Heated and cooled with geoenergy – Shopping centre Skanssi reflecting on the journey so far

Articles Large properties

For nearly three years now, Skanssi shopping center in Turku, Finland has used geoenergy in heating and cooling the premises of total 130,000 square meters. The solution is implemented and operated by Adven. Changing the energy source to geoenergy provides predictability of costs, which is essential to property investors. Skanssi has now been awarded the highest BREEAM rating of Outstanding as the first shopping center in Finland.

-In sustainability, we cannot afford to bury our head in the sand, says Maarit Hurme, Skanssi’s shopping center director and CBRE Finland’s Director, Retail Advisory.

Savings and predictability with geoenergy

Looking back on the implementation of the new energy source in 2018–2019, Maarit Hurme says it was straightforward thanks to good planning. Even now, geoenergy cannot be seen in the everyday life of the shopping center.

  • Geoenergy cannot be felt, seen, or smelled in our daily life, so everything is as it should be. However, we have achieved major improvements in our business. Since heating was an area that had one of the biggest climate impacts, changing to geoenergy has reduced our annual carbon dioxide emissions and brought financial savings as well. Geoenergy is a potential alternative for new buildings as well as existing properties, says Hurme.

In Skanssi, the carbon footprint of the property was significantly reduced as the geoenergy solution cut the shopping center’s carbon dioxide emissions by about 85%. The environment was also taken into consideration even in the construction phase of Skanssi. Starting to use geoenergy was a natural choice in its sustainability work.

CBRE Finland’s Head of Property Management Juhani Hiippavuori was involved in the process and says that for the property owner the deciding factor was predictability.

  • For property investors, particularly international ones it is essential to be able to predict the costs of this and next year, and geoenergy provides predictability. Naturally, the implementation needed to be possible in the first place; luckily the Skanssi plot had enough space, and the ground was suitable.

Everyone is talking of sustainability and the environment

CBRE Finland provides expert services to property owners, investors, and tenants. In Finland, on top of Skanssi the company manages several other shopping centers in the Helsinki area and in Hämeenlinna. Hurme and Hiippavuori advise those in the property business, and according to them, sustainability factors are not only discussed by property owners and investors but also by businesses and consumers.

– Each business has to consider how to produce energy and how much is consumed. For many tenants, it is important that the place of business supports their values and strategy. Sustainability also factors in differentiation and attractiveness. It is more and more important to consumers how the business or shopping centre deals with the environment. In sustainability, we need to take active role as property managers, says Hurme.

In shopping centers, environmental issues have been top-of-mind for longer, as solutions to cut energy consumption have been sought. The whole property sector is discussing the topic in Finland and elsewhere. Tighter regulation also drives the search for sustainable solutions and new technologies.

– Geoenergy is especially relevant in the Nordic countries, as our bedrock is suitable for using it. Sustainability is in the Finnish DNA, and we are pioneers in many ways, but there is groundbreaking work done in sustainability elsewhere, too. I believe that we will see more solutions like Skanssi as well as more combinations of different energy sources, says Hurme.

Skanssi gets the highest BREEAM certificate

Skanssi has three LEED certificates: one for its construction in 2010 and two – Gold and Platinum – during its operation from 2012 and 2017.

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is one of the most widely used environmental rating systems in Europe, and it is also well-known among investors. In 2022 Skanssi has been awarded the highest rating of Outstanding as the first shopping center in Finland.

– This certificate is now very sought-after. The rating is very demanding, and the long application process includes everything from the ground to societal issues. Our previous rating is from 2017 but then we did not use geoenergy yet, says Hurme.