Elo’s office campus nurtures its occupants’ connection with nature – Financial sector’s concrete actions in the green transition

Elo Mutual Pension Insurance Company’s Director of Domestic Real Estate Investments Kati Kniivilä and Head of Projects Antti Pyötsiä in front of the office building’s spectacular living green wall, which reaches up to the seventh floor. The massive installation is irrigated with rainwater collected from the building’s roof. Photo: Teppo Kuittinen
  • The Swing House office campus, located in the Keilaniemi district in Espoo, nurtures its occupants with its natural elements.
  • The prime location of the building and its many services reduce the need to travel back and forth across town.
  • The biophilic design of the premises – the use of organic materials and greenery to create a connection to nature – increases workplace wellbeing.
  • This article is part of an article series showcasing Finance Finland member organisations’ concrete actions to promote the green transition.

Visitors to the new Swing House office campus are greeted by a spacious lobby with a multi-storey living green wall and a biophilic soundscape of water, wind and nature sounds designed specifically for the location. The experience is calming and restorative.

Owned by the mutual pension insurance company Elo, the Swing House is one manifestation of the Finnish financial sector’s green transition. The building is nature-positive in several ways, one of which is its prime location: the offices are located alongside the new Jokeri light rail line and the West Metro line.

“We want all our new real estate investments to be close to rail traffic stops and stations. We’ve mostly let go of buildings that are not easily accessible through public transport”, explains Antti Pyötsiä, head of projects at Elo.

Pyötsiä was also in charge of the development of Swing House. One of his favourite features is a ramp dedicated to bike commuters.

“This works much better than the usual solution of having cyclists come in through the car park ramp.”

The Swing House bike ramp is directly connected to the Espoo bike route network, which is maintained throughout the year, also in winter. The ramp’s convenient roll-up door provides easy access to a spacious bike park, which comes with tools that can be used for patching a flat tire or making other small repairs before heading home.

The building has well-equipped fitness and gym facilities as well. This reduces the need to travel to a separate location, which is always good for the environment. After work, workers only need to make a short trip to the gym downstairs for their exercise.

“Our customers also appreciate the benefits of having a cosy and high-quality café and restaurant right on site. They always have plenty of tasty lunch options available without even having to leave the building”, says Kati Kniivilä, director of domestic real estate investments at Elo.

Swing House has earned the highest possible level of WELL healthy building certification as one of only a handful of premises in Finland. The certificate is awarded based on how well the building enhances health and wellbeing. Projects are evaluated not only in terms of their structural and material features, but also in terms of less concrete, more end-user focused elements such as quality of nourishment and sound and light design.

The vibrant greenery and pleasant soundscape of the Swing House lobby are further complemented by lighting that imitates the circadian rhythm. In the morning, bright lighting helps workers meet the new day, and as the day goes on, the tone becomes gradually warmer and softer.

Even during the long Northern winter, it feels like summer inside.

Many ways of green transition

As a responsible pension insurer and investor, Elo pays consistent attention to the environmental impact of its real estate investments, which value close to €4 billion. The plans for the next few years already include ambitious new goals and measures.

“By next year, we will have reduced our buildings’ specific energy consumption by five per cent and their specific heat consumption by ten per cent compared to 2019”, says Kniivilä.

The goal is for all of Elo’s buildings to achieve full carbon neutrality by 2027 in terms of their energy consumption.

“We are gradually moving to green municipal district heating and are also increasing the on-site generation of energy”, Kniivilä continues.

Swing House is partially heated from geothermal sources.

“Our access to geothermal heating was limited due to the West Metro exclusion zone”, Pyötsiä explains.

Swing House applies a hybrid solution that is also used in many residential areas, where the individual plots are so small that only a limited number of geothermal wells can be drilled. By 2030, Elo’s objective is to have at least a third of its buildings utilise renewable energy from their own geothermal wells, air source heat pumps, solar panels or wind turbines.

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Pirita Ruokonen

Head of Public Affairs and Responsibility