Biodiversity Building – Increasing Biodiversity in Wooden Apartment Buildings

Biodiversity Building – Increasing Biodiversity in Wooden Apartment Buildings

The Biodiversity Building is a brand new concept for a wooden apartment building. The building, which promotes biodiversity and absorbs carbon, is being developed by the Y-Foundation in a project spanning from 2020 to 2022. The project has received funding from the Ministry of the Environment’s Aid Scheme for Growth and Development from Wood.  

What is the Biodiversity Building?  

The Biodiversity Building project strives to investigate how the technical and spatial solutions of a wooden apartment building could be used to protect biodiversity and reduce the carbon footprint from housing.  

Once completed, the purpose of the Biodiversity Building is to promote biodiversity through its  

  • structures,  
  • use of the ground and  
  • utilisation of the roof level.  

For the tenants, the building will provide the opportunity to lead a low-carbon lifestyle and grow your own food as part of apartment living.  

Biodiversity Building. Y-Foundation and Planetary Architecture.

Why is the Y-Foundation developing the Biodiversity Building?  

As an operator in the rental apartment sector, the Y-Foundation has made a fair transition towards carbon neutral living its ambitious goal. The Foundation’s goal is to become a carbon neutral operator by 2035. We also want to support the sustainable lifestyle of our tenants. This development project will give us methods and tools for reaching these strategic goals. 

The Y-Foundation has constructed wooden apartment buildings in Jyväskylä and Kuopio in 2020 and 2021, so we already have experience with wood construction. During the project, surveys and workshops will be used to examine how tenants feel about living in a wooden apartment building. The Y-Foundation is also investigating landscaping possibilities that can be integrated to the wooden building. 

The role of the tenants?  

The largest contributors to the Finnish carbon footprint are housing, transportation, food and other consumer choices. The goal of the Biodiversity Building is to allow each tenant a carbon budget of two tonnes. The carbon footprint of the average Finn is currently over ten tonnes, with the European Union average being 7.2 tonnes. 

The idea of the Biodiversity Building to encourage its tenants to participate in and commit to a sustainable lifestyle. As a long-time provider of rental apartments and organiser of tenant activity, the Y-Foundation is able to work towards this goal with the tenants.  

Why wood construction? 

The role of soil in carbon sequestration has only become understood in recent years. As much as 25 per cent of carbon sequestration happens through soil. One of the main benefits of wood construction is the fact that the foundations of a wooden building can be significantly lighter than those of a concrete-based building, conserving the natural state of the ground.  

The goal of the Biodiversity Building is to reduce earthworks, replacement of soil and quarrying, thus preserving the biodiversity of the soil during the construction process. Ideally, the biodiversity of the soil may even recover as part of the construction and living.  

Wood construction has significant potential to support the reduction of an individual tenant’s carbon footprint. According to the current understanding, low-carbon construction is possible by choosing materials that absorb carbon and reducing energy consumption when the building is in use. The low-carbon philosophy also includes making it possible for the building and its tenants to reduce excessive consumption. 

In addition to lighter foundations, we are developing flexible emergency exit solutions together with a fire safety consultant. The purpose of this development work is to free up ground around the emergency routes without compromising safety.  

Goals of the project?  

The project produces economical, technical and architectural information and understanding about wood construction. The collected information enables the development of the Biodiversity Building to the point where a pilot building can be constructed in an actual urban environment. The project will also produce a library of sub-solutions for public use.

The project has received funding from the Ministry of the Environment’s Aid Scheme for Growth and Development from Wood. The Biodiversity Building project has applied to the City of Helsinki’s Re-thinking Urban Housing programme. The goal is to find a lot for the pilot building in the City of Helsinki area. 


The Biodiversity Building development project in a nutshell. The project consists of: 

  • compiling Finnish and international examples of living that promotes biodiversity and growing food in a wooden apartment building 
  • researching how to increase biodiversity in the industrially constructed Biodiversity Building wood apartment building concept that adapts to urban environments and natural conditions  
  • producing economical, technical and architectural information and understanding for the purposes of designing an environmentally friendly wooden apartment building 
  • investigating how to utilise the natural lightness of wooden structures through a breathing ground level, fewer points of contact with the soil and lightweight foundation methods that conserve the site 
  • investigating whether it is possible to utilise self-exiting in case of emergency to create a new type of apartment building where the side corridors are free of emergency exit route requirements. This would allow the side corridors to be also constructed out of wood 
  • promoting a tenant-oriented approach and holistic sustainable lifestyle in wooden apartment buildings by using Y-Foundation tenants who are interested in a sustainable lifestyle as trial users 
  • utilising the information collected during the project to improve wood construction and the promotion of biodiversity in further Y-Foundation construction projects.

Further info: 

Project Manager Inari Virkkala, inari.virkkala@ysaatio.fi

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