is buzzing with excitement. The last push is still ahead. Come midsummer, she will already be taking a sauna in her zero-energy home with building automation by ABB. “Being away from home often as we are, we will no longer have to worry about heating, lighting and safety,” says top Finnish skier Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, better known as Aikku, justifying her selection of ABB’s KNX building automation in her new home.
Photo courtesy of Aki Loponen
Following the end of the competition season, Aino-Kaisa visits the building site with ABB's area sales manager Leevi Peltonen
to see how work is progressing. Aino-Kaisa’s and her fiancé Tom Gustafsson’s dream house, on the side of the Salpausselkä ridge in Hollola, will be completed this summer. The plot was donated by the municipality of Hollola in 2009, the year she won the world championship.
“There’s a skiing track leading to Tiirismaa there,” says Aino-Kaisa pointing to the corner of the plot. “Good skiing and hiking terrain was crucial when choosing the location.”
“I‘ve had time for menial jobs”
“We were so crazy that we started building a house right when we are at our busiest,” Aino-Kaisa laughs, leaping from one room to another. “I spend more than 200 days a year on the road and at camps, and Tom is studying alongside his work. Fortunately, we have people who can help us, and professional builders.”
Aino-Kaisa explains that she has had time to do some menial work at the site, cleaning up and carrying things. “Tom visits the site every morning. I haven’t had to worry about the actual building work at all, but I have had to make constant decisions.”
ABB’s Leevi Peltonen tells Aino-Kaisa Saarinen about the ease of use of building automation systems (Photo courtesy of Aki Loponen)
Everyday life must be free of trouble
Aino-Kaisa describes the life of a top athlete as a never-ending hurry. “We can change places several times a week. There are competitions during the week and at weekends. You only have time to do the laundry at home, and then you have to pack and leave again.” Hurried departures are made easier for Aino-Kaisa with smart building technology.
“This is, after all, quite a big house. It is important that I can switch the lighting off, drop the heating to the desired level and set the air conditioning to the minimum level with the home/away switch. When the burglar alarm is activated, the doors are also locked."
The skier wants to leave home without any worries, without being afraid that some device, say the iron or lights, have been left on. Often she doesn’t get home until nighttime. “It’s a relief to be able to switch on all the building systems with a single button. In my work, there isn’t time to consider anything else.”
ABB’s Leevi Peltonen assures us that, although Tom is an engineer, learning how to use the technology really does not require an engineering degree. Controlling all the building systems through a single system makes it so much easier to use," says Leevi and according to Aino-Kaisa, building systems are so easy to use that anyone can learn how.
Aino-Kaisa’s and ABB’s paths crossed by accident at an event that was hosted by the Swedish Embassy. “I met a manager from ABB Sweden there and told him that we were building a house and were interested in KNX building automation. That’s how the cooperation began.”
Smart house saves energy
Saving energy is a fundamental idea in Aino-Kaisa’s house. The couple wanted to reduce their carbon footprint, even though the floor area of the three stories total 450 square meters. The Kivitasku house is produced by the Suutarinen construction company from Mäntyharju. It is a zero-energy house, tailored to the wishes of Aino-Kaisa and Tom. The well-insulated building features high-performance air conditioning and heat recovery, central water-under floor heating using geothermal power, and a heat-accumulating fireplace.
The KNX building automation is used for adjusting lighting on an energy-efficient basis, producing lighting conditions, adjusting the room-specific temperature and controlling the curtains and awnings.
According to Lasse Mäkinen, KNX building automation expert at ABB, building automation can achieve considerable savings. “It is easy to monitor energy consumption in the building, and it encourages you to think how to reduce it further. The price of energy will certainly increase,” Mäkinen assures. Aino-Kaisa says that geothermal heat was not originally considered possible because the plot is situated on an esker. “However, nine meters down, the drill hit rock. The borehole was then drilled down to a depth of 200 meters.”
Respecting natural values
Nature and sustainability are close to Aino-Kaisa’s heart. “Recycling and natural values have always been important to me. The love of nature has also developed with my sport. I have come to realize that we must care about our environment.”
At Aino-Kaisa’s childhood home, a detached house in Hollola, her family have always recycled and composted. She also does this in her own house.
In the basement, Aino-Kaisa shows us the sauna and her future “work room," a top athlete's gym with various kinds of equipment. “There will be a kinesis fitness machine, a treadmill, a weightlifting bench, and room for fitness ball training. I can watch music videoson a wall-mounted TV, for example, while running on the treadmill.”
With the ABB-Welcome door phone system, Aino-Kaisa can see who is at the door during a workout in the basement. The house is tailored to suit the busy lives of a sports-oriented family, even when the professional career is over. “We aim to be able to live in this house for the rest of our lives, only moving once more, to Hollola cemetery,” says Aino-Kaisa.
Aino-Kaisa and Tom will move into their new home early this summer. “We are moving from a single-bedroom condo with a floor area of 55 square meters. It’s going to be quite a big change.”
KNX building automation
+ One switch turns the desired functions on and off.
+ Heating, lighting, ventilation, domestic appliances, fire and burglar alarms, door phone system, security cameras, and electrically operated curtains and awnings can be incorporated in the system.
+ Real-time monitoring of energy consumption.
+ Single, easy-to-use system.
+ Can be operated with a remote controller or via a mobile phone or tablet.
+ Easy to expand by adding new functions.
+ KNX actuators are fitted into a standard Näpsä switchboard.
+ ABB-Welcome door phone system combines audio and video with the doorbell.
+ Impressivo is a complete range of installation fixtures. The products come in various colors, and cover plates offer an enhanced visual appearance.
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Photo courtesy of Aki Loponen
Occupation: cross-country skier
Family: Fiancé Tom Gustafsson
Team: Lempäälän Kisa
Career highlights: Bronze medal at the Turin Winter Olympics 2006 and two bronze medals at the Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010, gold medal in the women’s relay team at the Sapporo Nordic World Ski Championships 2007, three world championships and one bronze medal at the Liberec Nordic World Ski Championships 2009, second in the final standings of the 2009 Tour de Ski, silver and bronze medals at the Oslo Nordic World Ski Championships 2011. Athlete of the Year 2009.