A Tengbom Eriksson Architects’ Internal R&D project (2011-2013)

Deliverables: an assessment method “ERKKO”, a diploma thesis, checklists, a conference paper for IFME 2012.

A project which aimed to improve the everyday planning processes of the office was deemed not only a necessity but also a business opportunity. The main outcome of this Business Finland -funded* project was a practical eco-efficiency assessment tool for urban planning, familiarly called ERKKO.

Planners should understand sustainability and evaluate the combined impact of their solutions. But often research material is not easy to use.

First, a large amount of research material was studied to identify the most significant aspects of sustainability on different scales. Next goal was to apply theory in practice, to recognize the most important indicators of eco-efficiency so that they can be considered in planning.The focus is on the parameters that have the strongest impact and elements that can be evaluated easily (remember, the goal was to develop something easy to use).

In ERKKO, the core of eco-efficiency has been divided to four different categories:

  1. Energy consumption
  2. CHG emissions
  3. Material efficiency
  4. Ecosystem

The eco-efficiency parameters include e.g. land use efficiency, connection to recreation areas and public transportation service level. The method strongly emphasizes traffic, service accessibility and heating.

ERKKO evaluates also quality of living environment. The categories are:

  1. Social regulation
  2. Functionality
  3. Proximity to nature
  4. Serving the different resident groups

The quality parameters include among others diversity of services, privacy and sense of community, spaciousness and verdancy, cityscape and architecture.

Weighting describe the strength between a parameter and a category. For instance, efficiency of land use affects energy consumption and CHG emissions, stormwater management and diversity of ecosystem. Each category has a different amount of parameters and maximum points, we did not see any added value in trying to equalise the points. The assessor should bear this in mind while comparing the results.

We focused on master planning (planning level) and housing areas (use of the area) for several reasons:demand, ecological impact of these kind of areas, plus available, suitable test material. It was obvious that one tool can not serve all different planning needs. A criteria may be relevant on one scale but not on another, or relevant for a certain land use (housing) but not other (commercial).

ERKKO-assessment is an expert service, currently available in Finland only.

* Business Finland=The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation

Below: visualisations