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Finnish shopping center goes digital

Perfect partners: sustainability at shopping center

With more than 170 shops, a multiplex cinema and 24 million visitors each year, the Sello shopping center has continually been rated by consumers in the Helsinki metropolitan area as one of the best – and one of the greenest. For ten years Sello has been working with Siemens on innovative building automation and energy projects that increase sustainability and add to the perfect shopping experience.

Complex buildings like Sello traditionally make high demands on maintenance and management, but digitalization and cloud-based solutions are increasing efficiency.

The Sello shopping center in Finland’s second-largest city of Espoo, west of Helsinki, emphasizes in its marketing that the center is about “much more than just shopping.” There are also coffee houses, a library, a concert hall, movie theaters, a bowling alley and other kinds of areas where people come together. This diversity obviously means high demands on monitoring the lighting, heating and ventilation. All systems must be monitored and controlled to meet Sello’s two major goals: energy efficiency and perfect conditions for the 24 million customers that visit the shopping center each year.

This is a huge undertaking – but not impossible. In partnership with Siemens, Sello has been using Navigator, a Siemens cloud-based energy and sustainability platform, to monitor and analyze the center’s ventilation units, room sensors and lighting systems in all the various spaces and shops. According to Olli Paunola, the property manager at Sello, Navigator has given them considerably more options for how they can monitor the building’s operations and better adjust the system and conditions. “It’s crucial in terms of energy savings,” he says, “because it allows us to monitor the workings of the system for long periods of time.” Already for 2017 the center has managed to save 680 MWh in electricity and 800 MWh in district heating and has reduced its energy costs by around €93,000 over an eight-month period when compared to last year.


In the future, Paunola hopes that digitalization, data analytics and the continuing development of programs like Navigator and the shopping center’s automation and control system Desigo will soon make it possible for machines and systems to learn from the manual adjustments the maintenance team makes. “If the machines can learn from how we’ve reacted to certain situations and how they’ve been adjusted in those situations, I believe that there’s a chance that we can potentially optimize everything.” Paunola also hopes to be able to make quick or even automatic adjustments for the number of visitors in the shops and public spaces, as well as adjustments for the change in daylight over the opening hours. “Our goal is to have a lighting system that is controlled according to the need and not just ‘on or off.’”

The mall monitor

Navigator provides exact and specific data about energy consumption from “connected” devices, data which can then be analyzed and used to immediately pinpoint inefficiencies or maintenance issues, such as a broken valve, as opposed to having to search for the source of a ventilation problem. The monitoring tools also provide new opportunities to support Sello’s tenants with ways to improve their own energy efficiency, leading to both a higher level of sustainability and an economic gain for the tenants.

Sello’s “connected” devices send data on heat or electricity consumption and can be used to immediately pinpoint inefficiencies or predict maintenance issues.


The CEO of Sello, Matti Karlsson, agrees that monitoring, controlling and optimizing the lights, heat and ventilation will lead to economic advantages for both Sello and its tenants. But he stresses that the major responsibility and goal for Sello is to get more people to come to the shops and venues. To achieve this, the most important thing is to make sure that all the visitors enjoy their stay and feel comfortable and safe. “So our cooperation with Siemens is very important. In 2015, for example, Siemens helped us to become the first shopping center in Europe to achieve platinum-level EB LEED environmental certification” (the certification measures a building’s energy efficiency and environmental friendliness).

We want to continue our high level of sustainability, and we want to continue to be the best place for our customers and our tenants. That means we need good partners and Siemens has been one of the best.
Matti Karlsson, CEO, Sello

Innovation built on trust

For all these things, Minna Aalto, the Siemens on-site service manager at Sello, points to how important the cooperation and trust between Siemens and Sello has been. “I think the trust has been built over time. We’ve been in collaboration for over ten years now and we’ve done lots of very successful projects. We share the same values, and together we continue to improve the shopping center to be at its best.” She also adds that in the future they will continue to concentrate on electricity usage and the continued benefits of digitalization, which is paving the way for a visionary project to install photovoltaic panels and microgrid capabilities in the center. This will allow Sello to generate its own power or sell surplus solar power on the energy market.

“Siemens is for us more a partner than a contractor,” says CEO Karlsson. “And Sello is more than a shopping center. It’s a big part of the community in Espoo city. We want to continue our high level of sustainability, and we want to continue to be the best place for our customers and our tenants. That means we need good partners and Siemens has been one of the best.”

Nils Lindstrand is a journalist based in Stockholm, Sweden.
Picture credits: Siemens AG