OOPS office project is designed and built striving at BREEAM Excellent environmental rating

Buildings A and B at the OOPS office site are rising rapidly in the Leppävaara district of Espoo, greater Helsinki area. The OOPS Campus was designed from the early planning stages according to the sustainability requirements of the international environmental rating BREEAM Excellent.

BREEAM provides the guidelines for ecological design and build and for constructing socially and economically sustainable buildings with regard to their entire service life.

– NCC’s property development strategy sets the BREEAM Excellent certificate as the target level for all our new building projects. The important evaluation criteria include central location next to busy traffic routes and environmentally friendly use before construction. We aim to place all our projects at the best possible sites also to ensure that their location will optimally support the operations of the future users. OOPS, too, is built in an excellent place, at the major traffic hub of Leppävaara, Project Director Pirkka Pikkarainen of NCC Property Development says.

– Certification is a great nudge towards acquiring a comprehensive view of matters of sustainable development at the very earliest stages of the project. It allows us to make a large number of sustainable quality solutions in the project, Pikkarainen continues.

– The question of environmental rating was first raised at our project team meetings in the summer of 2017, Team Leader Karoliina Lietonen of Optiplan says. – This was when we started to consider the target points and how to reach them, and the targets were further revised in our design team during spring 2018.

Lietonen is a BREEAM-approved assessor as are Project Manager Riina Ahola and Project Engineer Marianna Hilakari representing Optiplan’s life cycle services who have served as consultants to the team.

Sustainable, healthy, safe and attractive office spaces

All of the requirements set by the rating apply to the entire building, not just some individual office or other spaces. The requirements must be fulfilled everywhere in the building in order to receive the certificate.

– The certification work starts already with the land acquisition when we investigate the site properties and conditions, Lietonen says.

– One of the point-awarding criteria is that the site is visited by an ecologist. For example, OOPS is located in a decontaminated wasteland owing to which we get additional points for ecological values. On the other hand, we had to chop down trees from the plot which reduces ecological points. We get some points for certified use of the timber and site safety, such as high accessibility of passageways. There are also points that cover site communications and stakeholder group co-operation during the design process. Such social dimension is maybe a bit more extensive than that applied when constructing without the target for certification.

– BREEAM does not currently set any requirements for the origin of the equipment or materials. Local suppliers are given priority in the procurement instruction, and the material haulage distances are being followed up, but it is more important that the timber to be used at the site was grown in a sustainable manner and that its origin is identified in the certificates, Lietonen says.

– The project also includes installation of solar panels, Pikkarainen says.

– And there will be about thirty charging stations for electric cars in the parking facilities. The certification criteria is three per cent of the parking spaces, but in many projects, as is the case with this one, the minimum requirement is somewhat exceeded to be on the safe side as the future use may vary. However, we do not want to exceed the requirements by too many spaces, since the charging technologies develop as we speak and the service life of investments may prove short for this reason.

According to Lietonen, one important subject area in the rating is the daylight requirement. – We have considered at the sketch drawing phase how the location of the windows and the colour conditioning of the surfaces can support the adequacy of daylight also in the inner parts of the building. The latest revisions to the target calculations are made based on a simulation carried out in the mock-up spaces when we have the final materials, actual colours and reflection factors already as the initial data.

Environmental rating supervises the choices beyond statutory requirements

The certification observes the international BREEAM indicators, which means that we use the same criteria as, for example, in India. The best practices acquired in Finland are accepted as per the rating when they permit achieving its minimum criteria. BREEAM operates by the principle of being slightly ahead of the legislation. Thereby we observe the European standards for lighting and calculation and M1 indoor air classification in Finland.

To date, not one building project was implemented with the award of the highest possible rating criteria Outstanding in Finland. There are three office projects and few smaller-size retail buildings implemented by the criteria of Outstanding in Sweden, but on the global scale their number is still quite low.