The co-creation work has yielded practical and impactful results: Worksites are being developed to be increasingly zero-emission. Commitment to and methods of plastic recycling are increasing. A new model is being created for green procurements. Competing companies are joining forces for the climate, and information about good models is being exchanged and spread jointly.
These are some of the concrete actions that are highlighted by the experts involved in the ‘HNRY – Carbon-neutral and Resource-wise Industrial Areas’ project. The project is a part of the 6Aika Six City Strategy in Finland.
In the pilots within the project, cities, companies and research institutes worked together and built networks that will also be used in the future.
The chair of the project’s steering group, Senior Specialist of the Ministry of the Environment Leena-Kaisa Piekkari, was pleasantly surprised by the commitment and drive of the participants to find new solutions.
No one was just paying lip service to the project, everyone was actively seeking solutions that would have as high an impact as possible and that would live on even after the project.
“Next, we should think about how to get other municipalities to utilise the information collected and the models developed, and how information about new opportunities can also be effectively spread to companies.”
Piekkari herself became most familiar with the concept and pilots for zero-emission worksites, which offer tools for reducing emissions from worksites – and provide essential support for the voluntary green deal prepared by the Finnish government and municipalities.
The goal of the green deal is to make cities’ worksites fossil-free and increase the use of electricity, biogas and hydrogen in worksite machinery and transport.
The models developed will be adopted into the operations of the cities involved.
Focus on emissions from machinery
Helsinki aims to find and adopt ways of reducing emissions from worksites and the Port by focusing on the emissions reduction potential of infrastructure worksites and harbour machinery.
The solutions for zero-emission worksites will not be forgotten after the project, project coordinator of the City of Helsinki Susanna Suomalainen promises.
“Successful pilot projects, such as the electric machinery at the Kulosaaren puistotie infrastructure project and other low-emission solutions, are the foundation for new operating models. The theme of zero-emission worksites will also not be forgotten as it’s tied to the City’s carbon neutrality goals.”
Excellent concrete results were achieved through an expert assessment on low-carbon machinery at Vuosaari Harbour, which resulted in a roadmap and emissions calculation model for reducing the emissions from cargo harbour machinery.
Using the emissions calculation model and a tutorial video for it, companies can assess the carbon dioxide emissions and total cost of ownership of their machinery and calculate the potential emissions and investment impact if they were to partially move to electric machinery, for example.
The emissions calculation model is also suitable for assessing other machinery than that used at harbours.
Suomalainen was particularly happy to see how even competing operators worked together on the project to test and adopt new solutions and operating models.
The project period of a few years is a short one, but it has already provided time for testing the things that can move forward.
“We have achieved a surprising amount in a short time. Despite the pandemic,” Suomalainen says.
The City continues to assist and serve
In Vantaa, a concept has been developed with companies to increase companies’ commitment to developing and implementing low-carbon and zero-waste solutions.
The City of Vantaa wanted to hear companies’ ideas and needs when developing concepts for low-carbon and zero-waste operations.
Project Manager Ari-Santeri Talja says the COVID-19 pandemic messed up the plans somewhat, but despite this, a cooperation model was created during the project. Talja hopes the model will live on.
Before the pandemic, the City managed to hold a workshop where valuable knowledge was collected from companies regarding their views on carbon-neutral and resource-wise operations and energy conservations in general.
“The primary goal was to hear their thoughts and views on what they think are the best methods, for example. The idea was to avoid dictation from the City as far as possible.”
The aim is to continue to develop various types of cooperation. This may not even require money, but rather an expert in economic development to listen to and work with the companies.
“Hopefully, companies felt that they can get information from us and that the City is happy to serve them.”
Efficient recycling of plastic through modern technology
VTT has conceptualised and tested operating models that promote carbon-neutral and resource-wise operations together with companies. The project’s focus has been on the development of VTT Bioruukki Pilot Centre, reducing worksite emissions and utilising plastics from industrial areas.
The purpose of VTT’s ‘plastic pilot’ was to test a new way of collecting plastics. Companies deliver their plastic waste to the temporary shared collection point in the Vuosaari Harbour area. There, the plastics are put into a waste press, the smart system of which will weigh the plastics at a company-specific level.
Based on the amounts of plastic types collected and feedback from the companies, VTT assessed which recycling solution would be the most suitable for the companies in the pilot area now and in the future.
For VTT’s researcher Satu Pasanen, it was important to try out new methods in practice.
“We’re only a sprint away from moving from a pilot to longer-term and permanent operations,” Pasanen says.
She believes that the new recycling practices will spread wider from the pilot. However, this requires cooperation between cities and companies, as well as a will to do things differently.
“Even if not everyone everywhere is ready for this yet, it doesn’t mean that the new methods couldn’t be adopted in a few years.”
Pasanen found it particularly great that operations were not dictated from above during the plastic pilot; instead, the pressure came from the companies themselves: they wanted to have more efficient plastic recycling. In such a situation, you can say the work is half done.
Public construction projects have great significance
In Espoo, ways of reducing emissions from worksites have been piloted, and the procurement criteria for sustainable tendering have been reformed.
The commitment and determination of the City’s construction units to drive things forward also impressed Iina Kallio, who coordinates the project in Espoo.
“It was great to be able to communicate emissions reduction measures already performed, instead of just plans. Operators are keen to see concrete actions for construction worksites, and this project received praise for them.”
“Modern co-creation with companies was realised, and the environmental value criteria approved by the Act on Public Procurement provided a better opportunity for implementing resource-wise qualities in contract tendering.”
During the project, Espoo completed the concept for green public procurements, for example, which will help the City focus on achieving emissions reductions as early as in the planning phase.
“The development of emissions calculations is also extremely valuable for demonstrating the impact of the actions and ensuring equality among all operators in the sector.”
Kallio points out that nearly seven billion euro is spent on public construction projects in Finland every year. How much good it could do if such procurements were carried out in a climate-wise and resource-wise fashion.
Resource-wise development of an industrial area
In Turku, the aim is to build the Blue Industry Park into a carbon neutral and resource-wise production and innovation cluster for the maritime and manufacturing industries. During the project, solutions for carbon-neutral worksites, construction, facility utilisation and business operations have been conceptualised.
Account Manager Vesa Erkkilä from Turku Science Park, a supporter of business, says that even though the pandemic messed up the plans, the groundwork for future operations was still laid.
“If this project didn’t exist, the City would probably sell the project area plot by plot, and the area would not be seen as an entity,” Erkkilä says.
By taking this approach, the maritime industry has received relevant and up-to-date information and opportunities for solutions that support competitiveness on the international market.
“During the project, we received experiences from various industrial areas and found out what has worked well in the past, and what hasn’t. Cities openly shared information on their experiences.”
Erkkilä points out that the guide on carbon-neutral and resource-wise planning and implementation, written during the project, is available to everyone. Companies in industries other than the maritime industry can also use it.
Project Manager Niina Ruuska from the City of Turku is particularly delighted that a zero-emission worksite became one of the key development projects in urban construction.
During the project, it became obvious how heavy industry is developing its sustainability – and what is best, on its own initiative.
In Turku, the lessons learned from the project’s pilots will be used in a follow-up project where the key companies of industrial clusters are trained to engage in carbon-neutral and resource-wise operations.
If Ruuska received further funding, she would use it on communications: the pilot projects that got off to a great start should be shared so that more industrial operators get involved. Sustainability funding would not hurt, either.
More practical training
Bastu, the future platform of the University of Turku’s Finland Futures Research Centre, held workshops that brought entrepreneurs and experts from the project’s carbon-neutral industrial areas together.
Researcher of the University of Turku Essi Silvonen sees the project and its funding as start-up money for companies. Through the project, the aim is to show if a solution is useful and viable.
And the solutions in this project are exactly that!
“During the project, we held open solutions forums where all companies interested in the themes were welcome. It helped with sharing ideas early on and expanded our views on developing the themes.”
The feedback from the companies that participated in the solution forums has been overwhelmingly positive. Practical tips were seen as particularly useful.
As a main organiser, the City of Turku, along with the University of Turku and the City of Helsinki, also held a training session on carbon-neutral and resource-wise operations that involved companies and other stakeholders from various industries.
Silvonen hopes that the training can be expanded and offered to more and more new companies.
Two years is a short time, but like everyone else involved, Silvonen believes even such short a period can kick off extensive and impactful actions.
Text: Kirsi Riipinen
More information about the HNRY project’s ideas, that are freely available to everyone, and which cities and businesses can use to promote and carry out carbon-neutral and resource-wise operations: hnry.fi/en