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Forum and Citycenter’s solar power plants produce clean electricity in the heart of the city

Citycenter was the first to get its own solar power plant and Forum was next. After this, more power plants are planned for some of other premises owned by Sponda and located in the city centre. ‘We want to harness all the rooftops in the city centre for a useful purpose,’ says Pirkko Airaksinen, Head of ESG at Sponda.

Almost half of the panels of the new solar power plant are already gleaming on the roof of the Forum shopping centre, located in the centre of Helsinki.

The target is unusual for the installers, who wear bright protective equipment while working – the construction is carried out right at the heart of the city block full of valuable buildings, in front of the gazes of thousands of the city’s residents.

‘It’s great to have the opportunity to construct a power plant at such a high-profile location. Due to the challenging conditions, the installation takes twice as long, so everything will be ready in two weeks rather than in a week,’ explains Sami, who is part of the installation team consisting of five workers.

Forum’s solar power plant is an exciting project for the installation team. The work is being carried out at the very centre of the city in front of the gazes of thousands of city residents. ‘There is no room for errors in this project’, laughs the installer Tuomas.

Other members of the team are also excited about the project taking place at the city centre.

Sponda is setting an example of how even the narrow places like this and the roofs that have a challenging shape can be utilised for solar power. Following the wishes expressed by Sponda, we use carefully selected solar panels that have been produced in Europe, because the customer wants to have 100 percent certainty with the transparency of the supply chain,’ explains Tuomas, who has worked as an installer for four years.

Challenging conditions require double the time from the installation team, so the power plant on Forum’s roof will be completed in two weeks instead of one. A total of 218 panels will be installed on the roof.

A shopping centre running on renewable energy

According to the shopping centre manager Mervi Jäntti observing the installation, the solar power plants are a significant project for Forum in many ways.

The most iconic shopping centre in Finland has been a pioneer in environmental and social sustainability, and they wanted to make bold choices with energy production as well.

Clean electricity is valued by the tenants as well as the consumers.

‘Due to the energy and climate crisis, solar power has become even more important than before, and clean electricity is valued by the tenants as well as the customers. Safety during the system life cycle is also important for us. The power plant cannot endanger the installers, users or the property in any way,’ Jäntti says.

According to the shopping centre manager Mervi Jäntti, the solar power plant is a significant part of Forum’s sustainability work. ‘We want to gather responsible operators under the same roof and offer them sustainably designed space and clean energy,’ Jäntti says. 

The shopping centre manager reminds that the financial gains that the major sustainability investments have started to produce for Sponda and its stakeholders are larger than was expected.

‘Due to the current energy development, the financial profitability of these projects is quickly becoming stronger,’ says Jäntti.

Decreased emissions and increased property value

According to Pirkko Airaksinen, the Head of ESG at Sponda, Forum and Citycenter’s solar power plants are part of Sponda’s larger energy self-sufficiency plan.

A power plant was built on the roof of the shopping centre Elo in 2020 and the Ratina shopping centre will get its own power plant in the coming years.

Following this, there are plans to build power plants on the roofs of other properties in the Helsinki city centre.

The plant’s energy production corresponds to the energy consumption of approximately 300,000 kilometers driven by an electric car.

The primary motivation is the desire to offer customers and other stakeholders clean and locally produced and energy – with the Forum power plant, Sponda ensures that all its own energy and that used by its customers is emission-free and renewable.

Rising in the middle of the cramped courtyards, Forum’s solar power plant is a challenge for both the designer and the installers.

“With solar power projects, the maintenance costs and carbon footprint of buildings can also be reduced, and the value of properties increased,” sums up Airaksinen.

Partnership with the most responsible operator

Solnet, a company that offers the smartest solar power solutions in the market, was selected to become Sponda’s partner based on the company’s technology, safety and transparent supply chain.

‘We are honoured to work with a company that has been at the top of the international sustainability assessments for ten years and that operates as a pioneer and an inspiration for the entire field with its large-scale sustainability work,’ says Peter Richter, a Sales Manager at Solnet. 

According to the Sales Manager Peter Richter, Sponda’s example proves that it is possible to utilise valuable properties in difficult locations to produce renewable energy. ‘The companies and consumers gain the opportunity to choose emission-free locations and shopping environments,’ Richter says.

According to the Sales Manager, Sponda’s role is highlighted due to the exceptionally high number of properties owned by the company. Sponda owns 11 properties that are over a hundred years old and located at the very centre of the city, in addition to various other properties with cultural historic value.

Energy policy with a long-term focus

  • Sponda wants to offer its customers spaces and shopping environments that are energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
  • The solar power plant projects are based on the company’s sustainability roadmap and its ambitious goals.
  • Forum’s solar power plant complements Sponda’s energy self-sufficiency and helps ensure that the energy used by the premises is emission-free and renewable.
  • In 2021, Sponda acquired a significant portion of the electricity production of the Lakiakangas wind farm, and as a result, 100% of the energy consumption of the company’s premises is produced using emission-free wind power.
  • The purpose of these projects is to advance national energy self-sufficiency and support the work for slowing down the climate change.
  • All five shopping centres owned by the company and almost all the premises located in the Helsinki city centre have environmental certificates and the remaining properties will be certified in the near future in connection with the development projects.
  • Forum and Citycenter have been carbon neutral in terms of energy consumption during use since March 2022.
  • The goal is to be fully carbon neutral in terms of in-use consumption by 2030.

Sponda ranked as global sector leader in the GRESB Real Estate Assessment in 2022 >>


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