Viikki Animal Shelter

A flexible operational model ensures a cost-effective solution without compromising the quality

Built in 1968 and refurbished in 2006 for its current use, the Viikki Animal Shelter serves as the official recovery location for lost animals in Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen, and Kirkkonummi.

During the summer heatwaves of 2021, the indoor temperature of the building reached a high of 32 degrees Celsius. While people could find relief by taking breaks from work, the situation became uncomfortable for the animals, especially since the windows could not be opened due to animal escape risks. The need for air conditioning was evident.

The Helsinki Animal Protection Association began investigating how to solve the problem in the most effective way. The building had an air handling unit, but it lacked cooling. Room-specific control was not necessary; instead, the goal was to moderate the entire building’s temperature during hot weather. Through an HVAC designers’ simulations, it was determined that the needed cooling level could be achieved through the cooling of the supply air. This approach would also avoid circulating dust with room-based units. The decision was made to find a solution to cool the supply air.

The equipment supplier, ETS NORD, recommended that the current unit should be upgraded to contain an integrated cooler functionality. In this solution a new cooler block would be added to the air handling unit. The block would cool supply air with an evaporator and excess heat would be removed into exhaust. With the Recair aSAP solution the new block could be transported in smaller parts via service ladder. The old extract filter was moved to filter air before the cooler block. This way, the entire air handling unit wouldn’t need to be replaced with a new one, and no external units would be required.

Underneath the thermal insulation of the attic air ducts, condensation insulation was added. Overheat removal ventilation was used to prevent the heat from the sun-warmed attic from transferring into the rooms through the upper floors.

The developer was HVAC specialist Antti Pitkänen from the University of Helsinki’s property services, and the main contractor for the project was LVI-neloset Oy.

Thanks to the cost-effective solution and a flexible operational model, both the project costs and the required installation time were significantly reduced. Upgrading the existing device is, of course, much more environmentally friendly than replacing it with a new one.

Marika Stillman, the lead animal caretaker at the Helsinki Animal Protection Society, reports that the installation work went smoothly. Even though stray animals typically react strongly to unfamiliar people, there was no excessive disturbance, and the devices were installed without disrupting the operation of the building.

Most importantly, the cooling performance reached the desired levels, significantly improving the wellbeing of the shelter’s residents throughout the year.

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Aleksi Kähärä

Development Manager, Recair air handling units