FINLAND – What would a ventilation pipe say if it could talk? In Finland they do! In the city of Espoo there’s a world underground that is unknown to most residents. Below the streets a wide-ranging district heating network provides heating for 300,000 people, keeping their homes warm during the cold winter months.
District heating is a centralized system that distributes heat to where it’s needed via a network of sub-terranean hot water pipes. This pipe network delivers heat to commercial and domestic buildings to provide heating and hot water. This is a crucial city utility but all what most people see of the network are the network’s occasional ventilation pipes.
Few residents pay attention to this system – but now, the pipes are asking for it.
An audio piece titled “Life in the district heating network” gives local people a chance to discover the previously unknown. The pipes tell the stories of four different households, which you can hear by leaning in just a bit closer to the city’s pipes.
“This audio artwork gives people a chance to dive into the eventful life of a student dorm, the peaceful day-to-day of a senior couple, and the busy lives of two families. We wanted to do something fun for the local people by the local people,” says Minna Robertson, Head of Communications of Fortum’s heating and cooling business.
Because of Finland’s northern location and cold climate, choosing a clean heating method is the single most impactful environmental act a city or a town can make. District heating is a futuristic system because of its ability to utilize practically any source of heat – for example excess heat from datacenters. A district heating system makes it possible to produce heat in a manner that is both energy efficient and sustainable.
“The art also is a fun way to remind people that district heating is good for the climate. With the Espoo Clean Heat Programme we aim to provide completely carbon neutral district heating by year 2029 and discontinue the use of coal by 2025 at the latest. That’s something that locals can be very proud of,” says Robertson.
Creative partner behind the idea and execution is TBWA\ Helsinki.
“District heating is a genius heating system that often goes unnoticed. Just like other shared services, like water supply and public transport, we take district heating for granted. That is why decided to have the ventilation pipes make some noise for themselves. The campaign has already gained tons of positive feedback”, says Paula Sonne, Communications Strategist from TBWA\ Helsinki.