 2016. From there, the sustainable ideals that govern its day-to-day life will act as a model and example for the rest of Helsinki, Finland and the world.

It has already won two awards – the 2011 Italian national prize for innovation in services (awarded to Experientia), and an acknowledgement prize in the prestigious 2011 Holcim awards for sustainable construction (awarded to the full design team).

Our specific deliverables have included a behavioral change framework, an award-winning service platform design, and a smart meter user interface design.

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