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In Russia companies are not yet used to cooperating with research institutes. A long way from the communal kitchen In Russia, housing construction largely means construction of high-rise blocks of flats. Urbanisation is aggressive, and there is much room for improvement in living conditions. Communal kitchens are a thing of the past ­ now a wealthy middle class desires integrated home appliances and two parking spots outside the front door. Residential density in Russia is only around 20 square metres per person, or half the figure for Finland. But the country's carbon footprint is increased by the poor energy-efficiency of Russian homes. In Moscow, 250­300 kilowatt hours per square metre in energy is used for heating homes and washing water, whereas in Finland the energy-guzzling blocks of flats from the 1960s use around 200 kwh/m2 and ordinary new blocks of flats less than 100 kWh/m2. Over the long-term, Russia is aiming for 50 kWh/m2, but initially the aim in energy-efficient houses is for a moderate 25-per-cent saving. Finland has expertise both in building new houses and renovating old ones so that they consume less than 50 kWh/m2. Urban planning in St Petersburg In the midst of rapid economic growth, the St Petersburg region has now woken up to the challenges to the urban structure presented by ecological concerns. Since the beginning of this year, VTT has cooperated with St Petersburg's urban planning officials ­ the city's architecture committee ­ in planning new residential areas. In a project funded by Finland's Ministry for Foreign Affairs, an urban planning model for St Petersburg is under development that takes account of construction, living, and associated ecological aspects, all the way from the planning stage to the living stage. In addition, construction of and living in the area must be economical and the living environment must be pleasant. "Ecological considerations are still treated quite narrowly in Russia. When we began talking about ecological apartment block living, we were looked at with wonder. Many Russians be52 lieve that an ecological building must be made of wood," recounts VTT Senior Researcher Åsa Nystedt, who leads the project. In the Ekograd project, various solutions have been brought together on what was initially a very general base. First St Petersburg's urban planning and architecture committee was presented with an imaginary residential area in which the research group had chosen what they saw as the most ecological alternatives regarding, for example, housing locations, heating methods, traffic, waste disposal and building technology. The proposal included rough calculations as to the effects of different solutions on energy and water use, for example. After this the committee issued an opinion on which solutions it saw as viable and which ones it felt should be abandoned due, for example, to regulatory considerations. "According to the feedback we received, we can't use ground-source heat from rock, for example, because regulations apparently forbid drilling deeper than 30 metres into the ground," Nystedt says. A knowledge of legislation and construction regulations and the difficulty of gathering information about them bring their own challenges. Cultural customs come in play The St Petersburg eco-project has now progressed to designing three pilot areas. "Energy-efficiency has become the key factor," Nystedt says. Proposed solutions include passive and low-energy houses and residential area density, as well as public transport and light traffic solutions. The feasibility of solar energy is also under study. The key factor in saving energy is measuring consumption by individual dwelling, which our Russian partners also consider important. The Finns have instead run into problems over housing technology solutions. It pays to approach mechanised ventilation with caution, for example. The Russian parties have warned that residents are not used to payVTT IMPULSE

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