Smart circular material use, carbon neutral business parks and energy-efficient buildings – successful business operations and responsibility go hand in hand in Vantaa companies. The 6Aika projects invest heavily in low-carbon solutions which have translated into ecologically sustainable business operations, new innovations and resource- and material-efficiency. Even local residents are taking part in the joint effort.
Energy-efficient and low-carbon buildings use renewable energy and optimise energy consumption related to lighting, cooling, heating and ventilation. Investments made to improve the energy efficiency of buildings will pay for themselves. This was proven by the 6Aika Energy Wise Cities project. The project calculated the optimal way for nearly ten companies to improve the energy efficiency of their premises located in the Petikko-Varisto retail park.
“Building-specific plans were drawn up for the companies participating in the project, and seven companies decided to go ahead and implement their plans. We researched and tested solar panels that can be installed on walls and started to design a completely new type of energy-wise retail park that will also have the potential to transform the city’s image,” explains project manager Ari-Santeri Talja from Vantaa Business Development Services.
After the reviews and calculations had been done, one of the companies involved in the project disconnected their building from district heating and started to produce their own heating. The initial calculations show savings of nearly EUR 40,000 per year. Later on, we will also be able to see the numbers for carbon dioxide reduction.
Local residents have also been concerned over the emission load of their own buildings. In blocks of flats, up to 70% of the building’s energy consumption goes into heating!
The 6Aika: Climate-smart Housing Companies project was designed to improve energy efficiency by using IoT data gathered from residential buildings. Experiments showed that digital solutions based on measurement data are effective in improving the energy efficiency of even the older buildings.
Circular economy creates new business opportunities
The 6Aika ILPO – Climate Positive Business Parks and Value Chains project has served as a link between companies and cities: it brings company value chains and circular economy hubs together to work towards common climate goals.
“In Vantaa, we have worked on creating a circular economy hub together with the companies and other operators in the relevant sector. These large clusters related to circular material use play a key role when companies are considering new business opportunities and climate-friendly operating models and processes,” says project manager Ronny Rantamäki from Vantaa Business Development Services.
Ideally, a cluster of companies and a business park linked in different ways to the material cycle in Vantaa could serve as an environment for companies where synergies can be found for everyone.
“There is interest and need for something like this in Vantaa, and companies would love to get a chance to benefit from the opportunities of a hub like this as soon as possible. However, planning and questions around land use take time to sort out,” says Rantamäki.
Models for planning a circular economy hub can be found in other cities involved in the 6Aika strategy. For example, lessons could be learned in Vantaa from a successful circular economy hub, the Topinpuisto circular economy centre, in south-western Finland.
Carbon footprint of food – everyone can make a difference
Circular economy for food refers to the way food travels from the field onto your dinner table and back to the field and into food production again as nutrients. The aim is to minimise the carbon footprint of food. Vantaa is searching for circular economy and food waste-reducing solutions for restaurants.
“A business cluster created around food has become our link to local restaurants. In restaurants, the main objective is to reduce food waste, which is seen as important both from an economic and environmental point of view,” says the 6Aika CircularHoodFood: Circular economy – low-carbon food, urban food production and recycling of bio-waste project manager Henri Laine from Vantaa Business Development Services.
Laine emphasises that the circular economy for food must also find new business models. Experimentation can lead to new ways of producing food in economically and environmentally sustainable ways even in urban environments.
“Practical experiments allow us to highlight smart ways to produce food using new technologies. As a participant in the project, we can easily facilitate business networks and find facilities and locations for experiments and new businesses,” says Laine.
The project has also introduced models for farming in urban residential areas and new innovative ideas for urban food production.
6Aika is a joint sustainable urban development strategy of the six largest cities in Finland: Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Turku and Oulu. This strategy centres on co-creation and cross-sector collaboration between cities, companies and other organisations and sectors and offers platforms and environments for experimenting and development. In Vantaa, 6Aika means experimenting with new ideas and development projects in and with the city.