The zero tolerance for indoor air problems announced by Senate Properties also now applies to the buildings used by the Finnish Defence Forces, the most important of which are barracks. This ambitious goal of zero tolerance for indoor air problems is the responsibility of Senate Properties’ subsidiary enterprise, Defence Properties Finland, which both owns the buildings of the Finnish Defence Forces and is responsible for their condition and services.
“The idea of zero tolerance is that indoor air problems are basically prevented before they arise. We act systematically and are working hard to prevent problems from arising,” says Matias Warsta, CEO of Defence Properties Finland.
Defences Properties Finland has a long-term maintenance plan, carries out building inspections and invests heavily in refurbishment.
“Well over €1 billion has been invested in army buildings during the past two decades. We have now increased the amount of euros allocated for maintenance from €19 million two years ago to €35 million this year,” Warsta says.
Defence Properties Finland has hired their own indoor air experts, who can also benefit from the expertise of Senate’s large indoor air team. Where indoor air problems are suspected or arise, there is quick response to the matter.
“These matters must and should be raised. The health and safety of staff and conscripts are the top priority for the Finnish Defence Forces. We in Defence Properties Finland take every indoor air quality suspicion seriously. We guarantee that with us matters are not caught up in the wheels of bureaucracy and left running round in circles.”
Everything will have been renovated during this decade
Through the years, suspected indoor air problems at garrisons have received much publicity. Indoor air problems, water damages, headaches and frequent colds have been raised.
Warsta says that refurbishments have now been done in almost all garrisons. Some have been completely renovated. During this decade, all Finnish Defence Forces’ accommodation, working and classroom buildings will be renovated.
At the same time, the Finnish Defence Forces aim to reduce costs by reducing their building stock. Both Defence Properties Finland and the Finnish Defence Forces are improving operational efficiency. This will in turn reduce repair costs.
“It’s not worth repairing buildings that won’t be used. Just as with central government office premises, there is also significant potential to downsize Defence Forces’ properties. This applies not just to barracks but to the Defence Forces’ property stock as a whole.”
The start of military service is a challenging time
When he used to work at the Ministry of Defence, Matias Warsta sometimes received letters from mothers concerned about their sons’ symptoms and suspecting indoor air as the cause.
“I took the feedback seriously. The start of military service is a tough time for young men and women. They are faced with a new challenging situation in their lives. This is the first time that many are living outside their family and in an unfamiliar environment. When conscripts and young women volunteering for military service get colds and a cough, rumours about indoor air problems begin to circulate and the situation easily escalates,” Warsta explains.
The intake for conscripts is usually twice a year and Defence Properties Finland communicates also about indoor matters to all conscripts.
“We tell them that we have focused on healthy indoor air in the military service environment and how everyone can contribute to good indoor air conditions. The nation lends, so to speak, the age group in its prime to military national defence activities. Without question, we must be able to guarantee healthy, safe conditions for these young people.”