Still plenty of scope for saving water and energy in properties

Real estate accounts for about 40 per cent of Finland’s total energy consumption, which is why energy-saving measures have a major economic and environmental impact.

Electricity, heat and water consumption account for about 30–40 per cent of property management costs. The specific consumption rates of properties vary widely depending on several factors, such as the purpose for which the property is used, the year it was built, and the building technology. Another factor to consider is whether energy-efficiency measures or consumption monitoring have already been implemented for the building, and how systematic any such measures may have been. The most important task for real estate owners and property managers is to identify the current state of energy and water consumption to pinpoint savings opportunities.

“Simply comparing previous energy and water consumption levels for the property in question does not give a full picture. The best approach would be to compare the baseline consumption levels for the property to those of similar properties to identify what the optimal levels might be,” says Realia Management energy and environmental services director Mari Rajaniemi.

There are various ways of making substantial savings once the current state of energy and water consumption has been determined, for example with the aid of consumption monitoring and regulatory technology, and by responding rapidly to any deviations that are observed. For example, lowering the indoor temperature by one degree reduces energy consumption by up to five per cent.

“In doing the rounds of many different properties we have found that the water flow from taps is usually excessive. Reducing the flow by fitting more efficient shower heads and nozzles on taps brings an average saving of 15 per cent on water consumption. However, the amount that can be saved depends largely on the starting point. We investigate the energy-saving potential of the customer’s property and calculate the most economically profitable energy-saving potential for the investment, with payback times factored in,” Rajaniemi explains.

According to Rajaniemi, not only do improvements in energy efficiency reduce maintenance costs in housing companies, for example, but most such measures also increase the value of the property.

“Housing owners and tenants are increasingly aware of these issues, and investing in energy-efficient solutions is sure to increase the market attractiveness of the property in the future, especially if energy prices continue to rise.”