• The future of architecture

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Sep 18, 2019
    We met up with Snøhetta’s Senior Architect Eli Synnevåg at the company’s head office in Oslo, Norway, to discuss what are the most relevant challenges facing architecture today and also tomorrow? And how does one of the leading architecture firms in the world drive organizational-level creativity?

    What are the biggest challenges facing architects today? How important is sustainability, utilising technology and cross-sector collaboration in modern-day architecture? Snøhetta’s Senior Architect Eli Synnevåg sheds light on how architects can stay relevant in this day and age.


     

  • The power of creativity

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Aug 20, 2019
    We met up with Snøhetta’s Senior Architect Eli Synnevåg at the company’s head office in Oslo, Norway, to discuss what are the most relevant challenges facing architecture today and also tomorrow? And how does one of the leading architecture firms in the world drive organizational-level creativity?

    What are the tools or methods Snøhetta uses to nourish creativity within the organisation?
    How important is an open conversation culture and having fun to the success of the company.
    Snøhetta’s Senior Architect Eli Synnevåg approaches the issues of better creativity with holistic view.

     

  • Together we can

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Jun 19, 2019
    We have had an interesting spring in Finland and also globally. On April parties were rallying for new cabinet members for Finnish parliament. Personally I have been interested in politics and also this year helped one friend in his campaign…and yes he got elected if this is relevant for bloq. Anyway many of the discussions which I went through with people in market squares were related to climate change and concerns about wellbeing of a future generation. I felt that people were frustrated and sceptic to find light at the end of the tunnel.

    I have thought about these discussions and reflected those to my work developing solutions together with developers and designers for buildings to be erected or to be renovated. There is plenty to do for more sustainable buildings as well as to great opportunity to find new business models. Here below some facts how big “thing” our industry is:

    - Migration from rural areas to cities raises globally,  by 2050 c. 75% world population will be urbanized*
    - Construction industry consumes almost half(c. 40%) of the energy used in EU**
    - 35% of the materials(by weight) used in the world are for construction industry**
    - Over the next 10 years, demand for global construction industry is expected to increase by 70%*** 

    These predictions call for action to find the win-win solution for our planet and for our industry.
    One inspirational and a book that everyone should read is “Building a circular future”, written by Kasper Guldager Jensen from 3XN architects and John Sommer from MT Hojgaard. What makes this book worth of reading?  It gives practical view how the things can be done sustainable and still make profit out of it. Incentive for all parties involved is the key to success. Without business benefit it will turn to obligatory “punishment” and eventually fails. How the brighter future is gained, is practically divided in three parts in this book.  

    1) Design for disassembly

    This part of the book concerns of circularity that can be illustrate by a box of Legos. So when you buy Legos, there’s an instructions how to build and what to build.  In future you can erect e.g. new office building from building blocks used in buildings to be demolished. You will find some main points which need to think before taking this step.
    a) Materials which can be reused?
    b) When designing, one need to keep in mind the entire lifetime-circle of the building
    c) Standardised, simple design that fits into a larger context e.g. modularised design
    d) Connections joints need to be planned for dismantling and re-usage
    e) Building need to be designed so that it also can be disassembled

    2) Material passport

    That document functions as a personal passport but it is made for construction materials. Passport consist a set of data describing characteristics of materials used in products, which give them value for recovery, recycling and re-use. This means that all materials of the building are having its own ID. This allows one to gather a “bank” of materials and set up “material google” for second hand markets. The idea is that developer would be enable to build e.g. Office building from building materials found from nearby buildings about to be demolished. Main principals here to be settled are:

    a) Good documentation to ensure the quality and value of materials and resources 
    b) Identification of the physical products need to be clear&simple&unified
    c) Maintenance is crucial to keep value and quality of materials in shape, in high level
    d) Provide clear safety procedures for construction, operating and especially for deconstruction phases
    e) Need to consider carefully ownership, possible stocking and ownership of materials in interim stage  

    3) Circular economy

    Circular economy aims to minimize waste and making the most of resources used and re-used. To be successful in circular economy, the book is pinpointing the seventh dimension that is still quite unknown for many industry players because; “the most advanced parts of the building industry today operated in six dimensions. The three traditional dimensions are height, length, and depth as well as three additional dimensions such as time, economy and operation. If the industry is to meet the challenges related to sustainable growth, these dimensions need to be supplemented with seventh dimension. This dimension is the recycling and reuse of building material without degrading them and thus maintaining or improving the value of the material”.

    Digitalization is one of the key tools for making this all possible BUT it is just a tool. The biggest challenge is to get all needed parties on board and change the way how industry operates together. For example “material google” is not working if you don’t have vast amount materials available there. This goes also to standardisation of building materials in governmental&global level etc. 

    So what we as a company have done related to sustainability and circular economy? In Ruukki we have started material ID system, BIM modelling, modular systems etc. We are also participating to research projects focusing reusability of building components. In group level (SSAB) we are have already significantly invested towards CO2 free steel. Today global steel industry accounts for between 7-9% of total global CO2 emissions****. Our innovation is getting CO2 free steel making process by replacing coal&coke with hydrogen. Also electricity used for making hydrogen will be produced emission free hydro power. We are already building a pilot factory in Sweden and it should be up and running before 2020…so it’s more than just parade speech, it is concrete to be proud of. 

    “Building a circular future means redesigning industry logic from building scale to business scale” –Kasper Guldager Jensen, Senior partner 3XN architects


    *= World’s footprint 2015 
    **= United Nations environment programme
    ***= PwC global construction 2025
    ****= World steel association, Sustainable steel - Indicators 2018 and industry initiatives, page 9  
  • Emerging trends in architecture

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Jun 13, 2019

    We met up with Snøhetta’s Senior Architect Eli Synnevåg at the company’s head office in Oslo, Norway, to discuss what are the most relevant challenges facing architecture today and also tomorrow? And how does one of the leading architecture firms in the world drive organizational-level creativity?

    What are the biggest and emerging trends in architecture? Is content replacing style as the driving force of design, and how are the issues of sustainability affecting the industry? Snøhetta’s Senior Architect Eli Synnevåg lays out her vision for architecture in the future.

     

     


     
  • Are low carbon building and sustainable building the same thing?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Apr 11, 2019

    As the energy efficiency of new buildings begins to be at a cost-optimized level in Europe, the focus is shifting towards CO2 emissions during the construction phase.

    The maths in calculating the carbon footprint of producing the building materials is basically straightforward: The carbon footprint equals the mass of building materials multiplied their CO2 emissions/kg. It is thus obvious that timber structures, with their light weight and lower emissions per kg will score a lower carbon footprint than other materials.

    However, in reality it is not that simple because carbon footprint calculations involve a large number of question marks related to system boundaries and different lifecycle scenarios. In carbon dioxide emissions, the time perspective is not very simple. Do we want to radically reduce CO2 emissions now and not think about how it will affect future emissions, or should we consider the development of emission reductions over a horizon of tens of years?

    Different materials have advantages over different lifecycles. The positive side of timber structures is that they work as carbon sinks in the building as long as the building is in use, but after demolition, the structures are usually used as energy waste, and the carbon dioxide bound in them is released back into the atmosphere. In addition, if logging and wood construction are now significantly increased, it will reduce the carbon sequestration capacity of forests, as a regenerated forest will only bind the same amount of carbon dioxide after decades.

    The steel production stage generates a lot of emissions, but once produced, steel circulates virtually forever and contributes to the reduction in future steel production emissions proportionately to the amount of recycled steel used. Steel structures can also be easily implemented so that they can be quickly dismantled and re-used in the future with little refurbishment. The final carbon footprint depends heavily on how different lifecycle phases are weighted. These priorities have not yet been defined and active debate on the subject is desirable when European countries develop their own regulations on carbon footprint reductions in buildings.

    Sustainable construction aims, of course, at more than just carbon footprint. If a cap on carbon footprint is defined for different building types as a separate measure, will this lead to a low carbon footprint at the expense of other sustainable construction indicators?

    In the German DGNB environmental certification, carbon footprint is only one element in the environmental quality of a building. Other criteria for a sustainable building include: the technical, economic, operational and process quality of the building. Some concrete measures from these criteria include, for example, building flexibility and adaptability, noise insulation, façade maintenance, and demolition or reusability of structures. Metals meets well many of those criteria and by their very nature are durable, low maintenance with minimal running costs, easy to identify and dismantle whilst retaining their market value and easily returned to the value chain.

    The calculation system in regulations must not be too complicated, but it’s clear that carbon footprint alone can’t define the sustainability level of buildings. Designers and the industry need to be given an opportunity to make innovative and sustainable solutions using all materials.

  • Architecture for ordinary people

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Dec 21, 2018

    If anyone thinks that architecture is only for construction professionals, they are wrong. I have a very good example from my home town of Košice, where I spend most my early years. Košice is the second biggest city in Slovakia and is located in the east part of the country.

    Pereš Park, a new shopping centre, opened at the beginning of 2018. This was the biggest construction project in Pereš village history and used the most advanced building construction technologies. Pereš Park shopping centre is now among the most modern contemporary constructions that meet all requirements and standards. Ruukki delivered a ventilated façade for this building.

    The building façade has already got lot of feedback, not only from the investor and the local municipality, but also from ordinary people – residents and the visitors. The appropriately chosen shape, materials, colours and details give the building character and personality, and good architecture is in harmony with and becomes an essential part of the surroundings. Ruukki, together with investor and building contractor K&C Group Košice, suggested the most suitable solutions and products, and delivered silver-colour sandwich panels with flat profiling and gold-colour Liberta elegant 500 rainscreen panels as façade claddings.

    Pereš Park is the biggest investment in the history of the village and offers also extensive and convenient civic amenities, all under one roof.

    Many obstacles before the finish-line

    The local authority office presented the idea for the shopping centre and how to realise it  back in 2008. Unfortunately, the old culture house and local authority office built in the 1970s didn’t meet the requirements of the local municipality, and due to technically out-of-date materials it would have been a financial disaster to renovate the building.

    After specifications for the building were completed, it was time to find an investor. That happened in 2011.

    Fortunately, K&C Group Košice, a receptive, open-minded and intelligent investor and building contractor, wanted to develop Košice, one of the most important historical European trade junctions. The new shopping centre was built on the site of the old office building that was decided to demolish in October 2013. The estimated construction time was only 12 months but it took almost 3 years to get permission to construct the building. 17 October 2016 was finally recorded in the city annals as the day that the cornerstone of the new building was laid, attended by distinguished city representatives, the investor and the media community.

    Once construction work got under way, the new three-storey building for Pereš Park was built in the village centre in almost a year and a day. Now the heart of the village beats and is alive again, and the new building brings a zone of culture, services and space for enjoyable moments for this village full of history.

    Did you know this about my hometown?

    The first written mention of Košice dates back to 1230. Visitors to the city can admire the beautiful architecture along the historical promenade. The 14th century gothic St. Elisabeth’s cathedral together with the streets, parks and courtyards of historical buildings in the city centre also contribute to the special atmosphere.

    Košice is also the hometown of several Ruukki Slovakia employees! And in addition to its long history as a trade junction, it’s also known worldwide for the Košice Peace Marathon which has been held each year since 1924 (it’s the oldest marathon in Europe and the second oldest in the world).

    You are also welcome to visit our beautiful and inspiring town! Read more about Košice and plan your visit at visitkosice.eu.

  • WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE OUTCOME OF THE BUILDING PROCESS?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Jun 15, 2018

    There are several stakeholders involved in the building process. It sometimes seems that during stressful debates concerning the budget, deadlines and delivery times, everyone involved tends to forget that they all have a common target; A well-planned and well-built building. This building will have all their names attached to it for around 50 years.

    Material suppliers need to remember that every project is special. The best solution for one project might be too high-level or not sufficient for another project. The best solutions should be found in cooperation with designers and owners at the beginning of the project.  Suppliers, as experts in their products, should never get tired of explaining all the bits and pieces to their partners.

    Contractors should bear in mind that their clients essentially need someone they can trust. Contractors are responsible for the solutions chosen. A project that has shortcomings does not release a contractor from responsibility. Those with experience should consult owners, keeping in mind the whole lifecycle of the building. Especially when dealing with investors who are building for their own use.

    Designers have the biggest impact on building design. Designers start from the scratch and should understand clients’ needs to meet their expectations. It is not possible to know it all, so it is good have curiosity and willingness to communicate and listen to experts from different fields.

    Owners should really think through their expectations and needs. Time invested in the design process helps to save a lot of resources during the building phase. When choosing solutions, it is a good idea to remember that some investments will benefit in the long term. For example energy efficiency and expected maintenance costs. Choosing partners wisely is important. It is not easy to change horses in midstream.

    It really is important to remember during the chaotic building process that everybody has the same goal. There will always be some mishaps, but cooperation helps a lot more than having conflicts.  The quality of the building process rests with all partners. It is vital to have open communication and trust in each other.

  • New generations don’t have boundaries

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Jun 15, 2018

    Couple of weeks ago I participated in the yearly event of Finnish architects* organized by Finnish association of architects (SAFA). This year’s event gathered more than 300 architects into Oulu. This event is the biggest architect event in Finland. During the event, we launched new product for our Liberta family (Liberta 550 vertical).

    After the official event program most of the crowd headed to cozy bar nearby. Discussions which I had there got me thinking. Common topic during the conversations was how to increase co-operation in the projects. Traditional culture in construction business is not supporting transparency and true co-operation with stakeholders involved. Architects, engineers, general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers all bring their own goals and cultures to the team, and self-interest dominates the building process. Collaboration is still a relatively new approach to project delivery, and its value is still being debated. Quite often it’s pushing to optimize individual profitability without taking care of the next steps. Roughly speaking, designers has been chosen by the criteria; who will make perfect plan with lowest hours, turnkey contractor has been selected by the speed and cheapest price, same goes for material suppliers. And if and when there will be need for changing the plans, conflict is right around the corner. Everybody is blaming each other and time and money is going down to toilet for settling the disputes. Subcontractors are seldom treated as equal partners in the process, and offensive contract clauses reduce trust between team members.

     

    Nowadays one solution to avoid this to happen is Alliance model. I think this is a good start but in a long run should also include material suppliers as well. I understand that there’s time constrains for co-operating actively with all players involved but currently subcontractors role is getting more important. Construction work has become so specialized that even a small subcontractor can make innovative contributions to a project using its particular expertise. When all team members have ownership of the outcome and are included in decision making, the resulting synergy can produce quality products more efficiently. Commitment to a common vision triggers creative solutions to problems that arise during construction. One good example for creating something new was when we together with project architect and installation company invented flat and hidden fix vertical flashing for one sandwich panel project. All of us brought our own expertise into the table and created solution which not only looked dazzling but was also easy to install**.

    Back to the bar discussions…I was amazed how open minded “youngish” generation really are.  Many of them had already interesting career paths. Some had worked for construction companies before starting architect duties and vice versa.  We just need to be open for other team member in the project and learn from each other. Personally I have couple designers to whom I calling once in a while when we are developing something new. Also there’s bunch of architects who are calling me when they are designing and want to hear if their idea is functional and cost effective. This work is resulting that many of their projects are in line with the given budget frame and designers vision will be realized and not changed.

    “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” -Henry Ford

    Anssi

    *= https://www.safa.fi/arkkitehtipaivat/
    **= Product is now named Ruukki Invisible

  • Simplifying building process by using one producer

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Apr 22, 2018

    Having had the opportunity to work with architects, I believe that selecting all façade components from one producer is always easier for an architect than using special, complicated solutions from many producers. By selecting one producer architects don’t need to take such big responsibility over so many things. It’s easier to select one company as a partner, and utilise all the experience and knowledge that they have. By using ready-made solutions in a project, the architect is able to avoid mistakes, and create better project documentation, and also improve the quality of the final building.

    In Ruukki we work together with the architect and the constructor during the project development phase. If needed, we also talk with the client or investor about the benefits and what is the best solution to fulfil their needs. If the architect and the investor have clear guidelines or solutions at the start of the process, it will help in project development phase, in building construction phase, and it will help in making the project budgeting phase.

    I’ve also experienced that architects like integrated system solution ideas, because a system solution is easier for a building process. Architects have more freedom for playing with their ideas, and they can concentrate on architecture. Investors are able to estimate correct costs of facade materials, and building users are able to contact one company that offers service if needed.

    Playing with dimensions in big scale

    Shopping mall “DAMME” with its 15 000 m2 area is the biggest mall in Riga city’s Imanta area in Latvia. The building is well located, and the main facade is on the Kurzemes street side, so the facade looks and solution are very important for them to attract clients. The architect’s idea to add more dimensions and shapes for such a long facade (~125 m) works, and mixed grey/red colour elements look modern and give a unique effect for the building. Free perforation and backlight attract attention, so this innovative solution is very good for a commercial type of building.

    Ruukki emotion is a ready-made complete facade solution, where all wall components are a system – wall construction (sandwich panels) + LED studs + perforated claddings (Liberta, Lamella, Design profiles). All LED power and control accessories are also included in system.

    A clear vision about a project, a ready-made solution and good construction quality are the foundation for improving public space. 

    I hope this project will inspire others architects to play with dimensions even more.

     
  • Introducing inspiring buildings to a young future talent

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Feb 16, 2018

    Nineteen degrees Celsius, partly sunny, was the weather conditions in the hometown of Mr. Ben Feicht (Austin, Texas) when he visited Oslo on the 25th of January. The reason of the visit was that he was awarded the first price of The Unbelievable Challenge; €1,000 cash prize and 10-week internship at Snøhetta, with his contribution “Unwrapped”. 

    The day started with an introduction to Snøhetta. During almost 2 hours he got a good introduction and insight in the work of Snøhetta, by Deputy managing Director, Senior Architect March Mr. Simon Ewings: “Snøhetta is a place that nobody is from, but anyone can go to. Snøhetta (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈsnøːˌhɛtɑ]) began as a collaborative architectural and landscape workshop, and has remained true to its trans-disciplinary way of thinking since its inception. Our work strives to enhance our sense of place, identity and relationship to others and the physical spaces we inhabit, whether feral or human-made. Museums, markets, reindeer observatories, landscapes and dollhouses get the same care and attention to purpose”.

    After the “Texas style” lunch, at a local burger restaurant, we headed out on a project and reference excursion in Oslo and its surroundings.

    UNIQUE BUILDINGS – UNIQUE ARCHITECTURE

    A14 at Bjørvika was designed by Niels Torp AS Arkitekter MNAL . I was proud to introduce to Ben that Ruukki had produced and delivered the aluminum cladding behind the curtain glass wall. 

    Ben_feicht_A14

    Next visit was to DnB headquarter at Barcode, Oslo – designed by MVRDV and DARK Arkitekter The steel structure and the piles were detailed designed, produced and installed by Ruukki. Read more about this building that was awarded the European Steel Design Awards in 2015 here.

    Ben_Feicht_DnB_Headquarter_Oslo2

    Statoil’s office in Oslo is one of the kind! This nine-storey architecturally unique building, designed by A-lab, was as amazing as in the pictures you have seen online. I was glad to introduce this building to Ben, where Ruukki designed, produced and installed steel structures.
    Read more about this building here

    Ben_Feicht_Stat_Oil_Norway3

    And one would not miss to take a stroll on the roof of Oslo Opera House when visiting Oslo! I wanted Ben to experience this, too. The building is designed by Snøhetta. To this beautiful building in the heart of Oslo Ruukki supplied retaining walls and steel piles. In addition we supplied the steel structure which we also made the detailed design of, produced and installed. Read more about our reference here

    Ben_Feicht_Osto_Opera_House

    LOOKING FORWARD TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ARCHITECTURE AND CULTURES

    The jury of the Unbelievable Challenge 2017 competition received inspiring and insightful entries from aspiring designers in 22 countries. Mr. Ben Feicht, showed unparalleled talent and vision in his creation, which provided a new solution on how to showcase the mall interiors through the building façade. 

    The jury summed up the performance: “The most crucial insight was to use mirrors that make the interior visible to the street and vice versa. This tied the mall to its surroundings, and made the shops inside a part of city life, attracting people to explore the inside of the building”.

    View concept boards and full description (.pdf)

    Mr. Ben Feicht is very much looking forward to start his internship at Snøhetta in August this year, and during that period of the year we can promise him that the weather temperature for sure will be closer to what he is used to in Austin, Texas.

    On behalf of Ruukki and our partners we wish him a warm welcome back to Oslo.
     

  • Meeting architects’ needs with new materials, more flexible products and custom solutions

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Dec 21, 2017

    For us quality customer service is discussing ideas with architects, finding right materials and right solutions and making sample pieces. If then the project is finally produced and installed, we feel we have been a part of creating something great.

    Sometimes this might take several years. For example the work with Estonian Film Museum started already in the beginning of 2015. And last delivery was made in the beginning of 2017. We advised architect how to achieve very classic and minimal look with Cor-Ten. Especially tricky was to find solution for Cor-Ten roof which is completely nontraditional. But now film museum is one of the most expressive public buildings opening this year. I’m sure it will become a landmark.

    In our work we noticed that the trend in metal facades has been showing signs that standard color portfolio does not satisfy all customers’ needs. As we love to get involved with architects’ projects from very early stages, we picked up this signal and decided to become more flexible than ever.

    Showroom helps architects to see and feel the materials

    This fall, there has been a lot of action in our facade factory in Pärnu, Estonia. Not only our workmen have been busy as bees, but there have also been many construction workers and furniture installers working. The reason behind this is that our facade factory working on opening their very own showroom.

    Besides our standard steel and Cor-Ten also all our new materials (stainless steel, copper, titanium zinc and many varieties of aluminum) have been tested out and best pieces will be showcased on the walls of the showroom. It will be a good place to meet our facade specialists and find answers to questions about metal facades.

    Special solutions for buildings

    In addition to new trends in materials, a lot of hours have also been invested into finding special solutions to architects’ ideas: triangles, three-dimensional pieces and special lamellas. Sometimes just a little change in standard products can give the new edge that is needed.

    And we are also trying out a new way of thinking – we can look at our raw material as a sheet of paper. We can fold it to try out new solutions and then see if our staff and machines are able to do the same. In the showroom hallway for example we have a triangular façade element that has a change of depth form one end to another. Before figuring out the layout in a program it was helpful to fold it and find the shortcomings beforehand.

    This showroom will become a home for all those new ideas and everybody is welcome to see the diversity that can be created with metal facades. We are happy to provide our expertise!

    Stay tuned for opening news! In the meanwhile, take a look at the new facade materials and our new reference case, the Estonian Film Museum.

     
  • What kind of sales person do you trust?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Dec 11, 2017

    What with time flying by so fast nowadays, information flow being so huge and changes being made immediately, choosing the best solution for yourself or your business has become one of the most difficult things we face. And we’re not just talking about construction field, but in general. 

    When we’re buying a cheap, small, everyday thing, we really don’t care too much. But what about when it’s not cheap? How do you choose when you’re buying a new house, or a piece of land for your new investment?

    Personally, when I buy something worth a lot of money, the first thing I do is try to find a contact person. Trying to navigate the confusing structures of a large corporation might be hard work, but it is certainly mission possible. I hate answering machines, and calling and listening to a recorded voice for a few minutes before ultimately hearing that nobody is available at the moment. Or those request forms on websites where you write your question with an expectation of getting an answer someday. 
     

    How to be credible, demonstrate expertise and build trust at every step of the sales process?

     
    Isn’t it so that the more technology surrounds us, the more we like to find a human being on the other end of the line to take care of our problems; someone we can trust?

    But how can you build trust with a sales person?

    Gah! They all are the same… some would say. Sales people have to understand the business and the market, but the issue of trust will always be the most important, especially in terms of long-term prospects. Trust MUST be earned.

    To build trust, a sales person must:
    • be themselves, not pretend to be someone else
    • demonstrate expertise
    • be attentive and a good listener
    • understand the business
    • understand the market
    • keep promises
    • pick up the phone
    • demonstrate credibility
    • deliver quality goods
    • deliver goods on time
    • solve problems, not create them
    • prove that everything has been taking care of, or will be.

    So to build trust, just remember to follow the list above.  Sounds easy, right?
    Because just once you have lost trust, there’s no way of getting it back. That should be a sales person’s motto. 
     
  • First get the basics in order – together

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Nov 01, 2017

    For buildings that means creating environments that are serve their purpose, promote wellbeing and are generally pleasant. That’s what this is all about. We should be able to take these qualities for granted as we develop our cities and indoor environments further. It is sad to see this basic issue turning into an eluding goal because of moisture problems.

    When it comes to moisture problems there are quite a few players involved, just as in many issues in construction. That leads to many of us quitting before even starting solving the problems. And when the problems are addressed, it’s typical to start with internal improvements just to find out that it’s not enough. You are the faced with two options: again, you can give up and start shifting blame. Or you can think of what you can do to help the other players perform better in moisture control. We decided to try the latter approach with our new Ruukki Rain Protect membrane.

    One of our most important products is sandwich panels with mineral wool core and steel sheet faces. In a finished building the steel sheets provide excellent moisture protection toward both interior and exterior. The compactness of the products makes it easy to protect against weather during construction site storage. However, unfortunately the upper joint has to be separately protected during installation which has been an arduous task. It is vital to preserving the dry-chain since the wool in the uppermost face of the panel would otherwise be completely bare sometimes long periods. It would be exposed to weather until covered with the next layer of panels or other structures. From now on the panels can be ordered with a protective membrane attached to the upper joint so that the installers no longer have to worry about protecting the panels in an unfinished wall. Nor do the supervisors or main contractors have to worry if the exposed wool was covered in time when it starts raining. But first and foremost the developers and users know they will be receiving their building with dry wool inside the panel walls since the risk of neglecting rain protection during installation has been eliminated.

    This small improvement isn’t of course enough to prevent moisture problems in the entire site. But we are now trying our best to solve problems in our products dry chain for all parties involved, not just our part. I hope we will not be left alone with this, but that future practice will show that this approach will in fact advance our common cause, improving the quality of construction.

  • Why build just good enough, when you can build like “for yourself”

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Oct 10, 2017
    Is this enough for my building? Are those legislative requirements up to the standards that I require for my building? Building owners and users should be asking these questions.

    Any building should be built according to national legislation and local demands. It should ensure that the intended building is functional, efficient and safe. Or, at least it gives minimum demands to meet those criteria. One can discuss the level of those minimum criteria in each country, as we can see that some demands vary a lot between neighbouring countries. But, this is the topic I would leave up to governing bodies of the industry in each country.

    When people build their private houses there is a saying – build like for yourself – What does it mean?


    Usually it means paying really careful attention to all the details. Starting from the planning stage - carefully assessing the purpose of the building and the needs of its users so that it would be functional and convenient to use.

    This often is forgotten, there are examples of private houses that completely disrespect the lifestyle of its inhabitants, for example too small living rooms for a stay-at-home family, or missing utility rooms for an active outdoor family. Or concert halls, that have state-of-the-art acoustic qualities, but getting in and out and around the building is so complicated that stellar stage performance is quickly forgotten when wondering around how to get to the café or get your coat before you leave.

    Choosing quality building materials


    Another important topic is choosing the building materials.  Here, the typical compromise is price over performance. Here are countless examples – you can install simple doors that serve the purpose – they shelter you from the outside. In the same time you could chose doors that would have ergonomic handles, superior safety, and excellent sound insulation, and so on. Or you can choose sandwich panels for you hall that not just form a wall, but help to improve the inner climate, save energy and even look good!

    One important thing here to remember is that all buildings will be used for many years. Not only low building costs and decent quality during building commissioning is important, but also high quality performance for its users over the lifetime of the building.

    How to choose good builders and plan building schedule


    Next phase to question your choices is when choosing builders and building schedules. Far too often we see buildings built by lowest price tender winners who promise to complete the building in unrealistic, yet attractive terms. Lowest price winners are often inexperienced with the particular building type: they will not know the trade secrets and smallest details of building a hotel, or a power plant. During the building process it leads to compromises in quality of executed works, installed materials, chosen solutions etc.

    Careful evaluation of builder experience during the tender stage can help to choose experienced players that can deliver to the expectations. For building owners it is very attractive to agree on very fast building times as you could move into your new house more quickly, or your shop would start to generate income faster if you open it faster. But if construction times are too short, it often leads to chaos that again is compromising the quality. There is not enough time for builders to plan their works, execute them carefully.

    Quality construction for both public and commercial buildings


    So, the “building for yourself” type of approach can be applied not only in building your own house, but also building public and commercial building.

    Let’s examine a few examples and start with public buildings first. There are hundreds and hundreds of public buildings being built every year. And, hopefully, most of them are well planned and high quality buildings. But only few become landmarks. They are the ones that not only fit their purpose and serve well, but are admired by people, visited by thousands – buildings that you can find in TripAdvisor when considering what places to visit in the particular area. Most of them are historical buildings, but not exclusively. Even today, there are new buildings built that stand out from the crowd; that are built as legacy. As an example, Ruukki has had a privilege to be part of construction of European Solidarity center in Gdańsk, Poland, the new landmark of the city. 

    Commercial buildings most often are as much public as any public building. Also there, striving for exceptional architecture would be appreciated. Even though most often people choose to visit a certain shop because of its location, assortment, service and price level, some part of that decision-making is based also on the appearance of the building. Appearance that is welcoming, pleasant to look at, nice to come back to.  Other thing is how you feel inside the building. Subtle and harmonic interior materials and lighting, natural and well regulated indoor climate. Those are the small things that can be influenced by choosing to go the “build for yourself” way, and that makes the difference.

    Don’t just build good enough, make the difference and build like “for yourself”!


     
  • Old school customer service never fades away

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Sep 12, 2017

    What does good customer service mean to you? Is it a restaurant owner who warmly welcomes you to your favourite table? When a company accepts a return and gives you a full refund with no questions asked? Or is it being able to give a quick response to your matter in hand?

    Today we use sophisticated technologies to learn a great deal about our customers. We track what they like, what they buy, how regularly they buy and how often we meet them etc. Despite all this new loads of data and the insights it can deliver, in my opinion and experience customers still appreciate “old school customer service”.

    This summer we built ourselves an additional courtyard building for our summer house, and this project was a great example of old school service. The project included a couple of pain points: the cottage is located on an island without road connection, and the new building was designed by an architect so it was not from the standard catalogue.

    Finally we found a local log wood producer which was flexible, motivated and didn’t start to argue about having our own drawings. After receiving the delivery, we started logging, and after two days of struggling we found out that the logs had been sawed wrongly.

    We called the producer (and reached the right person right away), and she informed us that two guys would come within a couple of hours to check the situation. They arrived four hours after the call and checked the material and drawings and, without any complaints about non-professional logging blah blah…, admitted that an error had happened and proposed to us if they could assemble the rest of the building, free of charge. Our first reaction was “could you say that again?” This was true service to maintain customer satisfaction without starting to fill up claim documents and all the bureaucracy it could consist of.

    Superb but simple customer service all in all! We were connected with the right person, an action plan was made instantly, and the solution was managed properly and very quickly. There was total turnaround from angry disappointment to total commitment and trust. I have already told this story to many of my friends. Word of mouth marketing here could have ended up differently ;).

    I have discovered the same thing in my work: service acts that sound simple are really making a difference. Bringing samples by hand to an architect, calling back immediately when questions are asked, showing that you really care…

    Have many companies lost customer intimacy?

    Today’s customers want you to identify and offload service tasks that can be done better electronically than by hand. At these customer touchpoints, be sure to offer self-service as an option for your customers/stakeholders with for example apps, software, informative and inspiring websites… But! This can be a magnet for a huge mistake. Once you’ve saved resources by automating tasks and services, it’s tempting to pocket the savings and call it a day. But improving automated customer service is no excuse to offer lousy human-powered service. Instead, take the resources saved by digitalization and focus them on meaningful human interaction.

    The world is always changing and new possibilities will appear, but “old school customer service” will be the foundation to build on.

  • Experiences from building a showroom for architects and designers

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Aug 28, 2017

    Is showroom able to attract architects and designers? The answer is yes, but not an ordinary showroom. It has to be something different, not only a wall with product samples.

    Kaštanová design centre in Brno, Czech Republic meets all of the requirements for being much more than a common sample wall: the whole building is our showroom. Our Ruukki Forma with gold Liberta Elegant rainscreen panels was used for a part of the facade, and silver sandwich panels on the rest. This this is what architects and designers want: to see our products on a real building in a real time and size. They want not only to see them, but also to touch them, to knock on them. In Kastanova, architects and investors can not only see our facade solutions, but also meet with us and talk about their projects plans by a cup of delicious coffee and small snacks.

    On the second anniversary of Kaštanová design centre, a big event was arranged for the visitors, especially architects, designers, developers and investors, and for their leaseholders and clients. Almost 2 000 guests spent a nice evening with good food and music, and had a lot of fun in the relaxed atmosphere. Ultimately also architects, designers, developers and investors are only human beings who need to relax from hi-speed working pace. And even better when they can come with their workmate, spouse, or friend.

    More info about Kaštanová design centre: www.kastanova.cz, www.kastanova.cz/ruukki

     

  • Ruukki Cor-Ten steel in a student assignment

    by User Not Found | Jul 27, 2017

    During the spring, the second year students of the Aalto University Department of Architecture attended a course in architecture and engineering, accepting an assignment to design a living and working space for an artist. Although the house would never be built in reality, a group of Helsinki-based artists were chosen to play the client’s role. Conceptual design started by interviewing the client and their wishes.

    My own imaginary house was located on the Pietarinkuja street in the Eira district of Helsinki. The long, narrow plot provided plenty of inspiration, and I wanted to design a building that would largely integrate with the environment and provide functional spaces for both living and working.

    In addition to the architectural entity, the assignment requires attention to building materials and related structural solutions. Weatherproof Cor-Ten steel was a natural choice to use as the building material, enabling a sculptural and monolithic facade. Steel is easy to mold and bend, which enabled hiding the gutter on the slanting roof, for example, and excluding the eaves from the drawings. Since the lot is located near the seashore, I wanted to consider the sea winds that are hard on the facade in my design. I also felt that the rusty-red tone suits the colourful, plastered facades of the surrounding buildings.

    It was exciting to learn to know a building material new to me and how it behaves in a facade. My background study included scanning the various types and sizes Cor-Ten panels and the surfaces feasible to use in a facade. Flexible steel material allowed many alternative sheet layouts; the overall look is highly dependent on whether the sheets are laid out evenly or unevenly, whether they are perforated or not and so on.

    Another task was to build a 1:10 scale model of the facade. The objective was to experience the materials of the building and present its facade surface as realistically as possible. At first I considered presenting the steel with cardboard painted in rust color, but I decided that it would look too crude to imitate steel surface. As I didn’t know where to obtain Cor-Ten steel on a short notice for the scale model, I contacted Ruukki directly and asked if I could purchase just one square metre of the material. To my surprise they soon replied that Ruukki would be happy to cooperate on a student project and wants to donate the material that I needed. My square sheet of steel arrived in a couple of days, and I managed to pick it up a few days before my assignment was due.

    Ruukki-Cor-Ten-steel-in-a-student-assignment-4

    As I was finalising the scale model, I ran into something that taught me a lesson: the Cor-Ten colouring features. For some reason I had thought that the surface would be rusty already when delivered from the factory but this was not the case. The steel was stainless. I nearly panicked trying to figure out how to make the surface rusty on time before my submittal. The problem was solved quickly as the Ruukki office called me on Friday afternoon and gave me clear instructions on how to make the sheet rust quickly. I needed to wipe the protective oil off the surface with paper and then spray the sheet with slightly salty water. I did as instructed, and the surface turned rusty in just a few hours! As I was gluing the scale model parts together at the workshop, the piece of steel had time to develop rust on its surface. After spraying it again a couple of times I achieved a beautiful rust-red tone. Then all I had to do was to cut the sheet with metal cutters into correctly sized pieces and attach the pieces into to model.

    Ruukki-Cor-Ten-steel-in-a-student-assignment-6

    At the critique session, my scale model received plenty of positive feedback regarding acquiring genuine material and presenting the design intent in a very illustrative way. I am myself very happy with the result and agile cooperation with Ruukki during the project! I was graded full points 5/5 for my work. :)

    Elli Hirvonen
    Architectural student, Aalto University

    Read more about Cor-Ten
  • Has the construction industry broken its promise?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Jun 19, 2017

    Lately, when following the developments of the construction industry, it has been difficult to avoid hearing bad news. Serious deficiencies in quality have come up, some of the worst examples being mold problems and the durability of concrete. There are economic problems as well: Many major, traditionally executed projects exceed their budgets, apartments are chronically expensive in the Helsinki metropolitan area, and repair debts exceed property values in peripheral areas. And these headlines are being written when the industry has been doing well otherwise.

    The industry has not been able to highlight its successes, such as the fact that construction has been able to adapt production according to the economic situation, and handle technically consistent basic production that complies with the legislation at the time of construction, sometimes even on a tight schedule and under challenging conditions. The energy efficiency and technical quality level of properties driven by legislation, and the quality of work performances and the products used, has been increasing steadily in the long term, while safety on construction sites has also improved.

    However, the development of productivity is one step behind many other areas. In addition, users fail to appreciate the advantages of technical development; in fact, quite the opposite: Many consider them disadvantages. The construction industry is too crucial to society to fall behind. The production value of building construction in 2016 was 25.3 billion euros in Finland alone. If the industry does not instigate internal reform, its volume guarantees that it will be reformed from the outside. The same seems to apply to many other industries, such as taxis and television. Even though it’s a complex, regulated and localized industry, there is no shortage of newcomers. Apple and Google offer user interfaces for lighting and thermal management, among other things. Tesla offers renewable energy production and storage solutions for buildings of different sizes. In addition, there are countless major and minor newcomers that are happy with a limited role offering new models to the industry. There has been no sign yet of a similar challenge that taxi companies faced from Uber or terrestrial TV channels experienced from online streaming services. But this might be just a matter of time.

    New technology brings the brains to the building promoter and the user from the drawing board

    The industry is also going through changes on the inside. Operators who are willing and able to develop themselves have developed new tools that are often based on sophisticated technology for financial control and modeling. Ruukki offers features that affect the energy efficiency of large building exteriors, directly optimized to the client’s production requirements—also with a warranty. Construction company Fira ensures that plumbing repairs can be quick and pleasant. Designers are able to simulate functional and aesthetic user experiences with astounding accuracy. This means that, besides construction costs, a skilled building promoter can now also control long-term total costs from planning to demolition as necessary. Or they can ensure by measuring and using sensors that the building functions as it should.

    Developers are not always users. And few building users are simply residents or workers. Developers are not always users. And few building users are simply residents or workers—take, for example, stores or logistics centers. In construction projects, customers are often represented by parties with conflicting interests. This is unknown territory for traditional builders, so the value experienced by the end user will remain an unfamiliar, poorly defined factor.

    Why settle for less?

    Many customers don’t even check that they have got what they wanted, only that the outcome is at the current acceptable quality level. This industry uses complicated subcontracting chains, and the products and services needed are redefined between each link so that they enable effective competition. This means that the features are defined to exclude deviant quality factors. The common aim has been to show that the project has been carried out with as low costs as possible and that there have been no actual mistakes at any point. The building is as good or as bad as others. When operating in this traditional way, each operator can point out that they were not the ones behind the mistakes. Not even if the building fails to fulfill its purpose or is not functional.

    For experienced operators who are taking advantage of new opportunities, this situation sets a new challenge. It’s not enough that you just respond to quotes with the same old definitions; you also have to be able to sell. And this does not refer to a fictional outside view, location or area information, and a price tag without any reference to the level of quality or operating costs, as seems to be the case at the moment.

    The most interesting turn of events will probably be that, at least according to Ruukki’s experience, we are now able to build technically and functionally superior buildings for our customers compared to basic production, and even more affordably than when done in the traditional way.

    What will happen if the evolution of the construction industry escalates?

    Buildings have other value besides their usefulness. They are used as collateral and investments. They are usually assumed to hold their value well. What does the intense technical inequality that the rapid evolution of the construction industry brings mean for the valuation of properties? And what does it mean for the owners of buildings that are lacking in their usefulness?

    We have seen how urbanization has affected property values in outward-migration areas and how this in turn has hampered workforce mobility. In many cases, this phenomenon will certainly lead to difficult situations, as a significant share of assets may be tied to poorly realizable properties that have lost their value. Similar developments have not yet been seen in technical factors. Apartment prices don’t seem to be affected by the quality of ventilation or sound isolation, even though the standards are completely different between apartments built in the 1950s and those built in the 21st century. Then why should a developer assume that users will pay more if the roofs are acoustically superior? Or if any other features surpass the required quality level?

    The solution to the challenges of the industry can be found in the user. We at Ruukki can already see how well the aforementioned acoustically superior roofs have been received by their customers, many of whom are owners of private houses. Enlightened consumers investigate the benefits of the solutions available and then invest in the best one when they have the chance. This is not far from a situation where a better user experience that results from an above-average technical level in a building can be taken into account in rents and prices.

    Property values might indeed be a subjective, volatile factor that evolves according to users’ needs in the future, and not just dependent on location, the economic situation, and repair debts.

    Has this entire industry forgotten what it’s capable of?

    The construction industry might not have broken its promise, but because of the slow development of productivity and technology and insufficient communication, neither can we say that it has fulfilled its potential. This means that, at the moment, the industry offers lots of potential for operators who are able to not only produce added value but also sell it to building promoters and users. The ones who are able to describe and analyze how each customer’s priorities are affected are also able to stand out of the crowd.

    Luckily, the industry already has a few pioneers. Whether they are new operators or old veterans, they have already been able to take this challenge on, so many others will most probably be involved as well.

    As users, we will hopefully be charged with one pleasant task: Please remember to demand a little more.

  • Let daylight in

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | May 29, 2017

    We all know that we get energy and happiness from the sun and daylight. However, most of us have to work inside and then the only connection to the outdoors is through windows.

    Many research have shown that daylighting increases occupant productivity and comfort, and provides the mental and visual stimulation necessary to regulate human circadian rhythms. Some studies conducted in the USA also concluded that commercial real estate with no windows leases for about 20 percent less than spaces with windows. There are also studies where the presence of daylighting considerably increased the sales volume in a retail shop compared to a similar shop without daylighting.

    The importance of daylighting has been understood for a long time in offices and large shopping centres, but there are still a lot of working spaces especially in the industry and retail sectors without a natural connection to outdoors.

     

    Daylighting reduces need for artificial lighting

    Let-daylight-in-2

    Ruukki supplied large polycarbonate "daylighting windows" to the HAMK Sheet metal centre as one component of the near zero-energy concept. The main purpose of the windows was to improve working conditions by giving a feeling on circadian rhythm. But based on the first experiences, it was noted that windows create pleasant and evenly distributed light into the space so that artificial lighting is hardly needed during the light seasons.

     

    It’s possible to save more that 50 % in yearly lighting energy

    We carried out lighting simulations in the spaces where large windows were installed, and the results surprised us a bit: It would be possible to save more than 50 % in yearly lighting energy if daylight sensors were installed and lighting levels were adjusted by available daylight. The target level for illumination in the study was 300 LUX. But the results were almost as good for a 500 LUX case.

    Let-daylight-in-1

     

    Pleasant daylighting is possible to realise in all kinds of buildings

    Based on these positive experiences we decided to commercialise daylight windows as a part of our sandwich panel system, so that pleasant daylighting is possible to realise in all kinds of buildings. Opal or clear polycarbonate sheets with excellent thermal properties prevent glaring and excessive heat gains and create pleasant interior lighting conditions.

     

    See daylighting for yourself – visit our near zero-energy building

    Let-daylight-in-3

    You’re welcome to explore daylight windows in practice in our Technology Centre situated in the nZEB building in Hämeenlinna, Finland. Please contact me for further information.

    Read more about the near zero-energy hall at greatestzero.com

  • Steel facades are no longer only for industrial buildings

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Apr 27, 2017

    I always try to find the most functional solution to fit designers’ and developers’ needs and wishes. During the past two years working primarily in the Finnish market, I have recognised a growing trend towards using metal surfaces.

    It seems that the ”dull industrial material” is becoming ”chic” in other applications as well. As one senior-level architect mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago: ”Steel is back in style now. It’s like cloclthing trends in the fashion world… what goes around comes around”. After the discussion I started to think if it’s just a fling of fashion or is there something else behind this.

    The designer’s imagination is the only limit

    It seems to me that one reason for the growing trend is based on the development in the metal sector during the past few years. Earlier you had only ”fifty shades of gray” to choose from, and maybe a silverish colour if you were getting extreme. Now the portfolio is huge, you can choose from different colours and colour combinations (e.g. chameleontic colours) for facades, glosses, different brushed looks, textures, patterns (e.g. terracotta look-a-like) and freely-designed perforations. This gives lots of freedom to designers to work on.

    Prefabricated facade products and modularity improve quality and reduce waste

    Also modularity has played a big role in the construction industry within recent years. In the case for metal facade products, these are examples of prefabricated products which are normally manufactured under factory conditions. Using prefabricated products uniforms quality, takes away the waste from the construction site and speeds up the installation work. I think growth in modularity thinking comes from the fact that we need to be more efficient every day, and at same time, ensure superb and uniform quality in construction.

    Steel is also a lightweight construction system that minimises loads on the back frame, and therefore saves on sub-structure costs. Needing to perform better with less time and money leads to modularity and prefabrication.

    Steel facades on residential buildings

    The use of metal facades has grown dramatically especially in the urban multi-storey residential building sector in recent years. Of course the residential building sector has been the leading area in Finnish construction lately, but I’m talking about the share of metal facades in the new building sector.

    Concrete-based systems have traditionally been the most used facade materials on residential buildings in Finland, but now I can see a trend in metal and wood-based facades for the reasons I mentioned above. Metals and wood are good materials also in terms of sustainability: wood is renewable and metal is an almost fully-recycled material. In my opinion, wooden material has also got some political aspects behind it due to the fact that Finland produces plenty of wood.

    A rolling stone gathers no moss! Stay curious and see what metal facades can offer nowadays (and see our materials at ruukki.com/facadematerials)!

     

  • Unbelievable Challenge – or is it?

    by User Not Found | Jan 09, 2017

    Also I had the opportunity to meet Santa Claus at Christmas. You know this world-famous man, whose challenge is to fulfil peoples wishes all over the world during one night? Quite an amazing business he has, don’t you think? Two years back, Ruukki invited young architects from all over the world to help Santa in designing ideas for a logistics centre in harsh environmental conditions in the North of Finland. He really appreciated the incredible 246 designs submitted and has stored them all carefully for his future plans.

    This Christmas, Santa again looked worried. I asked him, “What’s up Santa? Why are you looking so worried?” He replied, “I love what I do and I’m trying really hard to handle all these presents to homes during one night. But it seems I’ve miscalculated and I have some presents left over. I need to find a solution quickly.” When I asked whether we could be of some help again, he immediately cheered up. “That would be great! I have a dream, but I do not have the talent. I need a lot of ideas and creativity again. I don’t want to reveal my plan just now, but I will let you know as soon as I have slightly more concrete plans. Would that be ok with you?”

    We agreed to be in touch after January. I wonder what he has in mind... What I do know is that he is heading for Poland in the near future. Let’s see what he comes up with for this year.

    In the meanwhile, if you haven’t already seen the designs architects created for Santa last time, please take a look at The Unbelievable Challenge Book. Also, please see how the winner of 2014 Unbelievable Challenge experienced his victory at www.ruukki.com/challenge.

    Stay tuned.

    tiina-santa-115x115

    Tiina Tukia
    VP, Marketing and Communications, Ruukki

    Twitter: @TiinaTukia
    Email: firstname.lastname@ruukki.com

  • Stepping out of the comfort zone

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Jun 14, 2016

    “You should step out of your comfort zone”. This is a phrase that I hear often when the discussion is about change or changing the way we work. I use this phrase, too. The amusing thing is that we use it more often when we refer to other people than ourselves. It is like I had nothing to do with it and only others need to do that. Frankly, I have noticed that I am not the only one thinking this way.

    After having an interesting discussion at work with my colleague about “stepping out of the comfort zone” I really started to think about it. More specifically, our discussion was really about change, and in my opinion it describes much better what is in the core of “stepping out of the comfort zone”.

    I argue that most of us would like to stay inside our comfort zone. This means that we want to be and feel comfortable. And I believe we do that because it is human behaviour. This way we can control the way we work and we know what happens next. We also know how to behave or act and we do not need to put any extra effort on thinking about our next steps – and most importantly, everything goes faster and smoother when there are no unexpected surprises. Who would like to make one's life more complicated? Nobody.

    Comfort zone hinders new opportunities and we can't afford that

    But there is one big problem with the “comfort zone”; it stops progress and creates a kind of a bird’s nest environment that does not take into account the changing environment around us. And it hinders the great new opportunities that are out there, because we do not even want to try anything new. I do not believe we can afford that. Not as a company or as individuals.

    So, let’s start to shake the “comfort zone” a bit: What happens if we step out and start trying new ways of working, or playing with new technology, or learn new tools? Or let’s spend some time in solving the challenges we might have. Or what if we have to say at work: “I do not know” or ask for help from a nearby colleague? I am 100 % sure that nothing negative will happen. On the contrary, many positive things will happen: We learn new ways of working and we realise how good it feels to learn about ideas and use our brains for something new. And most importantly, there is progressiveness and we are part of it, instead of sitting and feeling comfortable in our bird’s nests.

    Change is a constant condition and you need to learn how to love it

    I know it is not easy to walk the talk. I have personally been fortunate as I had the opportunity to work for a great leader who said sometime in 1990: “Change is a constant condition and you need to learn how to love it”. At that time the pace of change was not the same as in 2016, but he taught me one important thing: Change is not a bad word and we should not be afraid of adapting to change. Now in Ruukki, a few weeks back, I was asked to take part in piloting new technology for Ruukki Construction, and my intuitive answer was an immediate YES. I realised that I wanted to see some change in the way I work, or in the way our company works. So what has happened? Yes, I have been frustrated for a while. And I have been missing my own comfort zone for a while. I often need to ask advice from colleagues in the same group. But on the positive side I realise that I learn new things every day, and this feels inspiring. It is about learning something related to the future, a direction which is always better than looking backwards. At least for me it is.

    I hope that I can live my life by keeping my sensors open also going forward. I believe that makes tonnes of sense and it is an investment in myself. This blog post only touched on change related to the working environment. Naturally, stepping out of a comfort zone also relates to our private lives. But that is a different story, and way more complicated. But not impossible.

  • Superior energy efficiency through radiant heating and redimensioning of fresh air

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Jun 06, 2016

    Every schoolboy knows that air is a poor heat transfer medium, but it is still used for heating many supermarkets and halls. Ruukki was keen to make a serious study of the overall energy efficiency of large cavernous buildings. The apparent underlying reason for preferring air heating is that it can be set up in an easy and cost-effective way, as air conditioning units must be dimensioned for large ventilation volumes anyway.

    Redimensioning of airflow in ventilation systems

    HVAC designers generally determine air volumes by selecting the shortest route and applying standard guiding values instead of a demand-controlled approach. This leads to massive over-dimensioning of the outside airflow. Assuming that one person requires six litres of air per second, for example, the 2 l/s/m2 guideline value for retail outlets will provide enough fresh air for more than 3,300 people in a space of 10,000 square metres!  Of course these fresh air volumes are immediately rationalised in practice by the carbon dioxide control that is often fitted in modern ventilation systems, but the capacity of the equipment itself is still inexplicably designed on the assumption of standard guiding values. It can even be greater in practice to make sure that there will also be enough heat on the coldest days.

    Energy-efficient radiation-based heat distribution

    We were keen to challenge this established practice and develop a system of radiation-based heat distribution that would be substantially more energy-efficient. The air conditioning equipment could then also be dimensioned simply to match the true need for fresh air. In practice this would mean that we could manage with air conditioning machines of no more than half the current size!

    The benefits of a radiation-based heating approach seemed to grow as we studied this option in greater detail, and we were also keen to try it out in a new hall with an energy rating of almost zero constructed for HAMK Häme University of Applied Sciences. The radiation profile that we developed for integration into the roof structure of the pilot building was not only energy-efficient, but also aesthetically pleasing.  We have been thoroughly satisfied with the trial, and hopefully we shall also have a heat wave this summer to be able to test its use with a geo-cooling system.

    Learn more about the zero-energy building and the solutions used in it

  • Using daylight in buildings

    by User Not Found | May 10, 2016

    Today, Granlund's lighting designer Sanna Forsman and Ruukki's Petteri Lautso discuss daylight in building design:

    More about the near zero-energy hall

    For a visual introduction to the zero-energy hall, go to www.greatestzero.com

    To find out more about the solutions used in the near zero-energy hall, go to ruukki.com/hamk-ruukki

    To be the first to hear about our future videos, follow us on Youtube, LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter

  • How to sell your project

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Apr 19, 2016

    I am quite convinced that there is a skill to be learnt in selling for all of us, not just salespeople. Most of us in the construction industry are far more focused on how to complete our projects with minimum hassle or how to make most profit during the project. Not a lot of thought is wasted on what the customer wants. In fact, it sometimes seems unclear to many participants who the customer is. The industry as a whole is not exactly customer-oriented.

    Why is the customer buying from you

    The money tends to come from the customer, so it might be a good idea to stop for a while and think of why they would be giving their money to you. And the answer is not because you are the cheapest, because you are not. The cheapest alternative would be not to buy or rent at all.  So there must be a reason for the customer to be buying in the first place.

    Digging into those reasons is the first step of successfully selling anything including the property and construction sector. If you happen to have what a customer thinks he or she needs, it’s just a question of finding out how those customers can be reached, right?

    How does this work when you are selling a project instead of a product? You possess just the capacity, skills or other assets necessary to reach the goal your customers have set for themselves. Not the goal itself.

    Listen

    In my experience, the best thing to do is to listen, also between the lines. Sometimes understanding takes a little effort, but it is almost always worth it.  If you can get on the same page with the customer, you have much better chances of putting together the right solution to offer a viable route to reach that goal.  If you have the right assets available, that should get you pretty far. But it will not get you quite all the way to selling anything. There’s the talking part, too.

    Things are not always how they seem, but decisions are based just on how things seem at that moment. I would not go as far as to say appearance is everything, but still the customer should be able to understand what benefits you can bring to the table and why that is relevant to reaching the goal. It is the seller’s job to make things understandable, even if the customer does not know half of what you know about your specialty. This is something we often forget when bashing our customers about making the wrong decision.

    Who, how and why

    Salesmanship as a skill is something that professional salespeople can perfect, but for most of us deep in the world of complex solutions like buildings it is usually something that should be built on top of other skills. This goes for all of us. Even if you never see the customers, they still pay your bills.

    Personally I have come to believe that keeping in mind who, how and why is buying what I offer, is a very good way to continuously challenge myself to do better and co-operate more efficiently. This might be true regardless of the discipline we represent even though specialist professionals tend to neglect the thought. It will most certainly help you in selling your project.

  • Which materials to use for ecologically sustainable buildings?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Mar 15, 2016

    People ask me often which materials they should use to construct an ecologically sustainable building. Unfortunately, it is a totally wrong and even harmful way of thinking from the viewpoint of sustainability.

    My reply was that low-carbon construction would be a better target than contemplating the materials, especially when all buildings contain a huge number of different materials.

    Environmental footprint is the sum of various factors

    For many, sustainable development and ecological construction mean minimising the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the manufacture of building materials. However, it is important to understand that the amount of material used is as important as the material chosen. The technical and economic longevity, energy efficiency, location and recycling potential of the building as well as many other factors affect the burden it caused to the environment.

    Building life cycle from time from initial production to recycling

    The way of thinking which aims at perceiving total effects is called Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Making a life cycle assessment is a surprisingly old method but unfortunately not well-known and understood. Its idea is that the effects on the environment are monitored from the initial production of the materials to the recycling of the end-product. Thus, an assessment on the total effects is drawn. However, a whole building is such a complex entity that there is temptation to simplify the targets to arguments for or against a single material.

    The most important factor for ecological construction and for promoting the business based on it is to make the constructors and building owners to understand sustainable buildings and building materials in a wider sense.

    Ecologically sustainable building is created by usage

    Sustainable development is often consciously defined as a combination of three areas: social, economic and ecological. The material choices of buildings affect all of those areas and singling only one out can lead to considerable deficiencies in the other areas.

    Even an ecologically sustainable building is not created by construction alone but by usage. The longer the building remains usable as for its location, size and construction, the more years the burden caused by its construction is divided into.  Flexible conversion and usage possibilities and sustainable location are often more important factors than the material choices.

  • Intelligent building – utopia or reality?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Mar 08, 2016

    Intelligent buildings have been discussed for at least two decades. The Internet of Things has added speed to the development. Developing various sensors and data networks has brought immense possibilities to the reasonable control of buildings and the real-time linking of functions occurring inside the building.

    Intelligence is primarily associated with building automation. Seen from the outside, the goings-on in building automation have been wild. Globally, there are separate standalone and partially closed systems the communication of which with the outside world has been demanding, to say at the least. In the past few years, some protocols have been created, such as Bacnet, Modbus and KNX, some of which are standardized. This is a good trend but we are still far away from open and adaptive systems.  Furthermore, the data network protections of different companies bring their own challenge to the fluent transfer of information. Are we actually ready for the possibilities of the Internet of Things?

    We struggle on the steps of various qualities of information:  Data - Information – Knowledge. A huge amount of data exists in various systems but their availability can often be only limited to the ‘appropriate’ and safe operation of control devices. The purchase of a device does not necessarily guarantee the ownership of data or information produced by the device if it was not specified in the call for offers.  There seem to exist hindrances for calculating other information from the data or combining them to other functions in the building and, thus, hindrances for descending to the upmost step, knowledge.

    Buildings are always for the user

    In Ruukki, we have started an expedition to this world of collecting and utilising data. We are building a user-oriented demonstration to our new Technology Centre situated in a recently completed, near zero-energy building in Hämeenlinna, Finland.  We built a visual interface by utilising the spatial mock-up of the building. The purpose of the tool is to easily demonstrate the functionality of the technical solutions of the building and the status of the indoor conditions and the structural components. The model also helps the user to see the effects of their operations in the functionality of the building. Keeping the bay doors open for too long, for instance, affects the indoor conditions but also considerably the energy consumption.  The model was also combined with an RdNet people detecting & flow system which shows the real-time locations of people in the space. This location information is utilised e.g. in controlling lighting. We would be happy to welcome our customers and partners to get to know the possibilities of the system and to develop together additional services producing value to the user.

    Read more about the near zero-energy hall at greatestzero.com

  • Ruukki's energy efficiency work and the first near zero-energy hall

    by User Not Found | Feb 17, 2016

    Ruukki's Petteri Lautso and Jyrki Kesti discuss the R&D history around energy efficiency and the near zero-energy hall in Hämeenlinna, Finland:

    More about the near zero-energy hall

    For a visual introduction to the zero-energy hall, go to www.greatestzero.com

    To find out more about the solutions used in the near zero-energy hall, go to ruukki.com/hamk-ruukki

    To be the first to hear about our future videos, follow us on Youtube, LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter

  • Experiences from building a near zero-energy hall

    by User Not Found | Jan 28, 2016

    Tuomas Salonen, the Head of Facilities Management at Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK), is happy to report success in the near zero-energy hall project:

    “We have learned a great deal over the course of this project about the practicalities of generating and storing heat. HAMK's Sheet Metal Centre applies a new approach to combining geothermal and solar energy systems into an efficient package.”

    Here's Tuomas discussing the project and the solutions used in it with Ruukki's Petteri Lautso:

    More about the near zero-energy hall

    For a visual introduction to the zero-energy hall, go to www.greatestzero.com

    To find out more about the solutions used in the near zero-energy hall, go to ruukki.com/hamk-ruukki

    To be the first to hear about our future videos, follow us on Youtube, LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter

  • Branding - our employees are our brand identity

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Jan 28, 2016

    Our branding fundamentals

    Having had the opportunity to work on many branding programs in global companies over the last 20 years, I feel once again excited and energised about the work at hand today. I do not believe there is only one right way to work with programs like this. There are no “brand schools”, and brand programs cannot be built up with theoretical descriptions with PowerPoints or Excel sheets. All the books that I have read about branding during the years are – at the end – saying the same: Brands exist in the customers’ mind. Then again, company identities are built by companies, or actually the people inside companies. For me these are the fundaments, which form a foundation for a successful program regardless of the industry or geography.

    People in a digital age

    I am fully aware about the opportunities that digitalisation is enabling (and if I don’t get it, my younger colleagues remind me immediately!). I understand that more people are online today than ever before and companies need to be there, too, of course. Great! But still, I always return to the core: the people. The people who meet other people – online or offline. The people who shake hands with other people. The people who tell stories to other people. The people who love what they do and want to serve as well as help customers to do better business. The people who keep customers coming back and ultimately transform the relationship to business. This is even truer in business to business environments, where deals are agreed between people. We can now do a lot of this online, however, there is a lot we cannot.

    Our employees are our identity

    In Ruukki Construction we want to drive the change and challenge the way we do business today. We want to re-write the story and re-define our identity – ultimately the Ruukki brand. All our end-customer segments from housing, retail to logistics and industrial are facing drastic transformations. Transformations due to changes in technology, consumer behaviour and increasing in popularity of greener as well as smarter solutions. I have spent hours discussing our identity with my colleagues in Ruukki around the organisation and in different countries. We have also discussed the value Ruukki offers with our partners and consumers. Our technological knowhow and willingness to drive the change is in our core. We understand that buildings are about people and our story must be about people, not buildings.

    The Ruukki identity is defined by the employees of Ruukki, not in board meetings. This is how we feel it should be. If we do not define our identity honestly – from inside out – and tell our story, somebody will do it for us. Our employees represent our brand. Always and everywhere. Online and offline. We aim for a brand that would make us valuable to all our customers and partners.

    This makes sense to us in Ruukki and I am happy to be part of it – building your tomorrow.

  • In intelligent construction, simulation and cooperation are key

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Jan 21, 2016

    Incompatible devices, wrong valves, unsuitable pumps and incorrect meters. Functional testing is left half undone and when commissioned, the HVAC system does not work as intended. Sadly, this is still an everyday problem in many construction projects. Energy consumption measurement alone seems to be a nearly insurmountable challenge. One would think it would be everyone's benefit to know where the energy is spent, allowing those concerned to address faults before they become a problem. If even the energy management company involved in the project does not really know which values it is reporting to the customer, then there is definitely something wrong.

    Many of the problems are caused by obsolete work practices or lack of cooperation. Things might turn out better, if the device suppliers were selected first and the systems designed second. Moreover, the systems should be designed together in one go, as this would ensure compatibility.

    Energy efficiency relies on good HVAC and building automation design

    HVAC systems have a key role in achieving true energy efficiency. Today, all HVAC systems and the entire operation of the building can be simulated extremely accurately using building simulation tools. Based on the simulation, the PLCs controlling the systems can be configured so that the relevant systems achieve optimal energy efficiency. In practice, the simulations are used by an HVAC system designer to determine the required systems and PLC parametres. The HVAC designer’s efforts, in turn, provide a basis for the building automation designer, who designs the HVAC systems for easy monitoring, control and management. In my opinion, the automation designer could be engaged in the process at a considerably earlier stage.

    Building simulation, BIMs and the Big Room

    Building energy simulation and building information models (BIM) deserve a bigger role in the final commissioning and adjustment of completed buildings. Simulation could also be used to plan out any changes in the building's intended purpose throughout its lifecycle, allowing the effects of the changes to be identified and understood well beforehand.

    In the recent years, the Big Room method has gained traction and would also definitely improve the results in this context. In the method, designers and contractors work towards project-specific goals in a shared physical or virtual space either part-time or full-time. This cooperative model allows those involved to develop new solutions and test them faster and better than ever. It might also promote achieving goals by increasing different parties’ financial commitment to the project.

    The first near zero-energy hall already up and running

    Ruukki has worked in close collaboration with the Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK) in the construction of its new extension in Hämeenlinna. Housing the university’s Sheet metal centre, the building is the first near zero-energy hall in Finland. One of the main goals of the project was to achieve close cooperation between the customer, the designers and contractors at the earliest possible stage.

    Naturally, commissioning the building’s systems was not without its hiccups. The building includes systems specifically designed for accurate monitoring of different areas of energy consumption. In addition to typical building automation data, the systems are used for piloting and testing various services bringing the systems closer to the user. One of the big goals is to tear down barriers between systems. Our future posts will focus on the experiences thus far.

    Read more about the near zero-energy hall at greatestzero.com

  • The biggest outcome from the Paris agreement to us was that it did not fail

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.AuthorProfiles.AuthorProfile | Jan 12, 2016

    Like many other companies in the European construction and property sectors, Ruukki has for a long time seen climate change (along with the actions against it) as one of the biggest long-term change engines in our operating environment. Without the Paris Agreement, the willpower and motivation of those participating in the fight against climate change might have turned into frustration. The fact that the whole world now agrees to participate in this fight is a good cause for a collective sigh of relief.

    Building competence in energy efficiency

    Over the years we have actively gained valuable knowledge in energy efficiency, material efficiency and energy-efficient construction. This work will only make a difference in the big picture if we can successfully commercialise what knowledge we have and build new competence upon it.

    In an industry like ours where the life span of the end product is very long and new technologies are adopted slowly, it helps a lot if we can rely on our view of the future. Building competence into our entire chain from R&D through sales to our customers takes time, faith and determination.

    But most importantly, it requires a common goal. Had the Paris negotiations failed, we all would have had to start over by making sure that we are working towards the same purpose (and if that purpose is, in fact, correct). Now we can perhaps start assuming that more and more people share the same basic views on sustainability, energy-efficient building and concentrate on agreeing upon practical, concrete actions.

    Window for developing sustainable construction and fighting climate change

    Speed is essential, especially now. For all of us committed to more sustainable ways of developing our building stock, it is important not to miss this window. What will make the difference is whether we succeed in making a continuous change in the way we work and what we try to accomplish. If we succeed, the Paris Agreement can really turn out to be the start of a rapid change.

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