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  • Writer's pictureVirve Juhola

Trimble’s new Finland offices aim at Excellent rating in BREEAM

Since early steps of the project, the design of Trimble’s new Finland offices and all of the business campus around them has strived to meet the requirements of the BREEAM sustainability certification system. The Oasis of Professionals complex aims at achieving the second highest Excellent rating in the BREEAM system.

“We first considered sustainability certification amongst the project team in the summer of 2017,” says team manager Karoliina Lietonen of Optiplan. “We scanned the requirements and discussed how to achieve the points needed. Our objectives were defined in more detail in the project planning group in the spring of 2018.”

Lietonen is an international assessor accredited by the BREEAM organization, as are Optiplan’s project manager for lifecycle services Riina Ahola and project engineer Marianna Hilakari, who both consulted the project team. BREEAM is an international scheme that provides independent third-party certification of the assessment of the sustainability performance of individual buildings throughout their lifecycles.

“BREEAM certification is a standard process included in our developments,” says project director Pirkka Pikkarainen of NCC Property Development. “Over the years, the requirements for our projects have leveled up, and at the moment, most of our projects aim to achieve the Excellent rating in BREEAM. With the Oasis of Professionals, we follow the same certification process as with other developments. The requirements are key in the planning and objective-setting phase of the project.”

“All the certification requirements apply to all of the building, not only to certain offices or facilities,” Lietonen explains. “They must be met all over the building in order to achieve the certification. Regarding Trimble’s offices in the making, we are constantly working on how to develop their work environment in accordance with these objectives. One important requirement is for daylight. During conceptual design, we addressed the placing of the windows and the colors of the surfaces in order to enable a sufficient amount of daylight in the innermost parts of the offices. The final adjustments to the calculations will be made by simulation in standard premises, by using the final materials, colors and reflectance coefficients as source data.”

Environmental certification steers choices beyond what is required by law

Many sustainability requirements have become established practices, but the certification process steers the developers’ choices beyond what is required by law.

“Sustainability certification directs our choices in many aspects,” Pikkarainen says. “Based on the requirements, we are able to apply a comprehensive selection of high quality, environmentally friendly solutions. Certification is a good incentive to address sustainable development extensively since the very beginning of the project.”

“The work for the certification starts early on during the purchase of land by investigating the lot’s properties,” Lietonen says. “One of the criteria to collect points is an ecologist’s visit to the lot.”

“The area of this campus, for example, was wasteland which was cleaned and thereby accrued our points for natural value. However, we had to fell trees on the lot, which reduced some of the points for natural value. We gain points for using sustainably grown, certified wood on site and for construction site safety, such as accessible footpaths. There are requirements for site communications and stakeholder engagement during the design phase, too. This social dimension is somewhat beyond building without certification intent.”

“We apply the international BREEAM requirements, which means the building will be assessed according to the same criteria as a building in India, for example. Finnish best practices are accepted providing they meet the minimum requirements. In Finland, we follow by law the European lighting and calculation standards and, for example, the M1 indoor air classification. It is a principle of BREEAM, however, to require a bit above the legislation,” Lietonen says.

So far there are no buildings in Finland rated at the highest BREEAM level, ‘Outstanding’. There are three Outstanding-rated buildings in the neighboring Sweden, but only a few around the world.

“Excellent-rated certification is the target level for all new construction set in NCC’s property development strategy,” Pikkarainen says. “Its key criteria include a central location regarding transportation and ecological use of land. All our projects are built in the best locations, also because we want to support the business of the future tenants. The Oasis of Professionals campus is being built in an excellent spot, an important transport node in the district of Leppävaara in Espoo.”

Final in-use inspection seals the BREEAM certification process

“Certification is implemented in two phases so that we first send the design-phase materials to the organization in England,” Lietonen explains. “Based on their assessment, we receive a temporary certificate. Building inspection is part of the final assessment, for which the designers update the materials and a local professional provides an assessment. In this respect BREEAM differs from the LEED system, for example. The certification becomes final after the building has been in use for a few months, and the assessment organization may request for information in between. The certification also requires that 90% of the premises in the building have been leased.”

“So far BREEAM does not set requirements for the geographical origin of any equipment or material. Local products are recommended in the procurement guideline, and transport mileage is being monitored, but for example regarding the wood used on the construction site, it is more important to use sustainably grown wood, the origin of which is known through wood certification,” Lietonen says.

“There will be solar panels on top of the building,” Pikkarainen notes, “and the parking facility will include about 30 charging points for electric cars. The BREEAM requirement is 3% of the parking capacity, but many developments, including this one, exceed that requirement in view of future needs. It is not a good idea to over-prepare, however, because charging technologies develop really fast and investments may therefore not last.”

The property deal for the business complex with insurance company Varma has been done, but in practice NCC will hand over ownership to Varma when the building is taken to use. All decisions and strategies regarding building development and use have been agreed upon with Varma. Trimble will become the anchor tenant of the property once it is completed in 2021.

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