This success story is part of a series published within the MAKING-CITY project. The series aims to showcase the experiences of key stakeholders within the project. In this story, we learn about Sivakka, a rental housing company, from CEO Raimo Hätälä. Photo by Photo by Harri Tarvainen.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
I am Raimo Hätälä, a 60-year-old resident of Oulu. I have been working as the CEO of Sivakka since 2012. I am also the Vice Chairman of the Board at KOVA. Finnish Affordable Housing Companies’ Federation – KOVA is a national umbrella association for non-profit rental and right of occupancy housing companies and foundations in Finland. I live with my wife in an old, detached house near the city center of Oulu. I have previously worked in the construction industry, and building is also one of my hobbies. During the winter, I actively engage in cross-country skiing as well.
WHAT IS SIVAKKA ABOUT?
Sivakka is a rental housing company owned by the city of Oulu. Sivakka provides affordable rental apartments in Oulu, Finland. Sivakka owns and rents out approximately 8,400 apartments.
WHEN AND HOW DID SIVAKKA FIRST BEGIN WORKING ON POSITIVE ENERGY DISTRICT PROJECTS?
Sivakka started working on Positive Energy District (PED) projects because we were invited by the city of Oulu in 2018. The city’s goal is to become carbon neutral by 2035, and the PED project aligns with that objective. We gladly accepted the invitation because we have been actively pursuing energy efficiency for over 15 years.
WHAT IS SIVAKKA’S INVOLVEMENT IN THE MAKING-CITY PROJECT?
Sivakka’s involvement in the MAKING-CITY project includes owning and constructing rental apartment buildings in the Kaukovainio area. These buildings incorporate new innovations to enable the area to develop towards being a Positive Energy District.
WHAT KIND OF BUILDINGS WERE BUILT IN MAKING-CITY? wHAT KIND OF FEATURES TO THEY HAVE THAT SET THEM APART FROM CONVENTIONAL BUILDINGS? WHAT WERE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES?
The buildings constructed in the MAKING-CITY project are structurally conventional apartment buildings. However, they have improved thermal performance compared to standard buildings. The employed building services technology (HVAC) is innovative, allowing for better utiliSation of “free” or waste energy. The result is an efficient hybrid model that is significantly more energy-efficient than conventional buildings. The advantage of these innovative technical solutions is that they both save the environment and reduce costs. During the project, a challenge was to find technical solutions that would ultimately create an energy-efficient hybrid model.
WHAT KIND OF BUILDINGS WERE RETROFITTED IN MAKING-CITY? WHAT KIND OF FEATURES DO THEY HAVE THAT SET THEM APART FROM CONVENTIONAL BUILDINGS? WHAT WERE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES?
The buildings retrofitted in the MAKING-CITY project were traditional apartment buildings that underwent innovative measures like new construction projects. The retrofitted old apartment buildings were transformed into significantly lower-emission structures using the same methods as in new construction. This allowed them to have features that set them apart from conventional buildings in terms of reduced environmental impact.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF LIVING IN THESE RETROFITTED OR NEW BUILDINGS? HAVE YOU RECEIVED ANY FEEDBACK FROM RESIDENTS?
The primary focus for residents is affordable housing, which is supported by these measures. By incorporating these sustainable solutions, residents can enjoy not only affordable housing but also a greener and more sustainable lifestyle. Sivakka also has a fully electric shared car available for residents. The car charging is done using renewable energy. This shared car not only promotes convenient transportation options but also contributes to the goal of achieving a carbon-neutral Oulu.
WHAT RECOMMENDATIONS WOULD YOU MAKE BASED ON YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A PART OF THE MAKING-CITY PROJECT?
Based on our experience as part of the MAKING-CITY project, we consider it a success. The technologies developed in the MAKING-CITY project that save the environment and money are available wherever district heating is used.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?
During the project, it became evident that the European Regional Development Fund supports the development and implementation of energy-efficient and low-carbon solutions. For Sivakka, this means more favourable financing for energy-efficient construction projects that contribute to the green transition.