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#GETINSPIRED: Helsinki’s Innovation

18 December 2017

HELSINKI innovation award app

In our GET INSPIRED series we will be showcasing Destination applications and case studies submitted for the Innovation Award in 2017.

 

The fourth in our series is one of the candidates for this year’s Innovation Award, Helsinki for their “Climate Street” project.

 

In the Climate Street project, experts worked with residents, companies, and property owners to find and test ways to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions together.

 

The Climate Street project was one of the largest projects of its kind in Finland that takes place in established urban environment. During the project, Iso Roobertinkatustreet in Helsinki and Tikkuraitti and Asematie in Vantaa were transformed into climate streets, on which experimentation took place. These included both mitigation and adaptation experiments, with the aim of providing a test bed for businesses, and the cities in order to test and develop low carbon technologies, services and practices.

 

The Climate Street project was carried out by the Helsinki and Vantaa Environment Centres together with the Green Building Council, the HSY Climate Info and Aalto University in 2015-2017. The project was funded by the European Regional Development Fund, and it was part of Finland’s Six City Strategy.

 

To start off the project, a call to participate in the project and carbon footprint evaluation was sent to all buildings located on the street. Interest was high and the project team didn’t need to convince the real estate owners and housing companies to participate. Carbon footprint calculations were conducted altogether to 12 estates quantifying progress throughout the project. They gave the estate owners a better picture on what operations mainly caused the building climate impact.

 

All buildings were also offered energy advice. Most suggestions related to heat and adjusting the heating system, which also have the biggest effect on carbon footprint. Also water saving was suggested to almost every building as well as recommendation customized to residents and businesses’ needs.

 

Stories were shared through social and traditional media. In addition to various events organized during the project, the project team also communicated through several other channels.

 

Climate Street project also launched a competition for Agile Piloting to create innovative climate change-preventing services and solutions to residents and businesses in Iso Roobertinkatu. Three pilots were funded and chosen in June 2016: Sustainable Meal, Resource Efficient Existing Buildings and Zero Food Waste. Altogether 17 experimental ideas enrolled in the competition.

 

Moreover, a personal climate trainer coached 6 families towards more climate friendly living on the basis of the families interests -whether it was more climate wise food, transport or saving energy. The experiment was filmed and the films were shared in social media.

 

Overall, the Climate Street project was a success. The projects successfully engaged a wide variety of stakeholders in experimentation, which facilitated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, led to new practices and working cultures.

 

The events organized throughout the two-year project introduced easy ways of reducing everyday climate emissions and let people test them. Emphasis was put on food and energy –topics of special interest to the residents. The events were also highly important communication-wise.

 

Hoping that this initiative would be expanded to more streets and cities, theClimate Street Toolkit can be used by any organization or municipality wishing to create their own Climate Street or adopt some of the ideas piloted in Helsinki and Vantaa. All information is available at www.ilmastokatu.fi

 

Since built environments being more difficult to become environmentally friendly than new ones, this project took on a serious issue touching on multiple SDGs, in particular goal 11 of Sustainable Cities and Communities. This serious issue was communicated in a fun and light way for residents, through fun events that facilitated grassroots action, making participants feel ownership and control over the project and thus increased their commitment to it. The Climate Street project sure is pioneer solution for future low-carbon cities!

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