Kimmo Hilliaho, the human resources director at Lumon proudly presents the merenkulkija waterfront residential development in lauttasaari, where each apartment is equipped with Lumon balcony glazing.
Installing Balcony Glazing Saves Energy and the Environment
Text: Anna Gustafsson Image: Juha Arvid Helminen
Many residents seek balcony glazing as a way to bring more floor space to their homes. However, balcony glazing also provides added benefits such as significant energy savings as a result of controlled heat loss from the apartment.
Kimmo Hilliaho, human resources director at Lumon Oy, meets us at the residential development on the Merenkulkija waterfront in Helsinki’s Lauttasaari, surrounded by oceanic scenery. All apartments within the development have Lumon’s balcony glazing. Lumon is an international family-owned company that manufactures, sells and installs balcony glazing with over 1000 professionals employed. First, we take a look at the balcony glazing and then move to the backside of the building, where we can see the glazed balcony façade of the courtyard.
"At this location, it is clearly visible that the balcony glazing has been integrated to be a part of the unified façade already during the design phase."
Hilliaho is an energy saving expert on balcony glazing and has debated the subject to obtain his Ph. D. in technology from Tampere University of Technology. This year, a book published by the Association of Civil Engineers on best practices of balcony glazing will be published, with Hilliaho as the main author.
Energy Savings as a Result
Emissions from the production of balcony glazing are offset within an average of 3.3 years as a result of the energy saving benefits that the glazing provides. In Hilliaho’s calculations, the energy savings of a single balcony are, based on even the most conventional estimates, 200 kilowatt hours per year. In Finland, about 75 percent of balconies are glazed, and when you consider all these 600,000 balconies added together, 120 gigawatt hours have already been saved. This corresponds to an annual output of 60 wind turbines. This has a significant effect when it comes to considering the carbon footprint of the company in the world.
"Balcony glazing reduces air draft, so it is possible to decrease inside temperatures by one degree in glazed flats in comparison to apartments without glazing."
Emissions from the Production of Balcony Glazing are Compensated for in About 3.3 Years.
Is the importance of balcony glazing as an environmentally-friendly solution to reduce carbon footprint recognized?
"I have the impression that it is not yet widely understood. Often, only the cost to the resident is discussed."
Hilliaho points out that balcony glazing is one of the few restoration solutions that improves energy efficiency, while also bringing benefits in regard to living comfort.
Development Work Continues
Balcony glazing has become much lighter in the last three decades. The amount of metal in glazing solutions has decreased and the share of recycled glass in the finished product has increased to 20%. Lumon strives to take the environment into consideration in its operations.
The company has the entire product life cycle in its hands: manufacturing, installation and maintenance. All materials for balcony glazing, glass and aluminum, can be recycled and reused in production. At the Lumon plant, more than 95 percent of the cutting waste is recycled.
According to Hilliaho, as a market leader, Lumon has the responsibility to invest in product development. As the next subject of development, he mentions the seemingly uniform sun protection solutions which are integrated with the balcony glazing, and which are in increasing demand.
Most apartment residents regard balcony glazing positively, but some are contemplating costs. Hilliaho occasionally receives phone calls from condominium chairmen who consider arguments for consensual agreement of the residents on the installation of balcony glazing. Even Hilliaho cannot provide a patented answer for that. In general, however, the cost reduction through the heating and cooling energy saving benefits is well understood.
Balcony glazing results in other savings as well. The glazing protects the façade of the building and as a result, the structures of the building are maintained, and do not deteriorate as quickly. New, glazed balconies have a lifetime of 60-130 years, so as an energy investment, balcony glazing pays off.
Still, the most inspiring part of Hilliaho’s work for himself is being able to be involved in the fight against climate change.
"When it comes to the benefits of balcony glazing, the common denominator is always climate," concludes Hilliaho.