Solution: Smart residential area saves time and energy

Sustainable development is the core aim of the Smart Kalasatama project. One third of parking spaces will be reserved for electric cars
and a smart grid will save power. Photo: Helsingin kaupungin aineistopankki / Voima Graphics Oy.

Smart Kalasatama is developing into a Smart City district in Helsinki.

The word ‘smart’ gets a brand new meaning in the Kalasatama district in Helsinki. Designed as a test laboratory for intelligent solutions, the district is set to become resource-wise in all aspects of living and habitation, giving residents an extra hour every day to do other things than just moving from place to place or shopping for groceries. And when everyday life becomes practical and flexible and electric appliances are interconnected it will also mean greater energy efficiency.

Smart Kalasatama is a project run by the City of Helsinki that searches for new solutions for sustainable development, energy efficiency and waste re-use. By 2030, the district will offer housing for 20,000 residents and 8,000 jobs. There are currently 3,000 people living in the area already.

1) What is the energy challenge that Smart Kalasatama will solve, Project Manager Veera Mustonen?

“Kalasatama is a step towards more efficient and more conscious energy consumption. The district is the first testing site in Finland for smart energy systems, combining such things as one of the largest solar power plants in Finland, eco-efficient district heating and cooling, a smart remote-controlled transformer station, and a power grid for electric cars. The largest electricity storage facility in the Nordic countries will be launched in summer 2016 at the solar plant for storing renewable energy.”

2) How will it improve the quality of life?

“The goal is to give people living in the area one extra hour per day through the use of smart solutions. The manageability of everyday life will be improved by shareable electric cars, better possibilities for remote work, nearby services and home delivery for groceries. All solutions will save energy and also enable people to monitor their own energy consumption. You will be able to check remotely from the workplace if you forgot to switch off the stove, or you can turn the light in the entrance hall on for a moment even when you’re on holiday to warn off any intruders. Becoming more aware of one’s energy consumption helps people save money and have a better conscience.”

3) How will these solutions support sustainable development?

“All solutions in the district aim to save natural resources and prevent carbon emissions.

Smart Kalasatama is sustainable also socially. Residents are encouraged to participate in experiments and to develop new technologies. We want to develop and reinforce the community in the area by offering facilities that are suitable for all sorts of activities and encounters. One especially important aspect is to ensure flexible sharing of facilities. People are often afraid that their residential area would prove to be devoid of life. We want to make Kalasatama an urban district throbbing with life.”

Kalasatama_ilmakuva_Suomen ilmakuva
Kalasatama now (upper photo) and a vision of the finished district. Photos: Helsingin kaupungin aineistopankki / Suomen ilmakuva ja Voima Graphics Oy.
Kalasatama now (upper photo) and the vision for the district when finished.
Photos: Helsingin kaupungin aineistopankki / Suomen ilmakuva ja Voima Graphics Oy.


4) In your view, what will Smart Kalasatama be like in ten years’ time?

“I believe Kalasatama will have become a real urban laboratory that has in place many environmentally as well as socially sustainable urban services. The district will have about 10,000 inhabitants by that time. There will be significantly fewer cars than in other residential areas, and shared electric cars will be in active use. I believe that many new sharing economy services will be in use that will save energy: urban allotments, new digital applications for sharing transport and food and for facilitating social interaction.”

5) Have similar smart urban areas been established elsewhere in the world?

“Smart residential districts include Royal Seaport in Stockholm and the new Nordhavn in Copenhagen. Those two focus heavily on energy efficiency, whereas Kalasatama is about innovative services that will eventually also save energy.

Smart districts that emphasise social sustainability are a more or less Nordic phenomenon. Similar areas elsewhere usually focus on energy efficiency and technical solutions.”

Text: Laura Manas

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Find all the stories in the series under the category “Theme: Energy”.