Finland has had a strong environmental policy for several decades, and that includes construction of even the most everyday homes and buildings.
At first glance, a modern Finnish house or apartment building isn’t too different from any other home. It is when you look closer that you can see the environmental features. Good insulation is especially important in any Finnish building, since parts of the country reach temperatures of -30 °C during winter. Yet even the most remote homes are designed to keep in as much warmth as possible so that the heating doesn’t need to be cranked up to full for the entire winter. Almost all windows on Finnish homes have triple or even quadruple glazing, with large gaps between the panes to trap heat inside the building. Even traditional log buildings, still constructed using time-honored materials and methods, can withstand low temperatures.
Radiators are generally designed to only be operational during the cold months, gradually warming up during September and October when the temperature drops. Yet they are not the only method of keeping homes warm. Specialty stoves, such as those made of tulikivi (firestone), bricks naturally absorb and conserve the energy used when cooking or lighting a log fire and distribute it throughout the rest of the house. A two-hour fire can provide up to 24 hours of heat this way.
While most new buildings in Finland are constructed using concrete or mixed materials, even some modern homes are made from wood. This is because, as well as its insulating qualities and aesthetic value, wood is actually one of the most sustainable resources in Finland, where forests cover nearly 75% of the land. Forestry is a major industry in Finland that makes up a large part of the economy, but it is managed in such a way that the forest cover actually increases each year rather than decreases.
What is more, log houses absorb more carbon dioxide, meaning there are less greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere, and are more airtight than other buildings. Producing wood for use as building material is also incredibly eco-friendly, as the leftover materials are recycled for other purposes.
Traditional Finnish log cabins are trendy overseas due to their nostalgic look, which blends in perfectly with natural surroundings. But they are also attractive due to their eco-friendliness. Finnish timber and tulikivi stone are heavy and difficult to import, yet the investment practically pays for itself with the amount of money it saves in energy bills. With any luck, future homebuilders and architects will be impressed by these features and use them to create more eco-homes, which will go a long way towards saving the planet.
Architects: Avanto Architects Ltd / Ville Hara and Anu Puustinen
Photography: Anders Portman & Martin Sommerschield
Source: Jessica Wood