Pasi Niittymäki is a business-driven and data-loving CFO with 25+ years of experience in technology and media-related industries with a strong digitalisation twist. He has always been fascinated by big data-related business opportunities for the customer’s benefit and to improve business predictability. Currently, he has been expanding his knowledge in the real estate industry as Helvar’s CFO. Pasi holds two MSc’s in engineering and management from the University of Lappeenranta and the University of Nottingham.

During my time at Helvar, there have been several occasions where I have been thinking about how I could help to articulate a CFO’s reasoning for property-related investment. There are many instances where lighting solutions can play a role in different investment opportunities and business case evaluations. So, how much does the CFO benefit by implementing these solutions?  

Lighting – overlooked and undervalued?

In my previous position, I was the CFO of an organisation with more than 3,000 employees, and in that role, the company’s facilities department also reported to me. The company had tens of thousands of square meters of office space in several locations in Finland, and they were regularly renovated to meet the changing needs. I have thus been involved in the evaluation of numerous investment proposals for business premises reforms. In those discussions, business cases, space demand, and space adjustability were always discussed in detail. However, I have to admit that lighting was never touched as a topic, so the answer to the question posed at the beginning has been, “I don’t know”, since lighting was never included on the agenda of the CFO. 
However, times have changed, and as companies’ and environmental ESG pressures increase, modern lighting control offers meaningful and measurable benefits to meet tougher demands. Now I am aware that intelligent lighting controls can save over 80% of the energy used for lighting. Good lighting, which smartly adapts to its environment, can also significantly increase staff job satisfaction and best of all, based on research, lead to increases in productivity, as well as up to 64% fewer sick leave days compared to ordinary office lighting.  

Creating value for everyone in the space

But that isn’t all that lighting can do. This intelligence goes far beyond lighting with the collection of sensor data that can be used to increase building efficiency and further optimise the space, highlighting areas where cost savings can be made. I have to say this has been one area that has fascinated me the most.
Previously, I have relied on manual counting via external service providers to measure how office space is used and the utilisation rates at different times to investigate how much additional office space is needed. I dread to think how much time I could have saved if I had Helvar Insights with visual heat maps available at that time. That would have been incredibly beneficial for optimising additional square meter needs and better planning working space based on how people are actually using the office environment.   
Further cost savings can be achieved by integrating real-time sensor data with HVAC systems for much more meaningful energy savings and people comfort. This same system could even be used for supporting measuring personal distancing e.g. if society faces a new pandemic in the future. 
I have also started to pay attention to the offices and public buildings shining brightly while driving in the city in the evenings  there certainly is room for modern lighting control. There is plenty of savings potential to opt-in just by adding basic sensors and lighting control. I also question what kind of brand image the company is portraying by burning lights 24/7? And, if the lights are needed for regular lengthy days, what message is being sent to the next generation of talent who seem to appreciate a healthier work-life balance.