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Finns still unfamiliar with zero energy buildings

From 2020 onward, all buildings built in the EU will be required to be nearly zero energy buildings. Only half of Finns are familiar with the idea.

Finns take a positive view of using renewable energy, but are unwilling to pay for it. In addition, they are relatively unfamiliar with its importance in building the future. These are some of the findings of a survey conducted by Aalto University, examining residents' awareness and impressions of matters such as new energy technologies and zero energy buildings.

"A clear majority took either a very positive, positive, or neutral view of new energy technologies. Still, only one in three felt that utilising them in connection with residential buildings was important, and a majority were not ready to pay extra for them. The concept of a zero energy building was unknown to no less than 46 per cent of respondents", is how Senior University Lecturer, Doctor of Science (Technology) Kari Alanne summarises the results of the report.

Panels on all buildings

The EU's energy efficiency directive requires member states to make sure that by 2020 all new buildings will be nearly zero energy buildings. The criteria for nearly zero energy buildings are only now being worked on in the member countries, but according to Alanne, their biggest difference compared with existing buildings is in their great energy efficiency in the maximisation of renewable energy. In practice this means integration of energy sources into all buildings.

"In single-family houses they are, in practice, solar panels. In groups of buildings, such as in our own Townhouse project, it is also possible to utilise larger production facilities powered by biomass", Alanne explains and admits that he was surprised at how little people are willing to pay for zero energy construction, and how poorly the idea is known.

"Perhaps these are issues that do not raise interest before the construction phase", he ponders.

Respondents saw lower running and maintenance costs as the most important motivation for the use of renewable energy.

Respondents saw lower running and maintenance costs as the most important motivation for the use of renewable energy. More than fighting climate change, factors that were considered included conservation of natural resources; aesthetic drawbacks from the use of renewable energy were viewed more positively than noise problems. Kari Alanne predicts that in the future renewable energy sources will increasingly blend into the buildings themselves.

"In principle, all of the surfaces of a building can be utilised for solar energy in the future. For instance, a solar panel can be painted on a wall and placed on the surface of a window, which reduces the heat load, when some of the radiation is converted into electricity."

The survey was conducted as an online panel in November-December 2014 in connection with the AEF Energy-efficient Townhouse research project of the Department of Energy Technology at Aalto University, and it comprised a total of 1358 interviews.

Further information:

Senior University Lecturer, Doctor of Science (Technology) Kari Alanne
Tel. +358 50 430 6837
[email protected]

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