The Indoor Environment Program (IE) has been an exceptionally successful strategic research program. It has had a significant impact on the way Finnish real estate and construction sector makes decisions and continues utilization of strategic research and own development results – you have to learn from users and create more sustainable, flexible and comprehensive solutions with a multidisciplinary approach if you want to success on global markets also in the future. The program has contributed to the new mindset and new strategic competencies for the industry through very active strategic research. In fact, IE program has published 250 journal and conference articles around the world – so there are 250 reasons to be proud of and to be a top-tier research program among SHOK-programs. Importantly most of consortium company members have successfully utilized the results in their business development – in few cases already in the form of globally competitive products and services. When considering the used resources of 23M euros during 2011-2015, we think it was worth every cent and more.
IE Program results have been actively utilized in new product development. In technical product development numerous results of the IE Program, such as thermal comfort modeling, simulation and design tools as well as the control, heating and cooling systems of nearly zero energy buildings, have been found highly valuable by consortium companies in accelerating their new product development. Moreover, the international comparison studies of the program, such as those in energy storage, have provided new business and technology transfer opportunities for companies and accelerated their RDI activities.
The consortium companies see great business potential in IE Program results – say the results of IE Program business potential survey conducted in November 2014. According to the survey results, 95 % of the companies reported that IE research results will strengthen their market position and 89 % of companies estimate that the IE results will also increase their profits. Over 30 % of the companies assess that their market share will increase at least 5 % thanks to IE results. Moreover, 25 % of companies believe that business profits will be at least 5 %-units higher in the future due to IE program results. This kind of results will encourage companies and research institutes to continue interdisciplinary research also in the future. Moreover, the results of recent IE Program self-evaluation survey indicate that IE results have multi-functional possibilities in the built environment particularly in indoor environment business. In addition, the survey revealed that the most valuable feature of IE Program has been interdisciplinary research from the company perspective.
IE Program has had a wide international co-operation network. The Program’s main international partners (Fig 1: 23 universities, research centers and professional communities) were located Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany Sweden, The Netherlands, UK and USA. Knowledge sharing especially with DTU in Denmark was very productive. According to the feedback from consortium companies, international co-operation of IE Program was versatile, but it could have been more intense. However the IE Program offered all consortium members a good possibility to build new connections around the world – this will be essential especially for companies with global business potential.
Fig 1. Locations of main international partners
Development and administration of a multidisciplinary research program is not easy – that’s why the role of RYM Ltd. as a program leader organization is important to real estate and construction sector also in the future. Furthermore, many thanks to agile program manager team of Boost Brothers – it is easier to focus on the core tasks when circumstances are suitable for reaching targets.
The program consisted of four thematic work packages:
WP1 – User-Centric Indoor Environment
WP2 – Energy Efficient Control of Indoor Environment (EECI)
WP3 – Business Logic on Knowledge Intensive Space Markets (KISS)
WP4 – Future Learning Environments
Main research questions were (Fig 2):
|Work package||Q1: How people perceive the indoor environment?||Q2: How indoor environment supports the peoples’ well-being and productivity?||Q3: How to build zero energy houses with good and healthy indoor environments?||Q4: How to improve actual indoor environment and energy efficiency as well as awareness of those in existing buildings ?||Q5: What is the business logic of superior indoor environment?|
– User-Centric Indoor Environment
– Energy Efficient Control of Indoor Environment (EECI)
– Business Logic on Knowledge Intensive Space Markets (KISS)
– Future Learning Environments
Fig 2. Main research questions in work packages
Examples of the Results of the IE Program
|To develop solutions that create added value with excellent IEQ for both users and facility owners through excellent indoor conditions.||
|To respond to the challenge of increasing the user satisfaction under the pressure of tightening energy regulations and demands.||
|To investigate rational metrics and processes as well as market-driven business models of indoor environment from the economic, environmental and social perspectives.||
|To create new design process taking full advantage of integrated and collaborative design of core processes and indoor environments.||
Director at Halton, Adjunct Professor at Aalto University, Chairman of the IE Program Steering Group