RYM Ltd: Inspiring and healthy indoor environment becomes an important element in competition

Office construction requires balancing in the choppy waters of alteration flexibility, energy efficiency, usability and comfort. RYM's Indoor Environment Program seeks solutions with which to improve the comfort and health of property occupants in an ecologically sustainable way. At the same time, improvements in productivity are brought about.

It is recognised that thermal comfort, acoustics and good quality of indoor air have clear effects on well-being and coping at work and, as a consequence, also on performance. These challenges are well known to planners, builders and architects, but the end result is often a compromise that does not necessarily satisfy all the users of the property.

RYM Ltd (Strategic centre for Science, Technology and Innovation, SHOK; Built environment innovations) decided to look beneath the surface of the problem.

In the Indoor Environment research program launched in 2011, companies and research institutions seek solutions for even more user-oriented spaces and their energy-efficient management, for revenue models that can be applied to good quality environment and for planning and implementation of inspiring and communal work environments. At the same time, the companies participating in the program look for new business in future indoor environments in which people will thrive and cope better.

Customised solutions according to the user

Halton, which provides ventilation and indoor air solutions, participates in the research program and is involved as the leading company with the User-Centric Indoor Environment (iEnv) work package.

According to Risto Kosonen, who is responsible for Halton's office solutions, users of spaces are now placed at the focus instead of technical solutions.

Instead of mere control of average conditions, this means, among other things, that the ventilation, temperature and lighting of the work area can be accurately adjusted in line with one's own preferences and needs.

According to Kosonen, solutions are already currently available, but in their utilisation one must balance between numerous variables, especially in Finland. Also, excellent intelligent building systems are often incorrectly used.

"Seasons also pose their own challenges. Moreover, Finland is number one country in organisational restructuring, and after each reorganisation of this kind also indoor environments change. At its worst, it might mean that just when a solution has been made functional it will be in some way changed with a restructuring of the organisation.

Zero energy level is a formidable challenge

Year 2020 will be the central driver for changes, and with it even tighter energy-efficiency requirements will come into force. The share of buildings of energy consumption is approximately 40 percent, which means that the potential for savings is significant.

"The zero energy level that the EU aims at is numerically achievable, but as far as healthy and efficient indoor environment is concerned, at least in Finland's climate it is really challenging. Moreover, the meters within the EU and in the Nordic countries are rather fragmentary. Milli-units and watts are easy to measure, but well-being must be evaluated with different kinds of instruments", Kosonen states.

For Halton, the RYM program has brought important strengthening for the industry's future perspectives. At the same time, it has provided important contacts and cooperation with research institutions, not only at home but also abroad.

"It is useful to keep in mind that this is, specifically, a research program. We collect neutral and diverse basic information on the basis of which we can advance. For this, a single company lacks resources", Kosonen adds.

The extensive Indoor Environment Program is funded by Tekes. The results are evaluated on the basis of scientific publications and especially on the basis of new business concepts created.

"With the help of novel cooperation, the program strengthens the already strong Finnish indoor environment expertise", Sampsa Nissinen from Tekes believes.

The results so far consist of about 150 scientific publications, 20 development projects and 4 EU-level projects. The results have received praise also through international evaluation.

In the program's four work packages, there are 25 important companies of the industry and the most important research institutions. The work packages implement projects that become networked, both within the packages and between them. The research program's whole budget is about 20 million euros.

Further information

Risto Kosonen
Director, Halton Technology Center
Tel. +358 (0)20 792 2390
risto.kosonen (at) halton.com

Sampsa Nissinen
Programme Manager, Tekes
Tel. +358 (0)2950 55687
sampsa.nissinen (at) tekes.fi

Author: Recommended Finland/Timo Sormunen

Sanna Nuutila

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