United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Housing and Land Management Unit organized a special event of a photo exhibition entitled Building the Future We Want as part of the celebration of World Habitat Day on 1 October in Geneva.
Permanent Representatives of six countries had been invited to present a photo of a sustainable building from their country. Finland took part in the event by presenting the wooden Pilke House, which is located in Rovaniemi, Northern Finland. In addition to Finnish Ambassador Päivi Kairamo-Hella, sustainable buildings of different countries were presented by the Ambassadors of Austria, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and the Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States of America. The presentations focused on the esthetic, functional and technical value of the buildings and, in particular, described their sustainability features and the green aspects of their design.
Kairamo-Hella presented the Pilke House as an example of top expertise in ecological wood construction and a masterpiece of Finnish architecture. Pilke is the office building of Metsähallitus, a state‐owned enterprise, which is responsible for managing most of the protected areas of Finland and supplying wood to the country's forest industry. Pilke is not only an office building, but also home of the Pilke Science Centre exhibiting sustainable use of northern forests.
Apart from just including the features of the Pilke House, the speech of Kairamo-Hella also highlighted the aspects of wood construction in general from the perspective of sustainability and the importance of wood and wood construction for Finland. The key message of the speech was that wood is a renewable and energy-efficient raw material, which has significantly lower CO2 emissions compared to the production of non-renewable raw materials. Moreover, wood-based products or buildings serve as valuable carbon stores.
Kairamo-Hella pointed out that wood is the only construction material with a continually increasing raw material source. By using wood, the use of non-renewable materials can be reduced or eliminated completely. The various positive environmental effects of the use of wood construction and items made of wood are evident in the case of the Pilke House as well, as its carbon emissions are only one-third of those of a steel or concrete building of the same size.
The event organized by UNECE was successful and Finland’s as well as the other participating countries’ stories of sustainable design from around the UNECE region aroused great interest.