In Downtown Helsinki, A Giant Underground Reservoir Is Keeping The City Free From Air Conditioners

Finland isn’t exactly known for hot weather. But as the climate changes and summer heat waves become more common in northern Europe, don’t expect to see more air conditioners in Helsinki: The city is pioneering a huge cooling system that uses cold water from nearby lakes and the sea instead of electricity.

Hundreds of feet underneath an ordinary-looking park in downtown Helsinki, a local energy company built a huge reservoir filled with nearly 9 million gallons of lake water. When the system is fully operational next summer, the water will be pumped to local buildings in the area to keep them cool. At night, the water will flow back underground, where waste energy will be used to cool it down again.

The tank is the latest piece of the city’s quickly growing cooling network, which already uses seawater to keep buildings comfortable. 300 buildings — mostly offices and commercial spaces — are connected to the network now, and as summers get hotter, the city plans to keep expanding the system — via

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